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Moonraker, Britain's new ICBM-based national defense system, is ready for testing, but something's not quite right. At M's request, Bond begins his investigation with Sir Hugo Drax, the leading card shark at M's club, who is also the head of the Moonraker project. This ebook is made available at no cost and with very few restrictions. If the book is under copyright in your country, do not download or They tell me the Moonraker can't exist without Drax and the papers say the whole. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. "Ian Fleming was born in London on May 28, Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.


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Tranby Croft all over again. At least, that's how Basildon's mind is working and I must say I can see it that way too. Anyway," said M. You're the best card-player in the Service, or," he smiled ironically, "you should be after the casino jobs you've been on, and I remembered that we'd spent quite a lot of money putting you through a course in card-sharping before you went after those Roumanians in Monte Carlo before the war.

Bond smiled grimly. Made me work ten hours a day for a week learning a thing called the Riffle Stack and how to deal Seconds and Bottoms and Middles. I wrote a long report about it at the time. Must be buried in Records. He knew every trick in the game. How to wax the aces so that the pack will break at them; Edge Work and Line Work with a razor on the backs of the high cards; Trimming; Arm Pressure Holdouts--mechanical gadgets up your sleeve that feed you cards.

Belly Strippers--trimming a whole pack less than a millimetre down both sides, but leaving a slight belly on the cards you're interested in--the aces, for instance.

Shiners, tiny mirrors built into rings, or fitted into the bottom of a pipe-bowl. Actually," Bond admitted, "it was his tip about Luminous Readers that helped me on that Monte Carlo job.

A croupier was using an invisible ink the team could pick out with special glasses. But Steffi was a wonderful chap.

Scotland Yard found him for us. He could shuffle the pack once and then cut the four aces out of it. Absolute magic. No, there's nothing sensational about his cheating and for all I know it might be a fantastic run of luck.

It's odd. He's not a particularly good player--he only plays bridge by the way--but quite often he brings off bids or doubles or finesses that are absolutely phenomenal--quite against the odds. Or the conventions. But they come off. He's always a big winner and they play high at Blades. He hasn't lost on a weekly settlement since he joined a year ago.

We've got two or three of the finest players in the world in the Club and none of them has ever had a record like that over twelve months. It's getting talked about in a sort of joking way and I think Basildon's right to do something about it. What system do you suppose Drax has got? Bond was longing for his lunch. The Chief of Staff must have given him up half an hour ago. He could have talked to M. But Bond was hungry. He's either looking, or else he's got a system of signals with his partner.

Does he often play with the same man? And on guest nights, Mondays and Thursdays, you stick to your guest. Drax nearly always brings a man called Meyer, his metal broker.

Nice chap. Very fine player. At any rate you'll get a good dinner. Meet you there about six. I'll take some money off you at piquet and we'll watch the bridge for a little. After dinner we'll have a rubber or two with Drax and his friend.

They're always there on Monday. All right? Sure I'm not taking you away from your work? Bit of a busman's holiday. And if Drax is cheating, I'll show him I've spotted it and that should be enough to warn him off. I wouldn't like to see him get into a mess.

That all, sir? Drax must be a bloody fool. Obviously a bit of a crank. But it isn't the man I'm worried about. I wouldn't like to chance anything going wrong with this rocket of his. And Drax more or less is the Moonraker. Well, see you at six. Don't bother about dressing. Some of us do for dinner and some of us don't. Tonight we won't. Better go along now and sandpaper your fingertips or whatever you sharpers do.

Bond smiled back at M. It sounded a promising evening. As he walked over to the door and let himself out he reflected that here at last was an interview with M. M's secretary was still at her desk. There was a plate of sandwiches and a glass of milk beside her typewriter.

She looked sharply at Bond, but there was nothing to be read in his expression. He'll be back any minute now. There were only a few people left in the officers' canteen. Bond sat by himself and ate a grilled sole, a large mixed salad with his own dressing laced with mustard, some Brie cheese and toast, and half a carafe of white Bordeaux. He had two cups of black coffee and was back in his office by three. With half his mind preoccupied with M. He was home in fifteen minutes. He left the car under the plane trees in the little square and let himself into the ground floor of the converted Regency house, went into the book-lined sitting-room and, after a moment's search, pulled Scarne on Cards out of its shelf and dropped it on the ornate Empire desk near the broad window.

