Moonraker by Ian Fleming: Book Hardcover (Hardcover)
Moonraker is the third novel by the British author Ian Fleming to feature his fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond. It was published by Jonathan Cape on 5 April 1955 and featured a cover design conceived by Fleming. The plot is derived from a Fleming screenplay that was too short for a full novel, so he added the passage of the bridge game between Bond and the industrialist Hugo Drax. In the latter half of the novel, Bond is seconded to Drax's staff as the businessman builds the Moonraker, a prototype missile designed to defend England. Unknown to Bond, Drax is German, an ex-Nazi now working for the Soviets; his plan is to build the rocket, arm it with a nuclear warhead, and fire it at London. Uniquely for a Bond novel, Moonraker is set entirely in Britain, which raised comments from some readers, complaining about the lack of exotic locations.
The British Secret Service agent James Bond is asked by his superior, M, to join him at M's club, Blades. A club member, the multi-millionaire businessman Sir Hugo Drax, is winning considerable money playing bridge, seemingly against the odds. M suspects Drax is cheating, and while claiming indifference, is concerned as to why a multi-millionaire and national hero would cheat. Bond confirms Drax's deception and manages to turn the tables-aided by a stacked deck of cards-and wins 15,000 (more than seven times Bond's annual salary).
Drax is the product of a mysterious background, purportedly unknown even to himself. Presumed to have been a British Army soldier during the Second World War, he was badly injured and stricken with amnesia in the explosion of a bomb planted by a German saboteur at a British field headquarters. After extensive rehabilitation in an army hospital, he returned home to become a wealthy industrialist. After building his fortune and establishing himself in business and society, Drax started building the "Moonraker", Britain's first nuclear missile project, intended to defend Britain against its Cold War enemies. The Moonraker rocket was to be an upgraded V-2 rocket using liquid hydrogen and fluorine as propellants; to withstand the ultra-high combustion temperatures of its engine, it used columbite, in which Drax had a monopoly. Because the rocket's engine could withstand high heat, the Moonraker was able to use these powerful fuels, greatly expanding its effective range.
After a Ministry of Supply security officer working at the project is shot dead, M assigns Bond to replace him and also to investigate what has been going on at the missile-building base, located between Dover and Deal on the south coast of England. All the rocket scientists working on the project are German. At his post on the complex, Bond meets Gala Brand, a beautiful police Special Branch officer working undercover as Drax's personal assistant. Bond also uncovers clues concerning his predecessor's death, concluding that the man may have been killed for witnessing a submarine off the coast.