Wednesday, August 05, 2009

James Bond Daily: Diamonds Are Forever

The fourth Bond novel brings 007 back to America -- after his trip in the second novel, Live and Let Die -- and sees Ian Fleming working with the popular mid-50s conception of the gangster-ridden USA. (I believe this is the third book I've read this year that mentioned the Kefauver Commission -- who could have expected that?)

Bond is sent to trace back a diamond pipeline and shut it down -- it begins in Africa, with stones smuggled out of a mine with the connivance of the on-site dentist, and leads through London to those US gangs, eventually ending with the Spangled Mob in Las Vegas -- and of course he does so. He's sent in replacing a courier, and his partner is the chilly Tiffany Case, whom of course he thaws before the end of the novel.

Diamonds Are Forever is more of what we think of as a Bond story than the first three novels -- Bond is still crabby and morose a lot of the time, and he's not nearly as much of a womanizer as in the movies, but there are two quirky killers (Wint and Kidd, picked up and only slightly enhanced for the movie), the girl who melts nearly at Bond's first touch, and a criminal organization run by self-important larger-than-life thugs.

The movie updated the story from the Las Vegas of 1956 to that of 1971, and tinkered with a few of the other locations, but mostly told the front half of the story straight -- and then bolted on various oddities (like the killer cupcakes Bambi and Thumper) in the course of turning it into a SPECTRE plot and bringing back Blofeld for his last and least major turn. The book is much better than the movie, though it was a cartoon of America -- even of Vegas, which has been halfway to a cartoon since 1946 or so -- even at the time.


Anonymous said...

Andy: Why are you making me want to read these?

jeff ford

Andrew Wheeler said...

Jeff: Well, they're good thrillers, and a fascinating window into the Cold War '50s. I wouldn't be reading them myself if I didn't think they were worth revisiting.

Anonymous said...

Andy: You've sold me on checking them out.


Howard said...

Yes, I'm slowly working my way through them also. Just finished this one, and thought it was an interesting view of gangs in the '50's (and Vegas).

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