He walked through into the smallish bedroom with the white and gold Cole wallpaper and the deep red curtains, undressed and threw his clothes, more or less tidily, on the dark blue counterpane of the double bed. Then he went into the bathroom and had a quick shower. Before leaving the bathroom he examined his face in the glass and decided that he had no intention of sacrificing a lifetime prejudice by shaving twice in one day.

In the glass, the grey-blue eyes looked back at him with the extra light they held when his mind was focused on a problem that interested him.

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The lean, hard face had a hungry, competitive edge to it. There was something swift and intent in the way he ran his fingers along his jaw and in the impatient stroke of the hairbrush to put back the comma of black hair that fell down an inch above his right eyebrow.

It crossed his mind that, with the fading of his sunburn, the scar down the right cheek that had shown so white was beginning to be less prominent, and automatically he glanced down his naked body and registered that the almost indecent white area left by his bathing trunks was less sharply defined.

He smiled at some memory and went through into the bedroom. Ten minutes later, in a heavy white silk shirt, dark blue trousers of Navy serge, dark blue socks, and well-polished black moccasin shoes, he was sitting at his desk with a pack of cards in one hand and Scarne's wonderful guide to cheating open in front of him. For half an hour, as he ran quickly through the section on Methods, he practised the vital Mechanic's Grip three fingers curled round the long edge of the cards, and the index finger at the short upper edge away from him , Palming and Nullifying the Cut.

His hands worked automatically at these basic manoeuvres, while his eyes read, and he was glad to find that his fingers were supple and assured and that there was no noise from the cards even with the very difficult single-handed Annulment.

He went into his bedroom, filled the wide black case with cigarettes and slipped it into his hip pocket, put on a black knitted silk tie and his coat and verified that his cheque book was in his notecase. He stood for a moment, thinking. Then he selected two white silk handkerchiefs, carefully rumpled them, and put one into each side-pocket of his coat. He lit a cigarette and walked back into the sitting-room and sat down at his desk again and relaxed for ten minutes, gazing out of the window at the empty square and thinking about the evening that was just going to begin and about Blades, probably the most famous private card club in the world.

The exact date of the foundation of Blades is uncertain. The second half of the eighteenth century saw the opening of many coffee houses and gaming rooms, and premises and proprietors shifted often with changing fashions and fortunes.

White's was founded in , Almack's in , and Brooks's in , and it was in that year that the Scavoir Vivre, which was to be the cradle of Blades, opened its doors on to Park Street, a quiet backwater off St James's.

The Scavoir Vivre was too exclusive to live and it blackballed itself to death within a year. Then, in , Horace Walpole wrote: From the outset Blades seems to have been a success, and in we find the Duke of Wirtemberg writing excitedly home to his younger brother: There have been four or five quinze tables going in the room at the same time, with whist and piquet, after which a full Hazard table.

I have known two at the same time. Two chests each containing guinea rouleaus were scarce sufficient for the night's circulation. Mention of Hazard perhaps provides a clue to the club's prosperity. Permission to play this dangerous but popular game must have been given by the Committee in contravention of its own rules which laid down that 'No game is to be admitted to the House of the Society but Chess, Whist, Picket, Cribbage, Quadrille, Ombre and Tredville'.

In any event the club continued to flourish and remains to this day the home of some of the highest 'polite' gambling in the world. It is not as aristocratic as it was, the redistribution of wealth has seen to that, but it is still the most exclusive club in London.

The food and wine are the best in London and no bills are presented, the cost of all meals being deducted at the end of each week pro rata from the profits of the winners.

Club servants are the making or breaking of any club and the servants of Blades have no equal. There are one or two other small refinements which contribute to the luxury of the place. Only brand-new currency notes and silver are paid out on the premises and, if a member is staying overnight, his notes and small change are taken away by the valet who brings the early morning tea and The Times and are replaced with new money.

