Author: Ian Fleming
First Published: 1956
Page Count: 215
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Note: Book 4 of the James Bond series
Another gritty spy novel that follows the exploits of the suave James Bond.
*Action/ storyline befitting of a Bond novel
Death is forever. But so are diamonds. Secret agent James Bond has a new mission that is taking him into the dangerous world of gangsters in America. Millions of dollars in diamonds have been secreted out of Europe and Bond must discover who is running the operation and put an end to it. This adventure will take him into the underworld of horse racing in New York and high stakes gambling in Las Vegas. He soon learns American gangsters are no pushovers and he has to watch his step, even as he falls for one of their diamond movers, the seductive Tiffany Case.
Every James Bond book by Ian Fleming, at least in my experience with the first three novels, consistently delivers a satisfying spy story that captures the James Bond brand. The settings are exotic, Bond is suave but deadly, there is a beautiful but mysterious woman to seduce, and the villains always have a bit of a dramatic flair. This book delivers on that promise, which is why I gave it the three stars. I love being able to completely escape into the familiar world Fleming has created every time I open one of these books.
This book was not my favorite simply because I’m not a fan of Westerns, gangster stories, or horse racing and that was the center of the story. It’s a perfectly good plot but this was just a matter of taste. The villain has an obsession with Western lore, Bond is taking on American gangsters, and the first half of the story takes place during a horse race. For me, these elements made the book less glamorous and flashy than Bond’s usual destinations and story-lines. Luckily, the other draw of the story is the fact that it centers around diamonds, and who doesn’t like diamonds?
There’s nothing terribly wrong with the story and if you love James Bond, you should check out the book. Fleming’s books hardly ever top 250 pages so you could power through this series if you wanted to. It’s great that there are so many Bond adventures to choose from, but of course not every one is going to resonate with you. This just happened to be that book for me. Live and Let Die is still my favorite!
*Film Adaptation: (Starring Sean Connery 1971)