Diamonds are Forever

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The fourth James Bond novel, and it's a step up from Moonraker, so that's good. I don't recall reading it in my younger days. (I do remember watching the movie. It was pretty bad, a waste of Sean Connery.)

Bond gets away from dealing with Russians in this one; he's tasked by M to impersonate a small-time crook who was recruited to smuggle a small fortune in African diamonds into the US. His job is to uncover the participants in the smuggling ring, mostly the mysterious ringleader known only as A B C. He's assigned a handler, "Tiffany Case", who (no surprises here) eventually becomes Bond's love interest. (Kind of a joke name, but she's got an explanation for it.)

I'd say the book is 70% travelogue. I could gripe about that, but I found I didn't mind it that much; it's an interesting look at life in the late 1950s. The first leg of Bond's journey is a transatlantic hop on a BOAC "Stratocruiser", a double-decked prop-powered behemoth with sleeping berths. (Bond fails to wangle a berth, but he smokes up a storm to make up for it.) Then New York, a jaunt up to Saratoga Springs to bet on a fixed horserace, back to New York, then it's off to Vegas for blackjack (also fixed) and roulette. Then to "Spectreville", a ghost town in the Nevada desert. Then back to Britain, with Tiffany, on the RMS Queen Elizabeth. The sights along the way are lovingly described ("They flew over Barstow, the junction from which the single track of the Santa Fe strides off into the desert on its long run into the desert of the Colorado Plateau, skirting on their right the Calico Mountains, once the Borax centre of the world, and leaving far away to the left the bone-strewn wastes of Death Valley.") Also lovingly detailed: the food and drink consumed along the way. (E.g,, scrambled eggs, sausages, buttered rye toast, and Miller High Life at the "The Chicken in the Basket", a roadhouse on the way to Saratoga Springs.)

And yeah, there's eventually action and violence. Bond's survival becomes iffy at one point, but he's saved (spoiler!) by Tiffany.

Last Modified 2024-01-13 10:56 AM EDT