No newspaper comes to the reading room before it has been ironed. Floris provides the soaps and lotions in the lavatories and bedrooms; there is a direct wire to Ladbroke's from the porter's lodge; the club has the finest tents and boxes at the principal race-meetings, at Lords, Henley, and Wimbledon, and members travelling abroad have automatic membership of the leading club in every foreign capital.

Bond, reflecting on all this, decided that he was going to enjoy his evening. He had only played at Blades a dozen times in his life, and on the last occasion he had burnt his fingers badly in a high poker game, but the prospect of some expensive bridge and of the swing of a few, to him, not unimportant hundred pounds made his muscles taut with anticipation.

And then, of course, there was the little business of Sir Hugo Drax, which might bring an additional touch of drama to the evening. He was not even disturbed by a curious portent he encountered while he was driving along King's Road into Sloane Square with half his mind on the traffic and the other half exploring the evening ahead.

It was a few minutes to six and there was thunder about. The sky threatened rain and it had become suddenly dark. Across the square from him, high up in the air, a bold electric sign started to flash on and off. The fading light-waves had caused the cathode tube to start the mechanism which would keep the sign flashing through the dark hours until, around six in the morning, the early light of day would again sensitize the tube and cause the circuit to close.

Startled at the great crimson words, Bond pulled in to the curb, got out of the car and crossed to the other side of the street to get a better view of the big skysign. That was it. Some of the letters had been hidden by a neighbouring building.

It was only one of those Shell advertisements. When he had first seen the sign, half-hidden by the building, great crimson letters across the evening sky had flashed a different message. The Adam frontage of Blades, recessed a yard or so back from its neighbours, was elegant in the soft dusk. The dark red curtains had been drawn across the ground floor bow-windows on either side of the entrance and a uniformed servant showed for a moment as he drew them across the three windows of the floor above.

In the centre of the three, Bond could see the heads and shoulders of two men bent over a game, probably backgammon he thought, and he caught a glimpse of the spangled fire of one of the three great chandeliers that illuminate the famous gambling room.

Bond pushed through the swing doors and walked up to the old-fashioned porter's lodge ruled over by Brevett, the guardian of Blades and the counsellor and family friend of half the members. Page, take Commander Bond up to the Admiral. Lively now! As Bond followed the uniformed page boy across the worn black and white marble floor of the hall and up the wide staircase with its fine mahogany balustrade, he remembered the story of how, at one election, nine blackballs had been found in the box when there were only eight members of the committee present.

Brevett, who had handed the box from member to member, was said to have confessed to the Chairman that he was so afraid the candidate would be elected that he had put in a blackball himself.

No one had objected. The committee would rather have lost its chairman than the porter whose family had held the same post at Blades for a hundred years. The page pushed open one wing of the tall doors at the top of the stairs and held it for Bond to go through.

The long room was not crowded and Bond saw M. He dismissed the page and walked across the heavy carpet, noticing the rich background smell of cigar-smoke, the quiet voices that came from the three tables of bridge, and the sharp rattle of dice across an unseen backgammon board.

He waved to the chair that faced him across the card table. I haven't cracked this man Canfield for months. He sat down and lit a cigarette and watched with amusement the concentration M.

Dark grey suit, stiff white collar, the favourite dark blue bow-tie with spots, rather loosely tied, the thin black cord of the rimless eyeglass that M. It was difficult to believe that an hour before he had been playing with a thousand live chessmen against the enemies of England; that there might be, this evening, fresh blood on his hands, or a successful burglary, or the hideous knowledge of a disgusting blackmail case.

Something a bit cold and dangerous in that face. Looks pretty fit. May have been attached to Templer in Malaya. Or Nairobi. Mau Mau work. Tough-looking customer. Doesn't look the sort of chap one usually sees in Blades. Bond knew that there was something alien and un-English about himself.

He knew that he was a difficult man to cover up. Particularly in England. He shrugged his shoulders. Abroad was what mattered. He would never have a job to do in England. Outside the jurisdiction of the Service. Anyway, he didn't need a cover this evening. This was recreation. Bond automatically gathered in the pack and as automatically gave it the Scarne shuffle, marrying the two halves with the quick downward riffle that never brings the cards off the table.

