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on 1 February 2014
A change of direction for in Bond in his fourth outing as he takes on American organised crime in the shape of the Spangled Mob who are smuggling diamonds from Southern Africa via London to the United States which is having an impact on the markets.

This story involves gambling in casinos and race meetings Bond travels across the United States. Along the way Bond meets his friend Felix Leither by fate on the Street. Leither is no longer with the CIA following the injuries he received (In Bond's second adventure - Live and Let Die). He is now working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Leither updates Bond on the Spangled Mob and that he is working on corruption in horse racing.

There are some thrills in the Nevada dessert and on the liner crossing the Atlantic. In general this story is slow paced and the two brothers that head up the Spangled Mob lack the charisma of Bond villains. Their two heavies Wint and Kidd are good.

Bond's love interest Tiffany Case has a good part in this and her background and current activities are well described in another well written book by Ian Fleming.

However, in general this lacks something all round.
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on 28 April 2017
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on 2 December 2015
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on 16 June 2017
Not the best bond ever but they're all entertaining
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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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on 7 September 2017
James Bond is sent on an assignment to America to discover the Spangled Mob’s system of diamond smuggling that is bringing them millions of dollars. M is apprehensive in assigning Bond on this mission as he knows there is more to the American mob than meets the eye, but Bond accepts the assignment with no such reservations. However, he sees firsthand the length and breadth of their influence and power in America and he must put himself in the line of fire to dismantle this powerful machine that the Spang brothers have constructed.

This is a steady novel, with copious descriptions of locations and gambling, brief spouts of action and Bond’s internal monologue. This is not the best Bond novel so far and neither the worst, it is simply a novel that is read as part of the Bond canon rather than seeking it out for its literary achievements or entertainment value. It is different from the film version of the same name, but as I have realised, that isn’t out of the ordinary. Bond fans would probably not enjoy this story as much as others due to the fact that Bond lights a cigarette more times than there are action sequences.

An aspect that appears in Diamonds, but not to the extent of Live and Let Die, is Fleming’s use of derogatory and stereotypical language when describing non-English people. Though, I am reading it knowing this was typical of that period, it is still no less cringeworthy.

The villains, the Spangled Mob, were described as hardened criminals operating a brilliantly constructed system of diamond smuggling which stretched from the source in Africa, to America and England. However, with Fleming’s detailed descriptions of the villainous Spangs, the build up to their introduction suggests that they would be a great test for Bond, but they are shown to be feeble and are not given much time devoted to them. He defeats them fairly quickly and a strength in Casino Royale that was missing in this story was Fleming’s inclusion of Bond’s internal monologue, planning and decisions when faced with a difficult situation or a devious criminal. Instead, Fleming dodges the torture scene, perhaps knowing of the comparisons that would be made with Casino Royale, and Bond and Tiffany make their escape while everyone is sleeping which seems very anti-Bond for my linking.

Fleming provides a unique perspective as he elaborately describes locations whether it is New York, Saratoga or Las Vegas. It is interesting to read from a 1950’s perspective what an Englishman would think when he visits differing parts of America. He does it in a way which is not only extremely informative, but he also paints an immaculate picture of the exact scene that the reader is faced with. The copious descriptions of each part of America gives some verisimilitude to each of them, which is important to provide the reader with an accurate view of America. The depth of detail when describing the Saratoga Racecourse was immense and he achieved the feat of transporting the reader from England to America in his context, but also from 21st century to the 1950s.

Card playing is synonymous with Bond novels and films, and yet again it features greatly in Diamonds, but not only that, but the added bonus of horse race gambling. For some this could become quite tedious as Fleming endeavours to explain odds and percentages as well as Bond’s own thinking concerning whichever game he is playing. However, for some, it provides an exploration into a key facet of Bond’s character and when he is internally deciding on the best strategy to play the cards, we get a little closer to his character and learn a bit more about his decision-making.

