Summary from the MJF Books edition:
Somehow, African diamonds are being smuggled into the United States via London. The British Secret Service sends Bond to infiltrate the smugglers' organization and if possible, destroy it. Bond journeys through New York City's diamond market, the race tracks and mud baths at Saratoga Springs, and the gambling places of Las Vegas, to finally penetrate the very heart of the Mob. Along the way he meets the beautiful Tiffany Case, and is assisted by his American friend Felix Leiter. From the deserts of Afrca to the deserts of Nevada, follow Bond into the scorpion's nest.So, another book set primarily in the US. I like the settings in Diamonds Are Forever, but it is surprising to have American gangsters as the villains. And they don't make much of an impression.
In this book, it seemed like Bond was making poor decisions. His goal is to find a way to continue to be used as a courier for stolen diamonds, to work undercover to identify the forces behind the diamond smuggling. Instead he seems to go out of his way to antagonize the gangsters. He doesn't like working undercover, so he just ignores instructions. The decision to help Felix Leiter seemed irresponsible to me. Sure, they are friends and Felix has left the CIA due to injuries in a previous story, but still it is unprofessional to risk an important mission to do a favor for a friend. At least this does show his human, fallible side (which doesn't show up much in the movies). I did enjoy the parts of the story set at the racetrack. And Felix has a Studillac, which is a Studebaker equipped with a Cadillac engine. So that part of the story has its good points.
The best part of this novel is Tiffany Case. For the most part, she can hold her own with Bond. Bond's behavior toward her is sexist and condescending, but he does appreciate her abilities and grows fond of her. This is one way that the books differ from the movies. In the movies, Bond may be intrigued by the main Bond girl but he is not committed to her. In the books, at least so far as I have read, he grows very fond of and sometimes wants to commit to a relationship with the woman he has been adventuring with. The reader may eventually figure out that this will really never happen, but Bond is serious about it at the time. In Tiffany's case, even though they work well together, he finally realizes that they want different things in life.
All in all, this is not my favorite book in the series so far. It just seemed too complex and meandering. But it was still a lot of fun and a fast read. You just have to stifle any irritation with the views of the time towards women, ethnic groups, anyone who is different.
The Adaptation Starring Sean Connery
I was excited to finally be reading a book where James Bond would be played by Sean Connery, but this was the last official Bond movie that featured Connery and doesn't compare well to the others that he starred in. This may be due to a switch to a very camp approach to the story, which continues in the Roger Moore films. Connery seemed much older to me here, but he was only 41 in 1971 when the movie came out.
However, I have found all the Bond films I have watched so far to be entertaining, and Sean Connery will always be my favorite. All I am saying is that this one was not in the same league as From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.
at Vintage Pop Fictions; at Clothes in Books; and At the Scene of the Crime.
Also interesting are these posts on Diamonds Are Forever and Saratoga Springs:
at Literary 007 and Fleming's Bond.
Publisher: MJF Books, 1993 (orig. pub. 1956)
Length: 217 pages
Series: James Bond, #4
Setting: Africa, US
Genre: Spy thriller
Source: I purchased this book.