Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

Diamonds Are Forever - book cover

‘Mister. Nothing is forever. Only death is permanent.’

Read a Short Extract


Tiffany Case

Bond walked into the small living-room and closed the door behind him.
    'Lock it,' said the voice.  It came from the bedroom.
    Bond did as he was told and walked across the middle of the room until he was opposite the open bedroom door.  As he passed the portable long-player on the writing desk the pianist began on La Ronde.
    She was sitting, half naked, astride a chair in front of the dressing-table, gazing across the back of the chair into a triple mirror.  Her bare arms were folded along the tall back of the chair and her chin was resting on her arms.  Her spine was arched, and there was arrogance in the set of her head and shoulders.  The black string of her brassiere across the naked back, the tight black lace pants and the splay of her legs whipped at Bond's senses.
    The girl raised her eyes from looking at her face and inspected him in the mirror, briefly and coolly.
    'I guess you're the new help,' she said in a low, rather husky voice that made no commitment.  'Take a seat and enjoy the music.  Best light record ever made.'
    Bond was amused.  He obediently took the few steps to a deep armchair, moved it a little so that he could still see her through the doorway, and sat down.
    'Do you mind if I smoke?' he said, taking out his case and putting a cigarette in his mouth.
    'If that's the way you want to die.'
    Miss Case resumed the silent contemplation of her face in the mirror while the pianist played J'attendrai.  Then it was the end of the record.
    Indifferently she flexed her hips back off the chair and stood up.  She half turned her head and the blonde hair that fell heavily to the base of her neck curved with the movement and caught the light.
    'If you like it, turn it over,' she said carelessly.  'Be with you in a moment.'  She moved out of sight.

It’s a gamble

Bond sat at the bar of The Tiara and sipped a Vodka Martini and examined the great gambling room with a professional eye.
    The first thing he noticed was that Las Vegas seemed to have invented a new school of functional architecture, ‘The Gilded Mousetrap School’ he thought it might be called, whose main purpose was to channel the customer-mouse into the central gambling trap whether he wanted the cheese or not.
Bond turned his back to the scene and sipped at his Martini, listening with half his mind to the music from the famous-name band at the end of the room next to the half-dozen shops.  Over one of the shops there was a pale blue neon sign which said 'The House of Diamonds'.  Bond beckoned to the barman.  'Mr Spang been around tonight?'
    'Ain't seen him,' said the barman.  'Mostly comes in after the first show.  Around eleven.  You know him?'
    'Not personally.'
    Bond paid his check and drifted over to the blackjack tables.  He stopped at the centre one.  This one would be his.  At exactly five minutes past ten.  He glanced at his watch.  Eight-thirty.
    The table was a small, flat kidney of green baize.  Eight players sat on high stools facing the dealer, who stood with his stomach against the edge of the table and dealt two cards into the eight numbered spaces on the cloth in front of the stakes.  The stakes were mostly five or ten silver dollars, or counters worth twenty.  The dealer was a man of about forty.  He had a pleasant half-smile on his face.  He wore the dealer's uniform - white shirt buttoned at the wrists, a thin black Western gambler's tie, a green eyeshade, black trousers.  The front of the trousers was protected from rubbing against the table by a small green baize apron.  'Jake' was embroidered in one corner.
    The dealer dealt and handled the stakes with unruffled smoothness.  There was no talk at the table except when a player ordered a 'courtesy' drink or cigarettes from one of the waitresses in black silk pyjamas who circulated in the central space inside the ring of tables.  From this central space, the run of the play was watched over by two tough lynx-eyed pit-bosses with guns at their waists.
    The game was quick and efficient and dull.  It was as dull and mechanical as the slot machines.  Bond watched for a while and then moved away towards the doors marked 'Smoking Room' and 'Powder Room' on the far side of the Casino.  On his way he passed four 'Sheriffs' in smart grey Western uniform.  The legs of their trousers were tucked into half-wellingtons.  These men were standing about unobtrusively, looking at nothing but seeing every thing.  At each hip they carried a gun in an open holster and the polished brass of fifty cartridges shone at their belts.
    Plenty of protection around, thought Bond, as he pushed his way through the swing door of the 'Smoking Room'.  Inside, on the tiled wall, was a notice which said, 'Stand Up Closer.  It's Shorter than you Think.'  Western humour!  Bond wondered if he dared include it in his next written report to M.  He decided it would not appeal.  He went out and walked back through the tables to the door beneath a neon sign which said, 'The Opal Room.'
    The low circular restaurant in pink and white and grey was half full.  The 'Hostess' swept over and piloted him to a corner table.  She bent over to arrange the flowers in the middle of the table and to show him that her fine bosom was at least half real, gave him a gracious smile and went away.  After ten minutes, a waitress with a tray appeared and put a roll on his plate and a square of butter.  She also set down a dish containing olives and some celery lined with orange cheese.  Then a second and older waitress bustled over and gave him the menu and said 'Be right with you.'  
    Twenty minutes after he had sat down, Bond was able to order a dozen cherrystone clams and a steak, and, since he expected a further long pause, a second Vodka dry Martini.  'The wine waiter will be right over,' said the waitress primly and disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.
    'Long on courtesy and short on service,' reflected Bond, and resigned himself to the gracious ritual.
    During the excellent dinner that finally materialized, Bond wondered about the evening ahead and about how he could force the pace of his assignment.  He was thoroughly bored with his role as a probationary crook who was about to be paid off for his first trial job and might then, if he found favour in the eyes of Mr Spang, be given regular work with the rest of the teenage adults who made up the gang.  It irked him not to have the initiative - to be ordered to Saratoga and then to this hideous sucker-trap at the say-so of a handful of big-time hoodlums.  Here he was, eating their dinner and sleeping in their bed, while they watched him, James Bond, and weighed him up and debated whether his hand was steady enough, his appearance trustworthy enough and his health adequate to some sleazy job in one of their rackets.
    Bond munched his steak as if it was Mr Seraffimo Spang's fingers and cursed the day he had taken on this idiotic role.  But then he paused and went on eating more calmly.  What the hell was he worrying about?  This was a big assignment which so far had gone well.  And now he had penetrated right to the end of the pipeline, right into the parlour of Mr Seraffimo Spang who, with his brother in London, and with the mysterious ABC, ran the biggest smuggling operation in the world.  What did Bond's feelings matter?  It was only a moment of self disgust, a touch of nausea brought on by being a stranger who had spent too many days too close to these sordidly powerful American gangs, too close to the gunpowder-scented 'gracious life' of gangland aristocracy.
    The truth of the matter, Bond decided over coffee, was that he felt homesick for his real identity.  He shrugged his shoulders.  To hell with the Spangs and the hood-ridden town of Las Vegas.  He looked at his watch.  It was just ten o'clock.  He lit a cigarette and got to his feet and walked slowly across the room and out into the Casino.
    There were two ways of playing the rest of the game, by lying low and waiting for something to happen - or by forcing the pace so that something had to happen.

Extract from Diamonds Are Forever reproduced with permission from Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

Copyright © Gildrose Productions Ltd, 1956