Diamonds Are Forever (1956)

Author: Ian Fleming
Published: 26th March 1956
MI6 Rating:

Data Stream
Villains: Jack Spang, Serrafimo Spang
Plot: Running a diamond smuggling pipeline between Africa and the USA.
Bond Girls: Tiffany Case
Allies: Felix Leiter, Ernest Cureo
Locations: French Guinea; London; New York; Saratoga; Las Vegas; Spectreville; Los Angeles
Highlights: Bond meeting Leiter again; mud bath scene

Capsule Synopsis
Bond’s assignment is to infiltrate a diamond smuggling operation, which is running from Africa to America, and identify the gangsters behind it. Once there, he discovers the American gangs are more efficient and ruthless than he had expected.
Above: 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK)

Official Blurb (Penguin 2002 Edition)
Meet Tiffany Case, a cold, gorgeous, devil-may-care blonde; the kind of girl you could get into a lot of trouble with – if you wanted. She stands between James Bond and the leaders of a diamond-smuggling ring that stretches from Africa via London to the States. Bond uses her to infiltrate this gang, but once in America the hunter becomes the hunted. Bond is in real danger until help comes from an unlikely quarter, the ice-maiden herself...

Official Blurb (Pan 1958 Edition)
James Bond surveyed the glittering diamonds that lay scattered across the leather surface of M's desk and wondered what it was all about.
The quiet grey eyes were watching him thoughtfully.
The M took the pipe out of his mouth and drily gave Bond the details of his assignment of which M was afraid.
And Bond walked out of the Headquarters of the Secret Service and into his greatest adventure.

Chapter Listing

  1. The Pipeline Opens
  2. Gem Quality
  3. Hot Ice
  4. 'What Goes On Around Here?'
  5. 'Feuilles Mortes'
  6. In Transit
  7. 'Shady' Tree
  8. The Eye That Never Sleeps
  9. Bitter Champagne
  10. Studillac to Saratoga
  11. Shy Smile
  12. The Perpetuities
  13. Acme Mud and Sulphur
  14. 'We Don't Like Mistakes'
  15. Rue de la Pay
  16. The Tiara
  17. Thanks for the Ride
  18. Night Falls in the Passion Pit
  19. Spectreville
  20. Flames Coming Out of the Top
  21. `Nothing Propinks Like Propinquity'
  22. Love and Sauce Béarnaise
  23. The Job Comes Second
  24. Death Is So Permanent
  25. The Pipeline Closes
Above: British Pan paperback 1st-3rd editions (1958 onwards)

‘Listen, Bond,’ said Tiffany Case. ‘It’d take more than Crabmeat Ravigotte to get me into bed with a man. In any event, since it’s your check, I’m going to have caviar, and what the English call “cutlets”, and some pink champagne. I don’t often date a good-looking Englishman and the dinner’s going to live up to the occasion.’

Above: British Pan paperback 4th-6th editions (1961 onwards); American Permabooks paperback 1st edition (1957); British Pan paperback 23rd edition (1970)

After an opening scene involving the killing of a scorpion, Diamonds Are Forever gets going with Bond being called to halt smuggling of diamonds out of Africa. The main link is a diamond shop in London owned by Rufus B Saye, who is believed to be the end of the pipeline. Bond then takes the place of captured courier Peter Franks at his assigned meeting with Tiffany Case. Bond must smuggle $50,000 of diamonds to ‘Shady’ Tree in NY. She then reports to the mysterious ‘ABC’ to expect Bond as the courier.

Bond delivers the diamonds, and is told to bet on a fixed race. However, Bond helps Felix Leiter, who is now missing part of an arm and a leg and working against American race-fixing syndicates, to alter the result of the race. Bond sees the jockey punished when his face is covered in boiling mud from a mud-bath. Bond does pick up his payment of $5,000 at a fixed table of blackjack (Tiffany is the croupier) but he then disobeys his orders by gambling it up to $20,000.

Serrafimo Spang, the head of the ‘Spangled Mob’ of American gangsters captures Bond and plans to make him pay the penalty for his greed. Spang’s brother, Jack, is believed to be the elusive ‘ABC’. However Bond escapes with the help of Tiffany from Spectreville, Spang’s mock Wild West town. They just manage to escape back to the Queen Elizabeth, but Spang’s homosexual henchmen, Wint and Kidd, are ordered to kill Bond and Tiffany on the ship. But Bond just manages to outwit the villainous pair.

Back at London, it is discovered that Jack Spang is RBSaye (hence the cryptic codename). However, Spang is returning to the Sierra Leone site of the prologue to shut down the smuggling ring. Bond arrives in the nick of time to help destroy Spang’s helicopter.


Tiffany: "Got a wooden leg? False teeth?" "No. Everything's real." She frowned. "I keep telling them to find me a man with a wooden leg."

Cureo: "If I were you, I'd think a long time before joining our little group. Don't go and get in wrong with the mob. If you're planning anything cosy you'd better start taking harp lessons."

