Friday, May 17, 2024



My progression through Ian Fleming's James Bond books continues with Diamonds Are Forever, the fourth of the Bond books, published in 1956. 

When I originally read these books more than 50 years ago, I ranked Diamonds Are Forever above all but the most known of the Bond books. With reflection brought by a half-century of reading and experiences, I've changed my view. 

This fourth book in the Bond series is well worth reading. It provides an interesting historical look at American organized crime, mid-century horse racing and the early years of Las Vegas. But the story comes up a little short in the Bond genre, and I rank it as the weakest of the first four Bond books. In fact, excluding The Spy Who Loved Me, it may bemy least favorite of all the Bond novels.

The story is a tale of diamond smuggling from South Africa, through England, New York City, the race track at Saratoga, and on to Las Vegas. The shortcoming is that this is more of a police story about catching smugglers than a spy thriller. It seems a bit inconsequential for a 00 agent like Bond. 

As with most of the Bond book-to-film conversions, the 1971 movie does not resemble the movie in the most essential parts of the plot. However, there are some interesting aspects of the book that were appropriated by the moviemakers.

 In the opening scene in the movie, a dentist removes diamonds smuggled by mine workers. It comes almost directly from the opening scene in Fleming's book. Perhaps most surprisingly, the gay assassination team of Kidd and Wentz also comes directly from Fleming's novel. So, too, does the quirkily-named Tiffany Case, who is a much more complex femme fatale in the book than the character played by Jill St. John in the movie. There is character named Shady Tree in the book, but he's not the comedian who appears in the movie. There is no Willard White and Ernst Stavro Blofeld doesn't appear in the book. He is not introduced until Thunderball, which is much later in the Bond series.

A side note about the genesis of the book. Ian Fleming was the foreign editor of the London Sunday Times. He researched the diamond trade and diamond smuggling for a series of articles published in the London Sunday Times, which gave rise to the plot of Diamonds Are Forever. The articles were later collected and published in one of Fleming's two non-fiction books, The Diamond Smugglers, published in 1957.

This book is still well worth reading and a MUST for any true Bond fan.

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