Synopsis: There is a nationwide conspiracy in place to overthrow the U.S. Government and the key to foiling the plot is a convicted spy just released from a maximum-security federal prison. She knows something, or the conspirators think she does, and they want her dead. Helm's job is to keep her alive and find out who's behind the whole thing. He succeeds, of course, but not before he falls in love with ex-con.

The Players:
  • Madeleine Ruston Ellershaw, ex-lawyer, ex-con, wife of Roy Ellershaw, missing scientist and accused spy. She gets some training at the "Ranch," helps Matt clear her name (and her husband's), and by book's end is engaged to Walter Maxon.
  • Roy Ellershaw, scientist, accused of being a traitor, is found dead after being among the missing for nine years or so.
  • Bella Kravecki, alleged communist courier and spy, went missing the same time Roy Ellershaw did, and her remains were found with his at the bottom of a mine shaft.
  • Walter Maxon, Madeleine's ineffectual lawyer at her trial. When she gets out of prison, he is still with the firm of Baron and Walsh, and eventually gets engaged to Madeleine, to Matt's chagrin.
  • Waldemar Baron, head of the law firm where Madeleine worked as a lawyer. He could have gotten her exonerated, but didn't. Madeleine kills him.
  • Bennett, our old enemy from another assignment, head of the Office of Federal Security. He was involved in the plot to destroy the U.S. Government and, as usual, gets slapped down pretty hard by Mac's agency.
  • Phil Burdette, one of the few pros in Bennett's agency, and probably the one who actually ran the show. He is killed by Helm.
  • Homer Walsh, Baron's law partner (retired). Homer, alias Toliver, was the brains behind the scheme to overthrow the government. He was silenced permanently by one of Mac's agents using Injection C.
This time Eric gets his orders from a top Presidential advisor:
     "Your instructions are to find the man behind CADRE, Tolliver or Taliaferro or whatever his real name is, and take care of him discreetly. That big-nosed bastard Bennett, of the OFS, should also--what's that word you spooks use?--be discreetly terminated. If any other individual seems to be in a position to take over, or just make serious trouble, he should also meet with a bad accident. In fact, kind of fatal. We've got to stop this thing before it moves, and it's no time to pussyfoot around. The idea is, you remove the heads of these snaky organizations and we'll take care of the wriggling thrashing bodies. Discreetly."
     "Discretion is our watchword," Mac said gravely.

Amorous conquests: Ellershaw, who get a little attached to Matt after a night together in bed. The next morning she calls him "darling."

Dead: Thirteen or so (Roy Ellershaw and Bella Kravecki, killed years ago on Baron's orders; Jackson, Matt's back-up man, agent for Mac who changes sides, commits suicide rather than face one of Mac's interrogation teams; one hit-man and Marty, Jackson's partner, killed by Jackson; Homer Walsh, killed by McCullough, one of Mac's agents; Joe Birnbaum and his secretary, killed by Chavez, who also killed a policeman named Crisler; Ernest Reis, another hit-man, killed by the mob; a policeman and Baron, killed by Madeleine, who was also responsible for the death of a truck driver who went over a cliff with his truck while trying to make her and Matt go over the cliff. Matt Helm took care of Willy Chavez, one of Baron's troops, and Phil Burdette. There were some others done in by Matt's back-up teams, but those were kind of hard to keep track of.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: He took a rifle bullet in the right shoulder that was intended for Madeleine, which kept his arm in a sling for the rest of the book, got his head dented by a policeman's billy club, and a broken rib or two.

Conclusion: This mission took many weeks to complete and Matt needed lots of help just to stay alive. Maybe things will go a little easier for him 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
Send comments/criticisms/fan mail to