Synopsis: Matt spent the entire last novel, The Revengers, keeping Eleanor Brand from harm. By page 20 of The Annihilators, she is dead, killed by some Latin American revolutionaries trying to coerce Helm into shooting their country's president. Her death makes Eric mad, and he sets out to see that those who were responsible pay. His methods are somewhat roundabout, with a trip back to "Costa Verde," a Latin American country where he has been before (see The Ambushers), where his efforts result in a complete change of government, and where he joins forces with the man Mac has sent him to kill.

The Players:
  • Hector Jimenez, former president of Costa Verde, who got to be president with a rifle Eric left behind after a mission there. Now he wants to be president again, and Hector's efforts at forcing Helm to help him is what gets Helm mad enough to arrange his demise.
  • Ricardo Jimenez, Hector's oldest son, who had no part in the plot to get Helm involved, eventually becomes Costa Verde's new president with Matt's blessing. (The ousted president, Armando Rael, gets away, but keep him in mind. He wants his revenge, and that makes another story later on.)
  • Jaime Putnam, ex-Vietnam hero, whose military experience gets Matt out of the hands of the revolutionaries, and gets Jaime appointed head of the new government's military.
  • Frances Dillman, archeologist, who will do anything to save her husband, Archie, including double-crossing Helm--even attempting to kill him. But Eric is a forgiving sort when it comes to women, and she winds up in bed with him by book's end.
  • Bultman, free-lance assassin, high on Mac's priority list, is hired by the Costa Verde president to kill Hector. Although Matt was assigned to eliminate Bultman, he instead joins forces with him in the plot to wipe out Hector and his family.
  • Enrique Echeverria, the real power behind the bad president of Costa Verde, and all around not very nice guy. Matt brings that power to an end with a well-placed rifle bullet in Enrique's spine.

Amorous conquests: Frances Dillman, who hops into bed with Helm early on, but later actually begins to like him a little. She calls him "darling" soon after their first sexual encounter.

Dead: When there's a revolution going on, it's hard to keep track (Three foreign agents were ceremoniously sacrificed by an ancient religious group; Miranda Matson, an old journalist buddy of Matt's, killed by Sanchez, one of the revolutionary types; Hector and his family and bodyguards, killed by Bultman and his men; and Matt killed Echeverria as well as some of the revolutionaries holding him and others for ransom.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: A minor bullet wound, not serious.

When Mac assigned Eric to go after Bultman, he was not too specific in issuing the orders, giving Eric some flexibility of judgment. It turns out the reason why Washington wants Bultman dead is that he was working for the CIA when he tried, but failed, to assassinate Fidel Castro in Cuba; the CIA did not want that information ever to leak out, and figured with Bultman dead, it wouldn't. So when Matt and Bultman finally meet, Matt solves the problem this way:
     Bultman asked, "And what do you plan now, Helm?"
     "Why," I said, "I am going to complete my assignment according to my own best judgment, as my chief instructed me to. Raise your right hand."
     Bultman hesitated. "I do not understand... . Ah, very well." He switched the automatic to his left hand and held up the other.
     "Good," I said. "Now swear to me on whatever you hold sacred that you will never, under any circumstances, reveal the identity of the organization for which you were working on that ill-fated mission on which you lost your foot."
     "Ach, this is stupid!" he said irritably. "I do not betray the names of my principals--"
     I said, "I know that. And you know it. So what harm does it do to swear it?"
     After a moment, he smiled thinly. "Very well, I do so swear."
     "Danke schon," I said. "I have now insured your permanent silence as my orders required. There's my official assignment in Costa Verde, all taken care of."

Conclusion: Although Mac is, as usual, upset about the way that Eric, as usual, bends Mac's rules and regulations, the end result is satisfactory and Matt gets off the hook, so to speak. Mac orders him to report to Washington, saying "Now that these minor matters have been dealt with, we have work to do." Which brings us to. . .

Matt Helm ™ is the property of Donald Hamilton.
and is a Trademark of Integute AB
This independent reference to, and appreciation of, the Matt Helm book series
is copyright 1998-2012 - Don Winans
Originally posted in June 1998 - Last Modified 22 July 2000
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