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4.1 out of 5 stars114
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2007
When reading this book it is best to clear your head of any preconceptions over the plot that may come from the film of the same name. The plot of the book is far superior. It contains many of the things that one would expect of a Bond book (a beautiful woman, a spectacular chase sequence, sadistic bad guys) but is written in such a fashion as to make all of this seem plausible rather than conjuring up images of Austin Powers style campery. For a start the characterisation is brilliant the Bond here is distinctly human rather than some kind of superman, he gets beaten, bloodied and almost killed. In Tiffany Case Fleming also gives us a fully rounded person rather than the forgettable cyphers that featured in the many of the films. The bad guys are also well drawn in the form of the eccentric and thuggish Serrafimo brothers and hooded killers Kidd and Wint (a million miles away from their clownish portrayl in the film).

The book also showcases Flemings skill as a travel writer with a depiction of mafia dominated 1950's Vegas that conjures up the sound and smells of that bizarre town with all its gaudiness and the desperation of punters chasing the "easy" money. Through the middle strides Bond tough, but by no means immortal, constantly suprised by the ingenuity and cruelty of the mafia men he goes toe to toe with and even periodically afflicted by self doubt and agonising between love and the life of the secret agent.
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I first read this when I was in my teans and now I am in my mid-forties I thought it was time for a revisit. I'm a Bond fan, love the films and have read all the various books from Fleming through to Benson and I have to admit I was surprised how much I had forgotten about this book, my memories having been tarnished by the film and the more modern versions of Bond.
Initially I was astonished how old this book was (1956!) and this is more of a detective story with a Bond that is over confident and too casual at times who is at odds with the emerging American mob.
In many ways it does show its age, and this adds to the charm.
Well worth reading to remind oneself where and how it all started...
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Published in 1956, this is the fourth outing in print for Ian Fleming's spy James Bond. Here Bond is sent out to follow a diamond smuggling pipeline and to close it down. Inserted into the pipeline undercover, he has to deal with ruthless American Gangsters the Spangled mob, working his way through various scrapes with fixed horse races, hot mud baths and runaway steam locomotives before finally getting to the brains of the operation.

It is written with all of Fleming's verve and eye for detail. The opening paragraphs are adsorbing, and the big set pieces, especially the locomotive chase, are thrilling and breathtaking. These are the real strengths of the book. However, it does have a weakness in that the plot really isn't up to much, and the villains are less than impressive. Fleming tries to talk them up, but there is never really any feeling of threat or danger. And the plot does have a few holes in it. In all, these weaknesses are overcome by the strength of Fleming's writing. Even with unimpressive villains and a weak plot it is still an exciting read. Fleming had a real flair for adding in little descriptive touches that really build a vivid image in the mind's eye and transport the reader to the scene, I always find it adsorbing. On balance, 3 stars.
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VINE VOICEon 18 October 2012
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Well, I never thought that Bond in print could be quite this exciting. Brought up, as I was, on the film versions, I had always associated him with fast and impossible car chases, rather unbelievable villains with splendid cats and bad puns.

With a backdrop of this, Fleming's original text came as quite a surprise. Here was a thoughtful James Bond who felt chivalrous towards women and had a conscience and, what was more, the characters were as well fleshed as they would have been had they appeared in the cinema, even somewhat better.

Diamonds are Forever concerns the activities of a diamond smuggling ring and starts with a "pick up" from a desert which I found most atmospheric. We then move to London where Bond is given the job of infiltrating the criminal circles and discovering who is behind it all and ends up shipping the stones across "The Pond" as a carrier. As his elbow, is the lovely and psychologically damaged Tiffany Case.

Once in the States, the plot moves fast and we go from rigged races to killings and torture scenes. Eventually, of course, Bond wins through, uncovers the villains and all is well. Naturally, he gets the girl. Putting in an appearance in this book are those nasty killers, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd and they are every bit as wicked as in the films. Of course, being proper baddies, they end up dead.

The story is well portrayed by Damian Lewis and I can heartily recommend this audio book for that long car journey. You can even boo the bad boys as you go.
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Published in 1956, this is the fourth outing in print for Ian Fleming's spy James Bond. Here Bond is sent out to follow a diamond smuggling pipeline and to close it down. Inserted into the pipeline undercover, he has to deal with ruthless American Gangsters the Spangled mob, working his way through various scrapes with fixed horse races, hot mud baths and runaway steam locomotives before finally getting to the brains of the operation.

