After two books that focus a lot more on the kinds of speechifying megalomaniacs that the James Bond movies eventually turned into a cliché, Ian Fleming brings the fourth book, Diamonds Are Forever, back to a somewhat more down-to-earth feel of Casino Royale.
The story takes Bond into the U.S. to track down a gangland diamond smuggling operation. This leads to a series of adventures more than a driving story. They are exciting and tense stories that propel the book along at an exciting pace, and that's more than enough.
Fleming flounders again, for me, with the romance element, although not for lack of effort this time. In fact, it feels like he throws all of his tricks at trying to make the match of Bond and Tiffany Case more than a plot device and to carry some greater meaning. It falls short for me by some distance.
It feels like Fleming himself realized that and brought the book back to a full circle with the evocative opening sequence.
Next up: From Russia, With Love.