CASINO ROYALE - The first book in a series, which spawned a franchise, is Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. James Bond, secret agent 007, targets a communist paymaster, LeChiffre, under the Soviet murder organization named SMERSH. A game of baccarat, white hot lovers, a dapper dashing gentleman, a femme fatale, some brutish torture and a double crossing twist ending … rise and fall in this suspenseful spy thriller. The introduction and resolution occur outside the casino; otherwise the characters inhabit a world of sumptuous elegance amidst lurking danger in Royale-les-Eaux. The casino is set in a fictional seaside resort off the coast and beaches of Brittany. Fleming’s vivid descriptions are effortless, no doubt firmly rooted in the years he spent as a foreign correspondent in Europe. His expert command of French and English references are admirable, leaps and bounds above mediocre fare of the spy/ thriller idiom.