on May 23, 2002
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER marks the point in the James Bond series where Ian Fleming begins to tinker with the absurd. Later in the series, Dr. No is killed by falling guano, and Blofeld holds up on a Japanese "suicide island." In DAF, Bond takes a mud bath and fights a gangster who dresses up like a cowboy. Fleming writes that the gangster "should have looked ridiculous, but he didn't" in his western regalia. Funny, his description reads like he looks ridiculous.
All of Fleming's Bond books are worth reading, and DAF is no exception. But this isn't his strongest work. The theme switches from gangsters to western to Agatha Christy-esque cruise-ship drama. It doesn't really all hold together. Fleming also keeps introducing new villains. He is most effective with Wint and Kidd, who have an ominous presence throughout the book. Fleming perfects the ominous presence with Donovan Grant in his next book, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, but Wint and Kidd are adequately eerie and threatening.
Less effective are the Spang brothers. The Spangs seem to be the embodiment of Fleming's inability to make up his mind about who his villain was going to be. What little personality these characters have (along with appearance and even one of their names) changes almost every time they are mentioned. They don't catch on as other Bond villains do, which is perhaps why they didn't translate even in name into any Bond movie.
Another flaw of the book, and to some degree the series, is that Bond seems to be going along for the ride in DAF. He forgets or doesn't notice the most obvious clues (and is surprised by Wint and Kidd), lets his guard down at the mud baths, and generally doesn't prove why he's so special. He and the girl, Tiffany Case, come close to falling in love...but why? The relationship seems very shallow. Finally, DAF is not really a spy novel. Bond is acting more like a detective than a spy. The reader is continuously reminded that these gangsters are just as tough as Russian spies and whatnot, but the reminder is only repeated because the story just isn't played out on as grand a stage as the cold war.
DAF has its strengths. Ian Fleming could have probably written a description of the contents of his refrigerator in an interesting way. For me, the settings of this book are familiar as well - it was neat to read about Bond staying at a hotel that I also stayed at. There's less 1950's atmosphere in this book than the others (another selling point for the other books), but DAF remains a genuine Bond novel, better than anything then non-Fleming Bond authors could produce. While not the best, Diamonds are Forever is at least enduring.
on December 26, 2005
This fourth book in Fleming's series doesn't quite hold up to the three previous Bond novels. The problem is that Fleming tries to create a far more complicated plot while at the same time fitting it into the 220-page formula of the previous Bond adventures. The end result feels like a pat adventure in which everything is bundled up in far too quick a fashion. The resolution of Bond's relationship with the ever-present female foil is oddly dropped in the final chapter. Are we to believe the two of them rode off happily into the sunset? Settled down and had children? Does she appear in the series' fifth novel? Who knows... like so many other elements in this particular entry, these questions and more are left unanswered. It's a shame. After the tight plotting and good character development of Moonraker, Fleming uncharacteristically dropped the ball on this particular one. Perhaps the publishers were pushing him too hard to meet a deadline. Diamonds could have been a classic, given the plot Fleming was playing with. Unfortunately, he falls a carat or two short.
on April 13, 2007
One almost gets the impression that both Ian Fleming and Bond were coasting on their reputations in this book. The plot is about comparatively low stakes for a spy novel, the pace is leisurely, Bond is oddly passive (Felix Leiter and Tiffany Case save the day as often as Bond does) and not particularly clever (at one point he almost blows his mission because he apparently got bored waiting for something to happen to move it along), and the villains and action sequences are just not that memorable, at least not in a good way. Strangely enough, that means that the book suffers in comparison both to the movie (which, while hardly five-star, had some quirky, memorable moments) and John Gardner's later Bond novels, which dig deeper into both the characters and the settings of the world of 007. While not actively bad, DAF does little to show you why Bond became a literary or cultural phenomenon. Donald J. Bingle, Author of Forced Conversion.
on July 28, 2016
If you like James Bond (and who doesn't?), then read the books! As with many of my generation, I first became exposed to James Bond through the movie franchise with Sean Connery and yes, the good old drive-in theater. Ian Fleming in 1952, at his home “Goldeneye” in Jamaica, he wrote a book called Casino Royale—and James Bond was born. One of my favorite Bond movies was "Diamonds Are Forever;" the book, however, written in 1956, was not quite as strong as the movie or the earlier three Bond novels. The book suffers from a weaker plot than most and a weaker and poorly fleshed out villain.
Still, if you like Bond, you really should read the books, and "Diamonds Are Forever," despite some weaknesses, is still worth the read. Unfortunately not a lot of action happens in this book compared to earlier works; there is clearly a lack of tension for the reader. Never-the-less, the novel still offers the reader a good adventure feast which one can enjoy without gaining any weight! Many of Fleming's books, as this one, are certainly not politically correct - especially in some racial imagery! Regardless, knowing the time period and the fact that Fleming spent considerable time in Jamaica, so some of the language and local color is not surprising. The Bond franchise has been a long lasting mega-hit, and Ian Fleming deserves more credit for how carefully he crafted the plot and character in these books. If you enjoy Bond, if you enjoy action and adventure, don't just watch the movies --- read the Bond books!
