Built in 1907-08, King’s House is the residence of the Governor is Jamaica. As Dr. No opens, Fleming sets the stage for us.
Richmond Road is the ‘best’ road in all Jamaica. It is Jamaica’s Park Avenue, its Kensington Palace Gardens, its Avenue D’Iena. The ‘best’ people live in its big old-fashioned houses, each in an acre or two of beautiful lawn set, too trimly, with the finest trees and flowers from the Botanical Gardens at Hope. The long, straight road is cool and quiet and withdrawn from the hot, vulgar sprawl of Kingston where its residents earn their money, and, on the other side of the T-intersection at its top, lie the grounds of King’s House, where the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Jamaica lives with his family. In Jamaica, no road could have a finer ending.
When James Bond arrives in Jamaica, he is brought to his hotel, and then the next morning to King’s House for a meeting with The Acting Governor, and then with the Colonial Secretary, Pleydell-Smith.
At the end of the novel, Bond returns to King’s House for a mission wrap-up meeting, and is eager to leave the residence and get back to the coast.
The opening chapter of Dr. No has a disturbing scene taking place at an exclusive establishment in Kingston Jamaica, not far from King’s House.
On the eastern corner of the top intersection stands No 1 Richmond Road, a substantial two-storey house with broad white-painted verandas running round both floors. From the road a gravel path leads up to the pillared entrance through wide lawns marked out with tennis courts on which this evening, as on all evenings, the sprinklers are at work. This mansion is the social Mecca of Kingston. It is Queen’s Club, which, for fifty years, has boasted the power and frequency of its black-balls.
Such stubborn retreats will not long survive in modern Jamaica. One day Queen’s Club will have its windows smashed and perhaps be burned to the ground, but for the time being it is a useful place to find in a sub-tropical island—well run, well staffed and with the finest cuisine and cellar in the Caribbean.
Inside the club, four prominent men are playing their nightly game of high bridge. One of the men, Commander John Strangways leaves the club at 6:15, as is his routine, to run back to his office for a daily call, after which he normally returns to the club.
This time however, he will will not return.
Just before six-fifteen, the silence of Richmond Road was softly broken. Three blind beggars came round the corner of the intersection and moved slowly down the pavement towards the four cars. They were Chigroes—Chinese Negroes—bulky men, but bowed as they shuffled along, tapping at the kerb with their white sticks. They walked in file. The first man, who wore blue glasses and could presumably see better than the others, walked in front holding a tin cup against the crook of the stick in his left hand. The right hand of the second man rested on his shoulder and the right hand of the third on the shoulder of the second.
Strangways is shockingly killed, and the events are set in motion which eventually brings James Bond to the island of Jamaica.
The Colonial Secretary, Pleydell-Smith later takes Bond to lunch at Queen’s Club, where he gives Bond some more background on the case and on the people of Jamaica.
Fleming’s Queen’s Club is based on the real life Liguanea Club. which opened in 1910, and is still in business to this day.
Interestingly, in The Man With The Golden Gun, Fleming has Mary Goodnight telling Bond about her house in Kingston, and she says:
‘And James, it’s not far from the Liguanea Club and you can go there and play bridge and golf when you get better. There’ll be plenty of people for you to talk to.
Whether Fleming’s change was accidental or due to the change in government (Jamaica became Independent) he removed the Queen’s Club name, I’m not sure, but it is interesting.
When James Bond arrives in Paris, after having departed the Orient Express in Dijon, he heads to the luxurious Ritz Hotel.
Bond’s taxi pulls up to the Rue Cambon entrance of the hotel.
He goes into the hotel, takes a left and goes into the Ritz bar, where he has a double vodka martini.
Bond feels wonderful at the moment. After finishing his martini, he goes to the concierge lodge, is given a pass-key (and a sharp look) on orders from Rene Mathis, and heads to his destination – room 204.
Here are a couple of the suites from the Ritz Paris, which has been under renovation for the last few years. These are from prior to the renovations.
