I always found spy thrillers enormously entertaining. I liked the action and suspense, the plentiful supply of gorgeous gals who always seemed to turn up and the exotic backgrounds.
Probably no one had the formula down better than Ian Fleming, and over the years the James Bond novels not only had more than their share of imitators; they provided the perfect template for other writers to follow. Beginning with Casino Royale, the first Bond novel, I read all of them at least once.
And as I think back, I can see why I and millions of other people were such eager consumers of these exotic stories. Take, for example, the plot of Casino Royale. M sends Bond to Casino Royale in France to play baccarat against Le Chiffre, who is the money man bankrolling SMERSH, the Russian counter-intelligence agency. Fleming was clearly ahead of his time. By the 1990’s there actually was a Le Chiffre on the world stage. His name was Osama bin Laden, and he was bankrolling a terror operation called al Quaeda. Like bin Laden, in the course of the story Le Chiffre finally gets his just desserts, but because Bond has played a role in Le Chiffre’s death, he is targeted for assassination, and this is where From Russia With Love begins.