He squared off the pack and pushed it away. The waiter went away and came back a moment later with the two thin packs. He stripped off the wrapping and placed them, with two markers, on the table. He stood waiting. Bond looked at his watch. It was half-past six. Large slice of lemon peel. Our friend hasn't turned up yet. For half an hour they played the game at which the expert player can nearly always win even with the cards running slightly against him. At the end of the game Bond laughed and counted out three pound-notes.

He finished his whisky and soda. Our man's playing at Basildon's table. Came in about ten minutes ago. If you notice anything, just give me a nod and we'll go downstairs and talk about it. The far end of the room had begun to fill up and half a dozen tables of bridge were going. At the round poker table under the centre chandelier three players were counting out chips into five stacks, waiting for two more players to come in.

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The kidney-shaped baccarat table was still shrouded and would probably remain so until after dinner, when it would be used for chemin-de-fer. Bond followed M. His pulses quickened with the smell of it all and his nostrils flared slightly as the two men came down the long room and joined the company. Bond thoughtfully noted the head of tight reddish hair that was all he could see of the speaker, then he looked to the left at the rather studious profile of Lord Basildon.

The Chairman of Blades was leaning back, looking critically down his nose at the hand of cards which he held out and away from him as if it were a rare object. He looked across at his partner. Bond looked over Drax's shoulder. Drax had the ace of spades and the ace of hearts. He promptly made them both and led another heart which Basildon took on the table with the king.

I shall play Drax to have her. Meyer took the trick with the queen. Well, I'm damned. Anyway the rest are mine. He looked defensively at his partner. Drax doubles and Meyer has the queen. Drax chuckled. Your deal. So it had been Drax's deal the hand before. That might be important. Bond lit a cigarette and reflectively examined the back of Drax's head. Thought we'd come along and play some bridge this evening.

Basildon smiled up at Bond. He waved a hand round the table from the left to right. Drax half turned in his chair. Drax turned and glanced up at Bond, who caught a glimpse of a tuft of reddish moustache and a rather chilly blue eye.

Drax swivelled back to the table and picked up his cards. Bond watched the big blunt hands sort them. Drax didn't sort his cards into suits as most players do, but only into reds and blacks, ungraded, making his hand very difficult to kibitz and almost impossible for one of his neighbours, if they were so inclined to decipher. Bond went and stood beside the chimneypiece. He took out a cigarette and lit it at the flame from a small gas-jet enclosed in a silver grille--a relic of the days before the use of matches--that protruded from the wall beside him.

From where he stood he could see the hand of Meyer, and by moving a pace to the right, of Basildon. His view of Sir Hugo Drax was uninterrupted and he inspected him carefully while appearing to interest himself only in the game. Drax gave the impression of being a little larger than life. He was physically big--about six foot tall, Bond guessed--and his shoulders were exceptionally broad.

He had a big square head and the tight reddish hair was parted in the middle. On either side of the parting the hair dipped down in a curve towards the temples with the object, Bond assumed, of hiding as much as possible of the tissue of shining puckered skin that covered most of the right half of his face.

Other relics of plastic surgery could be detected in the man's right ear, which was not a perfect match with its companion on the left, and the right eye, which had been a surgical failure. It was considerably larger than the left eye, because of a contraction of the borrowed skin used to rebuild the upper and lower eyelids, and it looked painfully bloodshot. Bond doubted if it was capable of closing completely and he guessed that Drax covered it with a patch at night.

To conceal as much as possible of the unsightly taut skin that covered half his face, Drax had grown a bushy reddish moustache and had allowed his whiskers to grow down to the level of the lobes of his ears.

He also had patches of hair on his cheek-bones. The heavy moustache served another purpose. It helped to hide a naturally prognathous upper jaw and a marked protrusion of the upper row of teeth. Bond reflected that this was probably due to sucking his thumb as a child, and it had resulted in an ugly splaying, or diastema, of what Bond had heard his dentist call 'the centrals'.

