The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Tiffany Case; The Villain: Jack Spang; Supporting Characters: Shady Tree, Moneypenny, “M”, Felix Leiter, Ernie Cureo, Bill Tanner, Commissioner Vallance; Locations Covered: London, Dakar, New York, Las Vegas; First Published: 1956
Diamonds Are Forever is Ian Fleming`s fourth Bond novel. Following on the heels of the excellent thrillers Casino Royale, Live And Let Die, and Moonraker, it was natural for Ian Fleming to be due for a fall. With Diamonds, that fall takes place.
It`s not a bad book. It`s just not particularly great either. It lacks a lot of the elements that made the first three novels so interesting. First, it lacks any real atmosphere. There seems to be no, for lack of a better word, aura, or feel that you get from the novel. Also, there was a lack of decidedly good villians in this book, and there was`nt much action until about page 142.
Another problem with `Diamonds` is that the plot isn`t really all that engaging. It concerns itself with England losing 2 million pounds per year in smuggled gems, but that`s about it. No other nefarious purposes are used for the diamonds except to get rich.
On the plus side, Tiffany Case makes for a much better Bond girl, than say Solitaire, from Live and Let Die. Tiffany is intregal to the case, and actually shows up quite often in the book. She gets some excellent dialogue and her interplay and relationship with Bond was very convincing. Tiffany led a rough life, being gang raped by hoods when she was 16. Fleming writes Tiffany pretty well. Her tragic past is her confusing present, as she tends to have a drinking problem to hide all her pain. She`s been in with the wrong crowd since the day she was born, and her vulnerability makes her more endearing to 007.
There`s also the duo of Wint and Kidd, two ruthless killers from Detroit hired to do the Spangled gangs dirty work.
The book has some good and funny moments.
Tiffany on where Bond intends to hide the diamonds he`s about to smuggle:
She changed the subject. “Got a wooden leg? False teeth?”
“No. Everything`s real.”
She frowned. “I keep telling them to find me a man with a wooden leg.”
Tiffany on how ruthless this mob is that Bond`s going into deep cover with:
“If I were you, i`d think a long time before joining our little group.Don`t go and get in wrong with the mob. If you`re planning anything cosy you`d better start taking harp lessons.”
Ernie Cureo on Mr. Spang`s wealth:
“That guy`s so loaded, he don`t wear glasses when he drives. Has the windshields of his Cadillacs ground to his prescription.”
The book also has some rich and deep dialogue between Tiffany and Bond. On the subject of marriage:
Bond: “Most marriages don`t add two people together. They subtract one from the other.”
Tiffany: “But it depends what you want it to add up to. Something human or somthing inhuman. You can`t be complete by yourself.”
The plot is slowgoing, and at times confusing. A lot of material is covered on diamonds and gambling procedures. It`s not really spelled out in laymans terms, so it`s hard to follow. At least for me it was.
There is no real action until about page 142, and then it becomes almost nonstop. Bond gets into a carchase, a fist fight, is tortured with football cleats, lights a fire, derails a train, swings over the side of a cruise ship and blows a helicopter out of the sky. The chapter “Night falls in the passion pit” is really when the book begins to hit it`s stride. Unfortunately, that`s about two thirds of the way in. Fleming wrote Tiffany so well, he had me scared that he was going to kill her off by the end of the book. It`s interesting though, in that if you know a little about the book series already, you get the feeling that Tiffany foreshadowed a much greater tragedy to occur in Bond`s life down the road.