Diamonds Are Truly Forever
The danger of a farcical tale is that the humor is so finely balanced. In this Get Smart meets Liar, Liar style spy story, the humor often fell flat for me, but I did find the characters sympathetic enough that the novel was at least readable, if not lovable.
Staci Fields has one thing in common with George Washington; She can not tell a lie. The problem is, her husband lies for a living. Considering herself a complete liability as a result of this foible she does the sacrificial thing and files for a divorce.
Drew Fields is an agent for the National Clandestine Service, a secret branch of the CIA. He has just received the worst assignment of his life – reunite with the almost ex and spy on his step-father in law Sam. NCS is confident that Sam has been sending secrets to RIOT and that SMASH, RIOT’S assassin arm, is about to kill the two women in his life. Since those two women are his nearly ex-wife Staci and her mom Linda, Drew is more than motivated to clear up the problem. He never wanted the divorce anyway. He heads home to see Staci once more and work on a reconciliation.
One could say their reunion is explosive. While Drew wheedles a home made chocolate chip cookie out of Staci, a sniper shoots at them through the kitchen window. They are both lucky to be alive. Drew immediately insists that Staci move into his new condo with him for her own safety. The chemistry between them is still so strong that even though Staci is supposed to be staying in the guest room, things quickly turn heated. Things take a turn for the bizarre when Staci tries to tell her mom she is reunited with Drew and instead finds herself having to agree to spy on her step-dad, whom Linda is convinced is cheating on her. Linda has already gotten Staci a job as receptionist for the company Sam works for, putting Staci in the perfect secret operative position. This would be good news for Drew if he didn’t have reason to think that Sam is a killer – and that he won’t have any compunction about killing his step-daughter if she gets in the way. The spy games have begun!
The humor here is a form of slapstick that really only works in movies or TV. There is a scene where Staci impersonates a plant lady by copying the woman’s green eye shadow and red lipstick. The problem? Staci is slender, the plant lady pudgy. Staci tall, the plant lady several inches shorter. Staci is wearing a skirt, the plant lady khaki pants. But since menials are invisible, we are to believe this worked. In spite of the fact that people noticed the difference enough to comment on Staci’s great legs. I’m sure this would have been hilarious if it had been Maxwell Smart with a mustache and trench coat pretending to water plants but reading about this scene was almost painful. The author also resorts to juvenile moments like naming a bad guy Carlos Meano (yep, attach an O to any word and that makes it Spanish) and another villain “The Bevil”. I’m sure I was meant to laugh uproariously when Staci went screaming “It’s the Bevil!” but I couldn’t even raise a giggle.
In spite of the silliness, Staci had enough humanity in her to make her sympathetic. While her inability to lie is rather corny, the idea that a flaw can separate us from a beloved is not. There are several moments in the book when you can feel both her desire to be with Drew and her inability to forgive herself her failures that she feels make her a bad wife. You can also feel her pain at the divorce. She genuinely wanted to make her marriage work and it hurts her that it didn’t.
Also sympathetic (if somewhat kooky) is Linda, her mom. Linda is on her second marriage and feeling extremely insecure. She is middle-aged and has started to notice how invisible she has become to men. Her husband’s suspicious behaviors lead her to think “affair,” but she clutches at any straw that gives her hope that is not what is happening. The author gave me just enough of a feel for her hurts and insecurities that I sympathized with her too.
The other characters are a bit cardboard. Drew is a super spy with cool gadgets and an ability to do everything, and is also gorgeous. The villains are funny in the way of KAOS but they have no depth. The novel paints in characters only to add to the humor but since that often falls flat the characters do as well.
It’s hard to know what to do with a novel like this. The author had some good things going – her writing style is pleasant and she showed some talent in creating Staci and Linda – but the plotting was horrible and most of the humor failed to draw even a smile. The book was certainly readable and mildly enjoyable but to recommend it? Only if you are absolutely craving some sort of Get Smart fix. And even then I would try and just watch the re-runs or the film with Steve Carell.