The moustache helped to hide these 'ogre's teeth' and it was only when Drax uttered, as he frequently did, his short braying laugh that the splay could be seen. The general effect of the face--the riot of red-brown hair, the powerful nose and jaw, the florid skin--was flamboyant. It put Bond in mind of a ring-master at a circus. The contrasting sharpness and coldness of the left eye supported the likeness. A bullying, boorish, loud-mouthed vulgarian. That would have been Bond's verdict if he had not known something of Drax's abilities.

As it was, it crossed his mind that much of the effect might be Drax's idea of a latter-day Regency buck--the harmless disguise of a man with a smashed face who was also a snob. Looking for further clues, Bond noticed that Drax was sweating rather freely. Despite the occasional growl of thunder outside it was a cool evening, and yet Drax was constantly mopping his face and neck with a huge bandana handkerchief.

He smoked incessantly, stubbing out the cork-tipped Virginia cigarettes after a dozen lungfuls of smoke and almost immediately lighting another from a box of fifty in his coat pocket. His big hands, their backs thickly covered with reddish hair, were always on the move, fiddling with his cards, handling the cigarette lighter that stood beside a plain flat silver cigarette-case in front of him, twisting a lock of hair on the side of his head, using the handkerchief on his face and neck.

Occasionally he put a finger greedily to his mouth and worried a nail. Even at a distance Bond could see that every finger-nail was bitten down to the quick. The hands themselves were strong and capable but the thumbs had something ungainly about them which it took Bond a moment or two to define.

He finally detected that they were unnaturally long and reached level with the top joint of the index finger. Bond concluded his inspection with Drax's clothes which were expensive and in excellent taste--a dark blue pinstripe in lightweight flannel, double-breasted with turnback cuffs, a heavy white silk shirt with a stiff collar, an unobtrusive tie with a small grey and white check, modest cuff-links, which looked like Cartier, and a plain gold Patek Philippe watch with a black leather strap.

Bond lit another cigarette and concentrated on the game, leaving his subconscious to digest the details of Drax's appearance and manner that had seemed to him significant and that might help to explain the riddle of his cheating, the nature of which had still to be discovered.

Now then, Max, see if you can't pick up a few aces. I'm tired of doing all the work. How about a challenge after dinner? Max and I'll take on you and Commander Thingummy. What did you say his name was? Good player? Bond's eyes were glued to the bent head and slowly moving hands of the dealer.

Yes, that was it! Got you, you bastard. A Shiner. A simple, bloody Shiner that wouldn't have lasted five minutes in a pro's game. He made an imperceptible movement of the head. You always say it'll amuse me. Come along. It's in the Secretary's office. Then Basildon can come down and give us a cocktail and tell us the result of this death-struggle.

They walked down the stairs and along to the Secretary's office in silence. The room was in darkness. He turned the chair to face Bond who had walked over to the empty fireplace and was taking out a cigarette. He never takes cigarettes from it. Doesn't want to get fingermarks on the surface. It's plain silver and very highly polished. When he deals, it's almost concealed by the cards and his big hands.

And he doesn't move his hands away from it. Deals four piles quite close to him. Every card is reflected in the top of the case. It's just as good as a mirror although it looks perfectly innocent lying there. As he's such a good businessman it would be normal for him to have a first-class memory. You remember I told you about 'Shiners'? Well, that's just a version of one.

No wonder he brings off these miraculous finesses every once in a while. That double we watched was easy. He knew his partner had the guarded queen. With his two aces the double was a certainty. The rest of the time he just plays his average game. But knowing all the cards on every fourth deal is a terrific edge. It's not surprising he always shows a profit. And he covers up with a lot of banter, much more than he produces when someone else is dealing.

I expect he's got very good peripheral vision--the thing they mark us so highly for when we take our medical for the Service. Very wide angle of sight. The door opened and Basildon came in. He was bristling. He shut the door behind him. Between them they had the ace of hearts, six club tricks, and the ace, king of diamonds and a bare guard in spades.

Made nine tricks straight off. How he had the face to open Three No Trumps I can't imagine. Bloody millionaire. Rolling in money. Fine scandal we're in for. I'll simply have to tell the Committee. Haven't had a cheating case since the 'fourteen-eighteen war.