Tiffany: "That guy's so loaded, he don't wear glasses when he drives. Has the windshields of his Cadillac's ground to his prescription."

Bond: "Most marriages don't add two people together. They subtract one from the other."

Tiffany: "But it depends what you want it to add up to. Something human or something inhuman. You can't be complete by yourself."

Above: British Pan paperback 12th-22nd editions (1963 onwards)

Above: British Coronet paperback 1st edition (1988); British Penguin paperback edition (2002 onwards); American Penguin paperback edition (2002 onwards)


'James Bond is one of the most cunningly synthesized heroes in crime-fiction. He combines the tough-tender glamour of the sado-masochistic, Casanovesque private eye with the connoisseurship of a member - perhaps a rather new one -of White's, laces this already heady mixture with a shot of Buchanish Imperialist spirit, and adds a tiny pinch of ground Ashenden . . . Mr Fleming's method is worth noting, and recommending.'
- Observer

The remarkable thing about this book is that it is written by an Englishman. The scene is almost entirely American and it rings true to an American. I am unaware of any other writer who has accomplished this
- Raymond Chandler

'Mr Fleming has unusual virtues: a fine eye for places - in this book there are admirable accounts of Saratoga and Las Vegas - an ability to convey his own interest in the mechanics of gambling, and an air of knowledgeableness that many writers in this genre lack.'
- Time Literary Supplement

'Once again Ian fleming has brought it off -giving us, in Diamonds are Forever, probably the best thriller of the season . . . Mr Fleming's writing is admirable; but his greatest gift is the ability, before his fantastic adventures begin, to paint convincingly a background against which they do not seem fantastic.'
- Birmingham Post

Above: British Pan paperback 27th-29th edition (1974 onwards)

Publication Timeline

1956 March 26 - 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) released - cover artwork by Pat Marriott
October - 1st edition Macmillan hardback (USA)
1957 September - 1st edition Permabooks paperback (USA)
1st edition Gallimard hardback (France)
4th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover artwork by Pat Marriott
1958 August 5 - 1st edition Pan paperback (UK)
2nd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1st edition Thriller Book Club hardback (UK)
1960 3rd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1961 1st edition Signet paperback (USA)
4th edition Pan paperback (UK)
5th edition Pan paperback (UK)
6th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1962 7th edition Pan paperback (UK)
8th edition Pan paperback (UK)
9th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1963 February - 6th edition Signet paperback (USA)
1st edition Grafisk Forlag paperback (Denmark)
7th edition Signet paperback (USA)
8th edition Signet paperback (USA)
10th edition Pan paperback (UK)
11th edition Pan paperback (UK)
12th edition Pan paperback (UK)
13th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1964 13th edition Signet paperback (USA)
14th edition Signet paperback (USA)
15th edition Signet paperback (USA)
16th edition Signet paperback (USA)
17th edition Signet paperback (USA)
14th edition Pan paperback (UK)
15th edition Pan paperback (UK)
16th edition Pan paperback (UK)
17th edition Pan paperback (UK)
18th edition Pan paperback (UK)

1st edition Gallimard paperback (France)
1st edition Ullstein paperback (Germany)
1st edition Editôra Civilização Brasileira paperback (Brazil)
2nd edition Editôra Civilização Brasileira paperback (Brazil)
2nd edition Grafisk Forlag paperback (Denmark)
19th edition Pan paperback (UK)
20th edition Pan paperback (UK)
21st edition Pan paperback (UK)

1966 1st edition Albert Bonnierhardback hardback (Sweden)
22nd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1967 4th edition Grafisk Forlag paperback (Denmark)
1970 22rd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1971 1st edition Bantam paperback (USA)
24th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1972 25th edition Pan paperback (UK)
26th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1974 27th edition Pan paperback (UK)
28th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1976 29th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1977 September - 1st edition Bull's Eye/Stanley Thomas childrens paperback
1st edition Triad/Panther paperback (UK)
1979 8th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover artwork by Pat Marriott
1980 1st edition Jove paperback (USA)
1982 1st edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1983 September - 4th edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1984 May - 5th edition Berkley paperback (USA)
October - 6th edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1st edition Zwarte Beertjes (The Netherlands)
1985 7th edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1986 9th edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1988 1st edition Coronet paperback (UK)
1st edition Coronet/General Paperbacks paperback (Canada)
1992 1st edition Scherz paperback (Germany)
1993 2nd edition Scherz paperback (Germany)
1995 1st edition MJF/Fine Communications hardback (USA)
1st edition The First Edition Library hardback (USA)

April 4 - 1st edition Viking/Penguin hardback (UK) - Photography by Toby Mcfarlan Pond
April 4 - 1st edition Penguin paperback (UK) - Photography by Toby Mcfarlan Pond
December 17 - 1st edition Penguin paperback (USA)