Tiffany Case provides another chance for Bond to get close to an attractive woman who is involved with the case. However, unlike in the films and some of the books, Bond is shown to be more sensitive around Tiffany as Felix Leiter has filled him in on her troubled and hellish upbringing and background. And by the end he Bond is torturing himself as he has developed strong feelings for this woman, even contemplating leaving the Service for her. Their dinner aboard the Queen Elizabeth is a devilish game of cat and mouse between the pair as they ask each other personal questions, with Bond both dodging and answering awkward questions about love and what woman he’d like to be with. Tiffany shown she is very compatible with Bond, though Bond was always ready to defend his lonely stance rather than chancing it with her.

Though Diamonds isn’t the most action packed of the Bond novels I have read so far, he is shown to be more human than the others which may have added to the appeal rather than be seen as a spy with a licence to kill. I will still continue my goal of reading all of Fleming’s James Bond books that have been released in a special vintage collection.
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on 12 April 2015
And so my project to read all of the original series of James Bond novels in 2015 continues! Diamonds Are Forever is the fourth book by Ian Fleming and was initially published back in 1956. In the book Bond smashes a diamond smuggling operation, the pipeline of which originates in the mines of Sierra Leone and ends in Las Vegas. Along the way Bond meets and falls in love with one of the members of the criminal gang, Tiffany Case.

It was interesting to compare the plot of the book to the 1971 movie of the same name. In the novel there’s no Blofield clone or Blofield in drag, no moonbuggy and no exploding oil rig. Tiffany Case is portrayed as intelligent, strong and a survivor and is probably Fleming’s most fully fleshed out female character so far but in the movie she is portrayed as shallow, dumb eye candy.

Bond’s character is expanded further in Diamonds Are Forever and builds on the details revealed in the previous three novels. Bond actually falls in love with Case, the first time he has done so since Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. We also get to see his sensitive side too. After learning about Tiffany’s back story from Felix Leiter, Bond is surprisingly rather sensitive. He becomes protective and treats her sympathetically and delicately. Typically, he knocks women about a fair bit and is generally a misogynistic swine. He also steps in to defend an innocent woman (a manicurist) who is being verbally and physically abused: good for him!

As expected there is a degree of unacceptable language used, but thankfully nowhere near the excruciating level that was present in Live and Let Die. Jews, Italians, blacks and homosexuals are all mentioned in a very derogatory manner. Also, the villains were somewhat feeble: Jack and Serrafimo Spang were described as being the hardest of the criminal gang but are never given enough time to prove this. Perhaps it would have helped to have Bond’s torture scene portrayed as unlike Casino Royale the incident is skipped. I thought that it was a shame as it was one of the best parts of Casino Royale and gave the reader an insight into how Bond thinks and acts when he was under pressure and in significant distress.

The book also describes a lot of travel in a fair amount of detail; multiple locations are visited, for example New York City, Saratoga Springs, Las Vegas, etc. and while I’m sure this was of interest to readers in the 1950s who never set foot outside of the UK it meant that there was no real geographical anchor to the story. But it is interesting to hear Fleming’s observations and musings on the USA and the American way of life from a mid-fifties perspective.

Fleming’s action set pieces are full of tension and excitement and are what really makes the book. The ones earlier on, for example the mud bath scene are better than the ones later on, the train chase through the desert for instance. Unfortunately, yet again we get drawn out gambling scenes explained in excruciating levels of detail. I have to confess that this tends to bore me and in Diamonds Are Forever we have the added “thrill” of not only card playing but horse racing too.

So in summary, probably the weakest of the Bond novels so far with too much exposition about the mechanics of diamond smuggling and I felt that Bond succeeded in his mission primarily by luck and violence alone. Yes, it has the usual ethnic and racial faults plus we get far too much detail on the minutia of gambling (yet again) but it’s the first novel where Bond is actually nice to women. Criticisms aside it was still exciting, plus it contained enough action to keep me entertained. Like the name of the novel itself: this book is a gem albeit perhaps not the most sparking one.

I’m enjoying reading the Bond books, especially as I know the movies so well. James Bond will return!
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Format: Audio CD|Vine 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?

The Gold Standard!
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on 25 October 2012
Format: Audio CD|Vine 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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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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