The club was quickly forgotten as he remembered the significance of Drax himself. Only comes up here once or twice a week for a bit of relaxation. Why, the man's a public hero! Basildon's anger was chilled by the thought of his responsibility. He turned to M. He's won thousands of pounds in this club and others have lost it. Take this evening. It doesn't matter about my losses, of course.

But what about Dangerfield? I happen to know he's been having a bad time on the stock market lately. I don't see how I can avoid telling the Committee. Can't shirk it--whoever Drax is.

And you know what that'll mean. There are ten on the Committee. Bound to be a leak. And then look at the scandal. They tell me the Moonraker can't exist without Drax and the papers say the whole future of the country depends on the thing. This is a damned serious business.

Bond stubbed out his cigarette. Of course Meyer'd get hurt in the process. Might lose a lot of money as Drax's partner. Would that matter? Making plenty of money playing with him. You don't think Although some of Drax's bids must come as a bit of a shock. Well," he turned to M. He looked at Bond. Don't like the idea, but I can see Basildon's point. So long as you can bring it off and," he smiled, "as long as you don't want me to palm any cards or anything of that sort.

No talent for it. He put his hands in his coat pockets and touched the two silk handkerchiefs. All I need is a couple of packs of used cards, one of each colour, and ten minutes in here alone. It was eight o'clock as Bond followed M.

Instead, he walked firmly across the room to the end one of a row of six smaller tables, waved Bond into the comfortable armed chair that faced outwards into the room, and himself took the one on Bond's left so that his back was to the company. The head steward was already behind Bond's chair. He placed a broad menu card beside his plate and handed another to M. Below there was a forest of print. One of the first rules of the club, and one of the best, was that any member may speak for any dish, cheap or dear, but he must pay for it.

The same's true today, only the odds are one doesn't have to pay for it. Just order what you feel like. Devilled kidney and a slice of your excellent bacon. Peas and new potatoes. Strawberries in kirsch. What about you, James?

Then he pointed down the menu. The same vegetables as you, as it's May. And perhaps a slice of pineapple. He looked up at the steward. We got half a dozen in today from the country, and I'd specially kept one in case you came in. You know I can't resist them. Bad for me but it can't be helped. God knows what I'm celebrating this evening.

But it doesn't often happen. Ask Grimley to come over, would you. This is real pre-war Wolfschmidt from Riga.

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Like some with your smoked salmon? Personally I'm going to have a half-bottle of claret. The Mouton Rothschild '34, please, Grimley. But don't pay any attention to me, James. I'm an old man. Champagne's no good for me.

We've got some good champagnes, haven't we, Grimley? None of that stuff you're always telling me about, I'm afraid, James. Don't often see it in England. Taittinger, wasn't it? Bond smiled at M. As a matter of fact, for various reasons I believe I would like to drink champagne this evening. Perhaps I could leave it to Grimley. The wine-waiter was pleased. I understand that France only sells it for dollars, sir, so you don't often see it in London.

I believe it was a gift from the Regency Club in New York, sir. I have some on ice at the moment. It's the Chairman's favourite and he's told me to have it ready every evening in case he needs it. A waitress appeared and put racks of fresh toast on the table and a silver dish of Jersey butter. As she bent over the table her black skirt brushed Bond's arm and he looked up into two pert, sparkling eyes under a soft fringe of hair.

The eyes held his for a fraction of a second and then she whisked away. Bond's eyes followed the white bow at her waist and the starched collar and cuffs of her uniform as she went down the long room. His eyes narrowed. He recalled a pre-war establishment in Paris where the girls were dressed with the same exciting severity. Until they turned round and showed their backs. I'll have to seem very drunk when the time comes.

It's not an easy thing to act unless you do it with a good deal of conviction. I hope you won't get worried if I seem to get frayed at the edges later on. Ah, here's the vodka. When M. The pepper slowly settled to the bottom of the glass leaving a few grains on the surface which Bond dabbed up with the tip of a finger.

Then he tossed the cold liquor well to the back of his throat and put his glass, with the dregs of the pepper at the bottom, back on the table.

In Russia, where you get a lot of bath-tub liquor, it's an understood thing to sprinkle a little pepper in your glass. It takes the fusel oil to the bottom. I got to like the taste and now it's a habit.