It is written with all of Fleming's verve and eye for detail. The opening paragraphs are adsorbing, and the big set pieces, especially the locomotive chase, are thrilling and breathtaking. These are the real strengths of the book. However, it does have a weakness in that the plot really isn't up to much, and the villains are less than impressive. Fleming tries to talk them up, but there is never really any feeling of threat or danger. And the plot does have a few holes in it. In all, these weaknesses are overcome by the strength of Fleming's writing. Even with unimpressive villains and a weak plot it is still an exciting read. Fleming had a real flair for adding in little descriptive touches that really build a vivid image in the mind's eye and transport the reader to the scene, I always find it adsorbing. On balance, 3 stars.
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on 25 October 2012
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have to admit, living as I do in a TV-less world, I had wondered what all the fuss about actor Damian Lewis was about. This audio book goes some way to explaining why he is so highly rated. His reading is pitch perfect and his ability to render the different accents of the characters is remarkable. He even makes a pretty convincing woman when he voices Tiffany Case.

The story isn't perhaps one of the most thrilling in terms of big dramatic set pieces, but this suits the audio-only medium well, and allows the listener to focus on Fleming's prose, which is as no means as bad and formulaic as some people make out. The opening description of the scorpion is very well drawn and evocative, for example - but I could see that it might be irritating for people wanting to dive straight into the action. One word of caution about the language - it very much reflects usage of the time, and there is quite casual use of words that some people may find offensive.

And engaging and absorbing listen.

(One small flaw re: the cover - and it isn't Damian Lewis's ill advised moustache. The cover doesn't list running times or chapter headings, so it can be quite difficult to find one's place.)
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on 17 June 2014
Having worked my way through more than half of the Bond novels, you start to appreciate the Fleming could be an unpredictable writer and the interest for me often lies in the way these novels differ from the films. As a rule, the shorter novels illustrate Fleming at his most creative whereas it seems in the longer books that sometimes he is tired of his creation so that a book like "Dr. No" may include elements of hokum at the end or at least allow the tension to dissipate as the novels build to a climax. Whilst I would suggest that "FRWL" and "OHMSS" are probably the best of these longer books, "Diamonds are forever" is not far behind.

Part of the success of this novel stems from Fleming reining in his excesses and this book is better for Bond being up against American organised crime so that the more incredible elements that can spoil some of Fleming's writing are absent. I would also have to add that the fact that the last third of this novel is effectively a chase sequence does add to the excitement, especially as the heroine is not quite so two dimensional as in other 007 outings. In fact, Tiffany Case is probably one of his best crafted female characters. I'm not convinced by Victor's review that the villains lack menace and it is more a case that Fleming shelved the more absurd elements for a more credible picture of how well ingrained organised crime was in to many aspects of American society. The novel is assisted by the return of Felix Leiter whose life-threatening injuries incurred in "Live in let die" manifest themselves in him being far more gung-ho and reckless.

The whole escapade is bookended by incidents in Africa and I felt this juxtaposed itself nicely insofar that the setting of the sun on the British Empire is contrasted by the more cynical world of gambling, extortion, race fixing and murder that was the rotten under-belly of American life. Granted that there are a couple of pages of wholly unacceptable racism during the course of one particular menacing incident that should have been edited out without the story losing anything, this is otherwise one of the very best of the 007 adventures. I can recall trying to read this book for the first time when I was about 13 and being disappointed that is was nothing like the film. Returning to it over thirty years later it is clear that film was not a patch on Fleming's original vision.
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VINE VOICEon 10 August 2013
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The plot of "Diamonds Are Forever" is not the best one Ian Fleming ever wrote, which probably explains why the producers of the Bond movies waited for so long before turning it into a film - and even then discarded much of the story. There are some character names in common between the two versions, such as Tiffany Case, Shady Tree, Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, but don't expect to encounter Blofeld or his laser satellite here. Instead we have dual villains, the American gangster brothers Jack and Seraffimo Spang.

Examining the book when one is more familiar with the film (or vice versa), there are several scenes and settings that the two fleetingly and surprisingly share, such as the scorpion at the very start of the novel, the diamond-smuggling dentist in Africa, a deadly mud bath, the casinos of Las Vegas, Tiffany's underwear-clad introduction, and the trip she and Bond take aboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. However, Fleming explores many very different locations, including Saratoga Race Course, an old Western ghost town named Spectreville (nothing to do with Blofeld's SPECTRE, by the way), and Sierra Leone.

Ironically, all this globetrotting, which actually has a lot in common with the style of the movie series that would follow, is the book's undoing. It feels more like a series of episodic events than a well-defined plot. As a result, it does go on a bit. The train track sequence seems as though it could be the climax of the narrative, but it isn't. So does the subsequent ocean liner bit (which was in fact appended by the author, after he had finished the rest of the manuscript), but that's not the end either.

