Classic Corner – Diamonds Are Forever

Rating:
4/5

Name: Diamonds Are Forever

Author: Ian Fleming

Year: 1956

Genre: Spy

For this week’s review I shall be reviewing Diamonds Are Forever, the fourth James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming.

Plot

The novel begins in South Africa where a dentist employed at the diamond mines in Africa near Sierra Leone is meeting a man in the desert as part of a wider criminal conspiracy to smuggle diamonds.

A few weeks later in London, the police have arrested a key link in this pipeline – a man named Peter Franks when M decides to let Bond take Franks’ place in the pipeline – with the aim of following the pipeline to it’s source and destroying it. It is believed the source lies in America with the Spangled Mob – one of the USA’s biggest mobster gangs who are using the diamonds to make money to finance it’s criminal activities – including selling the diamonds as jewellery at the House of Diamonds jewellers back in London.

Bond meets Franks’ handler, the beautiful Tiffany Case and manages to successfully smuggle the diamonds out of London and into America. There he meets the Spangled Mob and tries to infiltrate the gang further – whilst being led to some of America’s glamorous gambling mecca’s – including the glittering lights of Las Vegas.

However as Bond plays with fire in the gang, will he eventually get his fingers burnt…..

Thoughts

This review follows on from my review last month of the third James Bond novel, Moonraker and once again Ian Fleming as created a brilliant thriller novel.

In many ways I found Diamonds Are Forever to be much more relevant to a modern audience then all of the previous three entries to the series. In this adventure Bond is not dealing with the defunct Soviet Union, but a gang of criminals, a villain which we are all aware of and can believe in and Fleming takes this very gritty setting and adds in all the traditional elements of Bond:- the glamorous locations, action, espionage etc..

The book moves along at a very fast pace and it is interesting to see Bond operate on the inside of the gang, slowly increasing his status there before he can stab them in the back and the novel has its fair share of twist and turns to keep you reading. Also in a pleasing touch for longstanding fans of the series, Bond’s American counterpart Felix Leiter, a character last seen in Live and Let Die also makes an appearance within this novel.

Also once again, Fleming has created a strong female lead in Tiffany Case. In many ways Tiffany is a stronger female character than her predecessor Gala Brand, even rescuing Bond from the hands of the villains at one stage of the novel so she doesn’t fulfil the typical “damsel in distress” seen in some of the earlier Bond novels.

If I was to be picky, a handful of issues could be found – the novel obviously still has elements which are old fashioned – the reason M is so keen on infiltrating the gang is they are stealing the diamonds from a company which was a key asset to the British Commonwealth – basically the integrity of the British Empire is at stake. Also two of the henchman in the novel, Wint and Kidd are known to be in a homosexual relationship with one another and there are some attitudes expressed in the novel which may be uncomfortable in 2015 for some.

Verdict

Though a trifle old-fashioned, Diamonds are Forever takes the traditional Bond formula and makes it more glitzy. more glamorous and also more gritty – a very enjoyable thriller.

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