Synopsis: Matt Helm meets Tina, an old World War II associate, who coerces him into helping her with her plans. Thinking she is still one of the good guys, he goes along. After finding out she isn't, he tries to forgive and forget. She kidnaps his daughter to force him to help her. He sets out to find his missing daughter with disastrous results for the WWII associate.

The Players:
  • Mac, head of the unnamed U.S. Government agency that grew out of the intelligence unit for which Helm worked during WWII.
  • Tina (her code name during her affiliation with Helm during WWII); ostensibly Madeline Loris, wife of Frank Loris. Real code name: Dolores. She is killed by Matt Helm after being tortured to reveal location of daughter, Betsy.
  • Frank Loris, associate of Tina's. Shot five times in the chest by Helm.
  • Barbara Herrara, one of Mac's operatives. She gets killed by Tina when she tries to alert Helm that Tina is one of the bad guys.
  • Sarah, another of Mac's people. She brings Matt and Mac together again. Sarah is a new and inexperienced agent, and when Helm forces her to disrobe so he can search her, she is very embarrassed undressing in front of him. The next time he will encounter her, she is working undercover as a stripper in a sleazy Mexican border town bar.

Amorous conquests: Tina, who dies before the book ends. Throughout the series of Matt Helm novels, the word "darling" seems to be tossed off with almost monotonous regularity. In Death of a Citizen, Matt's wife, Beth, calls him "darling," and Matt calls Tina "darling." I believed for a long time that Tina, to her credit, did not call Matt "darling," and said so in this paragraph. However, an alert fan recently corrected me, pointing out that on page 60, Tina does, in fact, say to Matt: "You think this is peace, my darling."

Dead: Three (one killed by Tina; two killed by Helm)

Injuries to Helm: None (he gets knocked down a couple of times, not serious)

Quote from Matt Helm: "I felt old as the Sangre de Cristo peaks above the town, ugly as an adobe wall, and mean as a prairie rattlesnake. I'd driven four hundred miles in the truck since yesterday morning and five hundred miles in the Plymouth since last night, but it didn't matter. Weariness just served to anesthetize my conscience, if I had one, which wasn't likely. Mac had done his best to amputate it long ago. It was, he said, a handicap in our line of business."

Conclusion: Helm gets his daughter back unharmed. However, he carelessly allows his wife, Beth, to see the dead and mutilated body of Tina, and she can't handle the truth. Their marriage ends in divorce, and a despondent Matt Helm returns to Mac's fold in . . .

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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