In the author's favour, Tiffany Case is a strong heroine (described by Raymond Benson as "Fleming's first fully developed female character") and Bond shows genuine compassion for her. Those additional Queen Elizabeth chapters certainly help in the development of this romance, which reads almost like an apology for the rape fantasy of "Casino Royale". Tiffany has been hardened like a diamond, having been gang-raped as a teenager. She has developed an antipathy towards all men, and initially keeps her distance from Bond.

In the audio book's favour, it is performed by Damian Lewis, who, as we know from "Band Of Brothers" and "Homeland", is good at accents, in particular American ones. This proves extremely handy, as there is a diverse array of American characters in this story, including Bond's faithful friend Felix Leiter, Tiffany Case and various eccentric mobsters. If I were just reviewing the novel, I would give it a 3, but I'm adding an extra mark for Lewis's reading, which really makes this work sparkle.
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Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This review is specific to the unabridged audio reading of Diamonds are Forever by Damian Lewis. It may contain some plot spoilers.

Published in 1956, this is the fourth outing in print for Ian Fleming's spy James Bond. Here Bond is sent out to follow a diamond smuggling pipeline and to close it down. Inserted into the pipeline undercover, he has to deal with ruthless American Gangsters the Spangled mob, working his way through various scrapes with fixed horse races, hot mud baths and runaway steam locomotives before finally getting to the brains of the operation.

It is written with all of Fleming's verve and eye for detail. The opening paragraphs are adsorbing, and the big set pieces, especially the locomotive chase, are thrilling and breathtaking. These are the real strengths of the book. However, it does have a weakness in that the plot really isn't up to much, and the villains are less than impressive. Fleming tries to talk them up, but there is never really any feeling of threat or danger. And the plot does have a few holes in it. In all, these weaknesses are overcome by the strength of Fleming's writing. Even with unimpressive villains and a weak plot it is still an exciting read. Fleming had a real flair for adding in little descriptive touches that really build a vivid image in the mind's eye and transport the reader to the scene, I always find it adsorbing.

This unabridged reading from Damian Lewis is excellent. Produced by Lucy Fleming, Ian's niece, it has clearly been made with much reverence for the book and the character of Bond. Lewis at times sounds a little like David Attenborough (especially in the opening sequence with the scorpion), and has a clear style and a sense of drama that really plays up the strengths of the book, and glosses a little over the weaknesses. It's an enthralling listen. It's about 6 hours long on 6 CDs, collected into a spindle case. I have a few of these audio reading in this range, and they look quite handsome all lined up on the shelf. My only gripe with the series is that the two collections of short stories, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, have not been included in the series. There is a short interview with Lewis at the end of the sixth disc regarding his thoughts on the book and its themes. All in all a 5 star production of a 3 star book, so I think 4 stars is a fair total.
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Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A deadly combination.

Damian Lewis the hot new Brit acting in an American, Top, Barak Obama approved sitcom.
see the Emmy Awards

A Bond Novel and a really well know one at that-
See the Testosterone

Shirly Bassy all a quiver hitting the right notes. See the Viagra

Ok I lied about the last but you get my drift this is a powereful combo and a winner!

Is it any good?
A resounding YES!

Let me explain dear reader why?

Originally published in 1956 this was Fleming's forth Bond Novel. The world of today was whole different country to that of today.
We played on the sites of bombed houses and shops.
My big playground was a bombed and cleared school- large area and flat.
The world was grey and tired World War 2 had just ended and the baby boom was in full flow money was tight the new, war free, world of abroad was something for the Cigarette adverts we saw at the cinema or on the 9 inch square Redifussion Black and white set- the world was monochrome and people read.

Now these Bond novels were a brilliant form of escapism for any red blooded male that liked his men strong, their women weak and on hand. The descriptions of Bonds world of air travel and foreign lands were a million miles away and Fleming knew this and wrote great books.. for their times.
The reader of today is a whole lot more savvy to to the Costas and Uncle Sam's US of A. so are the books still enjoyable?

I would say a resounding YES.

This is a good novel and very well read by Damian Lewis.
Make no mistakes Lewis can do voices and there are 100s in this book.
He has great pace, good humour and reads the books really well.
There I've repeated my adjective.
We all know that Lewis is good from his Band of Brothers and Homeland prerformances but he is equally great as the narrator for this entertaining book.
This is my 4th in the series and I really am enjoying the whole experience.
The added twist is that each book is read by a different actor at the top of the tree from recent `actorial performances and appearances' and the listener is totally spoiled/

I don't need to go into the plot nor spoil it other reviewers have and will no doubt do that a whole lot better and there are only so many descritions of the plot that you want to read anyway?

Recommended.
The Gold Standard!
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