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But I shouldn't have insulted the club Wolfschmidt," he added with a grin. A harsh bray of laughter came from a table at the far end of the room. Bond helped himself to another slice of smoked salmon from the silver dish beside him. It had the delicate glutinous texture only achieved by Highland curers--very different from the dessicated products of Scandinavia. He rolled a wafer-thin slice of brown bread-and-butter into a cylinder and contemplated it thoughtfully.

At first I was rather surprised that you tolerate him here. And in any case he's a national hero and a millionaire and obviously an adequate card-player. Even when he isn't helping himself to the odds," he added. Full-blooded, ruthless, shrewd. Plenty of guts. I'm not surprised he's managed to get where he is.

What I don't understand is why he should be quite happy to throw it all away. This cheating of his. It's really beyond belief. What's he trying to prove with it? That he can beat everyone at everything? He seems to put so much passion into his cards--as if it wasn't a game at all, but some sort of trial of strength. You've only got to look at his fingernails. Bitten to the quick.

And he sweats too much. There's a lot of tension there somewhere. It comes out in those ghastly jokes of his. They're harsh. There's no light touch about them.

He seemed to want to squash Basildon like a fly. Hope I shall be able to keep my temper. That manner of his is pretty riling. He even treats his partner as if he was muck. He hasn't quite got under my skin, but I shan't at all mind sticking a very sharp pin in him tonight.

After all, it's a big step from the Liverpool docks, or wherever he came from, to where he is now. And he's one of those people who was born with naturally hairy heels. Nothing to do with snobbery. I expect his mates in Liverpool found him just as loud-mouthed as Blades does.

As for his cheating, there's probably a crooked streak in him somewhere. I dare say he took plenty of short cuts on his way up. Somebody said that to become very rich you have to be helped by a combination of remarkable circumstances and an unbroken run of luck. It certainly isn't only the qualities of people that make them rich. At least that's my experience. At the beginning, getting together the first ten thousand, or the first hundred thousand, things have got to go damn right.

And in that commodity business after the war, with all the regulations and restrictions, I expect it was often a case of being able to drop a thousand pounds in the right pocket. The ones who understand nothing but addition, division--and silence. The useful ones. With it arrived the champagne in a silver ice-bucket, and the small wicker-basket containing M.

The wine-steward waited until they had delivered a favourable judgment on the wines and then moved away. As he did so a page came up to their table. Bond took the envelope that was handed to him and slit it open. He took out a thin paper packet and carefully opened it under the level of the table. It contained a white powder. He took a silver fruit knife off the table and dipped the tip of the blade into the packet so that about half its contents were transferred to the knife.

He reached for his glass of champagne and tipped the powder into it. There was no hint of apology in Bond's face. It wasn't M. Bond knew what he was doing. Whenever he had a job of work to do he would take infinite pains beforehand and leave as little as possible to chance. Then if something went wrong it was the unforeseeable. For that he accepted no responsibility. It's what I shall need if I'm going to keep my wits about me tonight.

It's apt to make one a bit over-confident, but that'll be a help too. Then he drank the mixture down with one long swallow. How were the cutlets?

The best English cooking is the best in the world--particularly at this time of the year. By the way, what stakes will we be playing for this evening? I don't mind very much. We ought to end up the winners. But I'd like to know how much it will cost Drax.

In fact it's one tenner a hundred and one hundred pounds on the rubber. Mounts up at those figures. The average rubber of bridge at Blades is about ten points. And the bridge here makes for big rubbers. There are no conventions so there's plenty of gambling and bluffing. Sometimes it's more like poker. They're a mixed lot of players. Some of them are the best in England, but others are terribly wild.

Don't seem to mind how much they lose. General Bealey, just behind us. Nearly always a few hundred down at the end of the week.

Doesn't seem to care. Bad heart. No dependants. Stacks of money from jute. But Duff Sutherland, the scruffy-looking chap next to the chairman, is an absolute killer. Makes a regular ten thousand a year out of the club.

Wonderful card manners. Used to play chess for England. It was placed upright in a spotless lace napkin on the silver plate. An ornate silver marrow-scoop was laid beside it. After the asparagus, Bond had little appetite for the thin slivers of pineapple. He tipped the last of the ice-cold champagne into his glass.

