Ian Fleming – Diamonds Are Forever

After a pause of a few months I have returned to the world of Ian Fleming‘s James Bond with the fourth novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956). In my reviews a recurring elements has been the comparison with the movie adaptation. The movie only takes some characters and the main location from the book. Of course diamonds play a role, but this is less prominent than the movie. From these few statements one can already conclude the novel will provide plenty of new story to discover. Even as this is the case, it is not as much story as one could have hoped for and perhaps would have expected when having read the previous novels.

The overall pace of Diamonds Are Forever can be considered somewhat slow except for a few events. Fleming takes his time to tell his story and goes into a lot of detail. I don’t mind detail as it can provide a way to picture scenes and settings more strongly for the reader. This style of Fleming worked quite well in the previous novels, but in Diamonds Are Forever it is too much as he uses it on every possible occasion which simply slows the pace and fills just pages without much really happening. One could argue that plenty happens but for me it was not really significant and lacking some nice confrontations to spicy the scenes.

The James Bond that is depicted is much more vulnerable and personal and lacks the sharpness and power I got to appreciate before. I thought it somewhat resembled the way Timothy Dalton portrayed Bond in the two movies he made in the series. In a way it is nice to discover more personal details and about the character of James Bond; things that have been left out of the movies, but it does damage his image somewhat.

Even as the first two Bond novels were far from perfect they still had an engaging plot and tense confrontations. Diamonds Are Forever lacks both. It feels as a more regular mission even if it is presented as especially dangerous. Thus I consider it the weakest of the four novels I’ve read now. This is a bit of a disappointment as the third book, Moonraker, showed everything one expects from a James Bond story and I assumed Fleming would stick to this ‘winning’ style. Perhaps it explains why few elements from the novel in the movie adaptation.

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