Synopsis: This mission takes place in the autumn of an election year, but before the next President of the U.S. has been decided. Eric's target is Hans Holz, who has been assigned to assassinate the next President, once he's been determined by the voters. In order to find Mr. Holz, alias Mr. Wood and "Woodman," Helm has to impersonate a Russian courier with a dog named Hank, travel up the west coast from Washington through Canada to Alaska, and sort out the devious people he encounters trying to decide who is friend and who is foe. Most of them turn out to be foe.

The Players:
  • Mr. Smith (or Ryerson), head of a U.S. counter-espionage agency. He borrows Matt Helm from Mac's to impersonate the courier, Grant Nystrom, unaware that Mac only loans his people when it will serve his own purposes.
  • Mr. Soo, Chinese agent, shows up briefly. He is head of China's contingent of devious agents. He survives to make trouble in future stories.
  • Elizabeth "Libby" Meredith, one of Soo's people. She survives, but the general feeling is that Mr. Soo may not allow her to live much longer after she turns phony information over to him.
  • Pat Bellman, one of Smith's people, smart but idealistic. Helps Helm to escape from Holz, but is killed by Meredith.
  • Ellen Blish, one of Mac's people, who presumably concluded her mission satisfactorily, but what her mission was is not made clear.

Quote: "I just lay there and waited him out. A little distance away, I heard a car door open. 'Come on, Wally! That's enough. Bring the keys!' Pat Bellman called. Wally waited a little longer. Then he started to crawl away. Done right, belly-crawling is no fun. Pretty soon he was up on his hands and knees, which is easier and faster but still hard work and painful. Having covered a total of about ten yards, roughly what I'd figured him good for, he gave up the struggle and got up to run, giving me the broad, white, clear target for which I'd been waiting. I shot once."

Amorous conquests: Libby Meredith, who calls our hero "darling."

Dead: Eleven (Pat Bellman, killed by Meredith; one of Holz' men, killed by Davis, one of Smith's men. Eric racked up seven: Michael Bird, Bellman's associate, shot in the back; Wally, another of Bellman's cohorts, shot in the back; another impersonator of Grant Nystrom and his buddy, both killed by Matt with his fancy pocket knife; Stottman, a Russian agent, shot by Helm; Jack, one of Holz' men, throat cut by Helm; and Hans Holz, shot in the back. One of Stottman's men, Pete, was also killed, but it was unclear whether he died of injuries suffered after Matt ran his car over a cliff, or was killed by one of Smith's men who also died of wounds received from Pete.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: None. He didn't even get beaten up severely.

Conclusion: Mission accomplished, Matt and Hank go off to the woods to do some duck hunting, one of the few "vacations" he gets. We'll soon find him back at work 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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