on May 16, 2015
These are the ultimate action books and are very great reads. I tend to read fast and can get through one of these in about 2-3 days time. Very action packed. If you like the movies do yourself a favor and read the books. The books get into more detail and are a little different story wise than the movies. The story line NEVER gets boring and will keep you right on the edge of your "seat" at times. I currently only have 4 out of the 13 left to read. I can see myself reading these over and over again. CLASSICS never DIE!! And neither does BOND.
on June 16, 2015
Good, fun. mindless reading. Curl up in an easy chair and enjoy, but don't look for this book to be like the movie . . . it isn't. Some of the same characters and basic plot lines, but action and activities are anything but predictable. James Bond seems like he wants to do things just to get into trouble with the Bad Guys. He takes a casino for thousands of dollars so they will try to kill him? He trusts a Female villain thinking his charm will win her over to the good side? Well, it works in the book. Fast paced, suspensefull, and fun to read right down to the last page.
on June 6, 2013
If I were a woman, I might conduct a séance, and then throttle the spirit of Ian Fleming. He's not a bad guy, mind you, but just once, I'd like to see a female character give James Bond a run for his money. So far I'm still waiting for a return on my initial investment. And I know this is one investment that probably won't pan out, but I can still hold onto a faint glimmer of false hope.
Vesper Lynd did come close, but she ultimately failed when paired next to Bond's wit and charm. Tiffany Case, however, pales in comparison. But you don't read James Bond to gain profound insights into the female psyche, unless you want to end up several miles in the wrong direction with a broken radiator and a flat tire.
I do find it interesting that once again Bond is tortured, and once again the reader completely misses out on the experience. Mr. Fleming must have decided that he couldn't top the scene in CASINO ROYALE, which brought a whole new meaning to the word punishment, so he decided to not even try. Life, though, proves a whole lot more interesting and fun and exciting, when you toss a cement wall in the middle of the highway every once in a while.
While I enjoyed DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, the main bad dude felt a bit nebulous, almost like an evil presence more than an evil person. And while the action was present and accounted for, it felt a bit less than full throttle, and the scenes seemed to end much too quickly.
I've enjoyed the Bond study thus far, simply because of his vast influence, and I'm happy to continue my journey, but I am thankful there's no test at the end.
Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
on September 11, 2015
Sure, it's James Bond, and sure, everyone is a stereotype, and sure the women in these stories are primarily playthings for our dashing lead character, but damn... These stories are FUN to read! It's good to be non-PC every now and then. So go ahead and put away your ability to be easily offended and read one. You might just enjoy the escapism.
on March 14, 2013
Diamonds Are Forever, first published in 1956, was the fourth James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming. James Bond is a British Secret Service agent in the MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6) agency that deals with foreign intelligence. In this novel James Bond (007) goes undercover to investigate a diamond-smuggling operation moving uncut diamonds from Sierra Leone to the United States. It turns out that the smuggling is headed by two mobsters, the Spang brothers. Bond infiltrates the smuggling ring and a beautiful woman (Tiffany Case) is his first contact on the job. Eventually Bond meets the mob bosses, learns about their fixed horse racing game in Saratoga, and then their completely corrupt gambling environment in Las Vegas. He also uncovers the details of their diamond smuggling activities. Of course, he blows his cover and violence and death ensue. Even so, Bond manages to enjoy his relationship with Tiffany. This book has the usual high-living, high-glamour, high-crime milieus that are part of the 007 genre. It also has the requisite violence and heroic actions by Bond that is expected by Fleming's fans. I enjoyed this novel very much, even though I had previously read four other James Bond novels by Fleming and I have seen most of the movies. I saw the Diamonds Are Forever movie a very long time ago and I must confess that I don't remember much about it. Anyway, I highly recommend that reading these books is worthwhile even if you have seen the movies. If you really want to know James Bond, you should consult his creator by reading the Ian Fleming books. However don't expect that these books can match the explosive special effects that recent 007 movies provide.
on October 10, 2002
A regrettable sense of ennui permeates Diamonds are Forever, Ian Fleming's fourth novel featuring British secret agent James Bond. It is obvious that Fleming was starting to grow bored with his most famous creation and, as a result, Diamonds are Forever lacks the thrill-ride atmosphere that distinguishes the best of Fleming's books. For the first time, Bond deals with villians outside of the realm of the Soviet Union and the Spangled Mob, a rather anonymous group of American gangsters, never come across as worthy adversaries. While Bond, himself, is drawn with the usual finnesse (and displays a grimly cynical outlook that stands in stark contrast to his previous appearances), the rest of the characters -- with one important exception -- are rather forgettable and Bond's mission (to stop a jewelry smuggling ring) is rather pedestrian. However, this book does feature one truly exceptional feature and that is the character of Tiffany Case. A ruthless, yet at time touchingly vulnerable, smuggler, Case is one of Fleming's strongest female characters and her romance with Bond is the book's highlight. As opposed to the other women who populate many of Fleming's books, Case comes across as a truly capable heroine in her own right and it is easy to see why Bond ends up truly falling for her with an intensity to match his feelings for Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale and, later, Tracy in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Even if the book's plot is less than enthralling, it is impossible not to get caught up in the fate of Tiffany's and Bond's dangerous romance and to not hope the best for both of them. Fleming is often criticized as being a sexist but in Tiffany Case, he creates a fascinating female character who can proudly stand against the cardboard femme fatales that have populated so many Bond-influenced spy thrillers since. In the end, whatever the book's flaws, just the chance to make the acquaintance of Tiffany Case makes this book worth the read.