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Dr. No (sometimes published as Doctor No, primarily in American editions) is the sixth James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, originally published in 1958 by Jonathan Cape. Due to licensing issues involving Casino Royale, the first book in the Bond series, the novel was adapted instead as the first EON Productions Bond film in 1962, the success of which would lead to a long running series of films made by them.

The novel[]

The novel marks the first time that a number of James Bond signature elements are used. It is the first novel in which Bond uses his signature Walther PPK handgun and also the first time Major Boothroyd (also known as Q, the armourer) appears, although Bond's first gadget was in the previous novel, From Russia, with Love.

The plot of the novel and the film are very similar, only differing when elements from the previous novels are referenced, primarily From Russia, with Love and Live and Let Die.


From Russia, with Love ended in a cliffhanger with the status of James Bond unknown. Bond was poisoned by SMERSH agent Rosa Klebb and collapsed at the end of the novel. In Dr. No, M learns from the firm's neurologist that the poison was tetrodotoxin, which is obtained from the sex organs of the Japanese pufferfish known as fugu. Tetrodotoxin paralyses the muscles of the victim while they stay fully conscious until eventually they die from asphyxiation. Bond is given first aid treatment by his friend, René Mathis, whilst a doctor is summoned. The doctor had spent time in Africa and had dealt with various poisons. He diagnoses curare poisoning and treats Bond accordingly. Even to date, there is no current antidote and the chances of survival are very slim.

Nonetheless, Bond survives. When he returns to duty, he is sent by M on a "rest cure" to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of Strangways, the head of station in Kingston, who had previously appeared in Live and Let Die. Bond learns that Strangways had been investigating the activities of Dr. Julius No, a reclusive man of Chinese-German origins who lives on an island called "Crab Key" that is said to be the home of a vicious dragon.

Ian fleming dr no bullseye hutchinson

Bond and Honey fleeing from the dragon.

With help of Quarrel (previously in Live and Let Die), as well as the beautiful Honeychile Rider, who visits the island to collect valuable shells, Bond discovers that Dr. No, who ostensibly operates a business harvesting and exporting guano, is in fact working with the Soviets. They have supplied him with several million dollars worth of equipment to sabotage ongoing American missile tests taking place nearby. Bond and Honeychile are captured by Dr. No, but Quarrel is burned to death by the (mechanical) dragon. Doctor No's speciality is torture and he tortures Bond to discover and record his powers of endurance. Bond faints during the torture and after briefly waking, Bond is quickly overcome once more and Bond faints for a second time. Bond is unsure of how long he is unconscious, but eventually survives.

Bond discovers that Dr. No is also working with the Soviets and has built an elaborate underground facility from which he can sabotage American missile tests at nearby Cape Canaveral. Dr. No had previously been a member of a Chinese Tong (a criminal organisation), but after he stole a large amount of money from their treasury, he was captured by the organisation, whose leaders had his hands cut off as a sign of punishment for theft, and then ordered him shot. The Tong thought they shot him through the heart.

However, because No's heart was on the right-hand side of his body (as a sufferer of dextrocardia), the bullet missed his heart and he survived. Interested in the ability of the human body to withstand and survive pain, No forces Bond to navigate his way through an obstacle course constructed in the facility's ventilation system. He is kept under regular observation, suffering electric shocks, burns and an encounter with large poisonous spiders along the way. The ordeal ends in a fight against a captive giant squid, which Bond defeats by using improvised and stolen objects made into weapons. After his escape he encounters Honey from her ordeal where she had been pegged out to be eaten by crabs; the crabs ignored her and she had managed to make good her own escape. Bond kills Dr. No by taking over the guano-loading machine at the docks and diverting the guano flow from it to bury the villain alive. Bond and Honey then escape from No's complex in the dragon buggy.

Back in Jamaica, Bond tidies up his official affairs with Pleydell Smith, colonial secretary, arranging to have Honey's surgery to mend her broken nose. He then has a nighttime dinner at the remains of Honey's family estate alone with her.


Comic strip adaptation[]

Main article: Dr. No (comic)

Dr. No was adapted into comic strip form in 1960.


Behind the Scenes[]

The novel was originally a screenplay written in 1956 for producer Henry Morgenthau III for what would have been a television show entitled Commander Jamaica. When those plans did not come to fruition, Fleming adapted the ideas to form the basis of the novel, which he originally titled The Wound Man. The book's eponymous villain was influenced by Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu stories. Notably, Dr. No was the first of Fleming's novels to receive large-scale negative criticism in Britain, with Paul Johnson of the New Statesman writing his review about the "Sex, Snobbery and Sadism" of the story. When the book was released into the American market however, it was generally received more favourably the opposite of the five previous novels.

Popular culture[]

  • In a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, "Our Man Bashir", a holographic programme clearly based on James Bond features a villain named "Dr. Noah" (although this name is shared with a character from the 1967 Casino Royale).
  • Politicians Tom Brinkman, Ron Paul, and Ian Paisley have all earned the nickname "Dr. No" for their idiosyncratic views and frequent votes against new legislation.
  • In the song "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders", Homer Simpson claims Dr. No is better than Ned Flanders.