It was a typical Ritz sitting-room, extremely elegant, with good Empire furniture. The walls were white and the curtains and chair covers were of a small patterned chintz of red roses on white. The carpet was wine-red and close-fitted.
In a pool of sunshine, in a low-armed chair beside a Directoire writing desk, a little old woman sat knitting.
The novel From Russia With Love ends inside this room 204 of the Ritz Hotel, Paris.
In From Russia With Love, after James Bond has a disagreement with Captain Nash, he decides to take Tatiana and leave the train at Dijon. (Gare de Dijon-Ville)
At last they were down the steps and on to the hard, wonderful, motionless platform. A blue-smocked porter took their luggage.
The sun was beginning to rise. At that hour of the morning there were very few passengers awake. Only a handful in the third class, who had ridden ‘hard’ through the night, saw a young man help a young girl away from the dusty carriage with the romantic names on its side toward the drab door that said ‘SORTIE’.
They make their own way to Paris.
The station in Dijon was opened in 1849 and remains in operation to this day. By the way, SORTIE is just a designation for an exit.
In From Russia With Love, the Simplon Tunnel is the planned killing ground for Red Grant/Captain Nash to do away with James Bond and Tatiana Romanova, completing the SMERSH plan to embarrass the British Secret Service and eliminate Bond, who has been a thorn in their side.
Nash took a quick glance at his wrist watch. ‘In about twenty minutes we go into the Simplon tunnel. That’s where they want it done. More drama for the papers. One bullet for you. As we go into the tunnel. Just one in the heart. The noise of the tunnel will help in case you’re a noisy dier – rattle and so forth. Then one in the back of the neck for here – with your gun- and out the window she goes.
A few moments later, Nash explains the appeal for the press:
Old man, the story’s got everything. Orient Express. Beautiful Russian spy murdered in Simplon tunnel.
Bond then knows that he’s walked right into the trap.
The Simplon Tunnel is 12 miles (20km) long and connects Italy with Switzerland through the Alps. The first tunnel was completed in 1905 and the second in 1921. This allowed the Orient Express to get through to Italy while avoiding pro-German territory.
The station on the Italian side of the tunnel is the Stazione di Iselle di Trasquera. After passing through the tunnel, the train arrives in the Brig Railway Station in Switzerland.
After meeting up with Captain Nash at Trieste, James Bond is relieved to have some help, and an opportunity to eat and spend some time with Tatiana.
After eating dinner in the restaurant car – tagliatelli verdi (Green, narrow ribbons of pasta) and an escalope (slice of meat pounded thin and breaded) they retire to their berth. It is just as they are pulling into Mestre – which is the mainland station of Venice.
After Mestre, they head to Venice, Bond asks Tatiana if she’d like to see the station, but she says it’s just another station, and she has something else she wants to do with Bond at the moment.
They then fall asleep, continuing to sleep as they pass through Padua (Padova):
And then Vicenza:
There was then a “fabulous sunset over Verona.”
After passing through Verona, Bond awakes as the sun is going down. He looks out over the Lombardy Plain. He’s feeling good.
After Poggioreale, the Orient Express is fully into Italy, and James Bond is feeling a bit better about things.
We’ve made it, thought Bond. I really think we’ve made it. He thrust the memory of the last three days away from him. Tatiana saw the tense lines in his face relax. She reached over and took his hand. He moved and sat close to her. They looked out at the gay villas on the Corniche* and at the sailing boats and the people water-skiing.
The train clanged across some points and slid quietly into the gleaming station of Trieste.
The station in Trieste opened in 1857, and was in its centennial year when the events of From Russia With Love took place. In the post-WWII years, Trieste was something of a political hotbed, with both Italy and Yugoslavia claiming territorial rights. from 1947-1954 the city was under UN protection, in two zones, one for each nation.
In Bond’s view, things may be looking up, but that will quickly change with the arrival of an unannounced agent.
*A “Corniche” is a cliff-side road, many times overlooking a body of water.