Seth's Reviews > Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 28, 2012

it was ok

Diamonds are Forever is the first of Ian Fleming's 007 books to read like a 1950s men's novel -- a hardpack shamus clobbers a bunch of mobsters while trying to unpants a foxy, sassmouth broad. (Or does that broad, Tiffany Case, qualify as a dame? I should ask my friend Dixie Laite.) That's pretty much the whole story right there. James Bond isn't doing any world saving, any Cold War upkeep, not even any revenging. The Brits are just peeved that American gangsters are stealing their diamonds, so they send Bond to make them quit it, and he does and on the way gets laid and a haircut in Vegas.

Fleming doesn't leave us much to remember along the way. Even the hitmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, so memorable from Guy Hamilton's 1971 film version of the novel, in the book are dull thugs seemingly lifted from an Abbott and Costello movie. (Though interestingly Fleming makes a point of noting that Wint and Kidd are gay, without using that fact to inform their characterization any more than their brand of pomade.) The two are accompanied by a series of equally boring bonehead trigger monkeys, all at the command of Seraffimo Spang, a villain that contributes nothing to doubleohseveniana other than a name so terrible that one suspects Fleming dubbed him after his chiropractor in exchange for a 15% discount. Oh, and Felix Leiter shows up again, now with a hook for a hand from being fed to the sharks in Live and Let Die and a cushy new job chasing down horse-racing cheats for the Pinkertons.

The only real morsel Diamonds are Forever offers Bond-likers is a new focus on -- or possibly the debut of -- 007's arrogance. Fleming's hero makes clear his utter disregard for American mafioso and the unworthiness of those "teen-age pillow-fantasies" to even take up space on his timesheet. While posing as a smuggler trying out for mob gig, Bond gets bored and irritated, thinking

He resented having been ordered to Saratoga and then to this hideous sucker-trap at the say-so of a handful of big-time hoodlums. Here he was, eating their dinner and sleeping in their bed, while they watched him, James Bond, and sized him up and debated whether his hand was steady enough...

Eventually the crooks a get a few licks in, and it's unclear whether we're supposed to think that 007's been humbled by them. Because in the end, of course, Bond gets the girl and saves the diamonds and kills every single one of the bad guys. He pointedly notes that it's really nothing but another day on the job for him, the kind of thing that "reads better than it lives." Nope.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Diamonds Are Forever.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.