Moonraker (James Bond #3)

He felt wonderful. The effects of the benzedrine and champagne had more than offset the splendour of the food. For the first time he took his mind away from the dinner and his conversation with M. It was a sparkling scene. There were perhaps fifty men in the room, the majority in dinner jackets, all at ease with themselves and their surroundings, all stimulated by the peerless food and drink, all animated by a common interest--the prospect of high gambling, the grand slam, the ace pot, the key-throw in a 64 game at backgammon.

There might be cheats or possible cheats amongst them, men who beat their wives, men with perverse instincts, greedy men, cowardly men, lying men; but the elegance of the room invested each one with a kind of aristocracy. At the far end, above the cold table, laden with lobsters, pies, joints and delicacies in aspic, Romney's unfinished full-length portrait of Mrs Fitzherbert gazed provocatively across at Fragonard's Jeu de Cartes , the broad conversation-piece which half-filled the opposite wall above the Adam fireplace.

Along the lateral walls, in the centre of each gilt-edged panel, was one of the rare engravings of the Hell-Fire Club in which each figure is shown making a minute gesture of scatological or magical significance.

Above, marrying the walls into the ceiling, ran a frieze in plaster relief of carved urns and swags interrupted at intervals by the capitals of the fluted pilasters which framed the windows and the tall double doors, the latter delicately carved with a design showing the Tudor Rose interwoven with a ribbon effect.

The central chandelier, a cascade of crystal ropes terminating in a broad basket of strung quartz, sparkled warmly above the white damask tablecloths and George IV silver. Below, in the centre of each table, branched candlesticks distributed the golden light of three candles, each surmounted by a red silk shade, so that the faces of the diners shone with a convivial warmth which glossed over the occasional chill of an eye or cruel twist of a mouth.

Even as Bond drank in the warm elegance of the scene, some of the groups began to break up. There was a drift towards the door accompanied by an exchange of challenges, side-bets, and exhortations to hurry up and get down to business. Sir Hugo Drax, his hairy red face shining with cheerful anticipation, came towards them with Meyer in his wake. Made your wills? Drax laughed. Meyer enveloped them in an uncertain smile and followed him.

Any final plans? When it's his deal, we'll have to be careful. Of course, he can't alter the cards and there's no reason why he shouldn't deal us good hands, but he's bound to bring off some pretty remarkable coups. Do you mind if I sit on his left? Bond reflected for a moment. That will mean that you are about to be dealt a Yarborough. Would you please leave the bidding of that hand to me? Drax and Meyer were waiting for them.

Moonraker Audiobook

They were leaning back in their chairs, smoking Cabinet Havanas. On the small tables beside them there was coffee and large balloons of brandy. The other pack was fanned out across the green baize in front of him. He leant forward and cut a card. They all followed suit. Drax won the cut and elected to stay where he was and take the red cards. He took out a thin black cheroot and offered one to Bond who accepted it. Then he picked up the red cards and started to shuffle them. Or more? I'll be glad to accommodate you up to Five and Five.

Bond answered for M. He smiled at Drax. What would you like to take off me? He suddenly decided to be ruthless. Let's play for that. Moonraker's bride , Ulverscroft. Moonrakers' bride , Fontana. Moonraker's Bride June 12, , Fawcett. Moonrakers' bride , Pan Books. Moonraker's bride. Moonraker's Bride , Souvenir Press. Moonraker's Bride , Doubleday. DAISY for print-disabled. History Created December 10, 10 revisions Download catalog record: Libraries near you: WorldCat Library.

Moonraker's bride , Ulverscroft in English - Large print ed. Moonrakers' bride , Fontana in English. Moonraker's Bride June 12, , Fawcett in English.

Moonrakers' bride , Pan Books in English. Hall in English. Moonraker's Bride , Souvenir Press in English. Moonraker's Bride , Doubleday in English. September 27, Edited by VioletFrost. May 14, Edited by Steffanie Hill. I included the nom de plume under which this novel was published.

It is the name on the book, Madeleine Brent.