Synopsis: Netta O'Leary, code-named Ruby, the red-haired agent recruited to Mac's group back in The Menacers, is dead. Matt is assigned to track down and remove her killer, a former-Russian agent code-named Nicholas. Nicholas, posing as a driver for a crime-syndicate, is actually working for Mr. Soo, the Chinese gent we've encountered a couple of times. After messing up a U.S. drug agency's plan to catch the boss of the syndicate, and interfering with Mr. Soo's plot, Matt gets both Nicholas and the actual killer of Netta.

The Players:
  • Warfel, the syndicate boss, who helps Soo in exchange for Chinese heroin. He survives, but still has the drug agency on his trail.
  • Charlotte Devlin, one of the narcs after Warfel. By trying to get back at Matt for messing up her operation, she succeeds only in getting a police officer killed.
  • Beverly Blaine, working with Nicholas, was the shooter who killed Netta. Beverly commits suicide after confessing to Matt Helm that she was "Nicholas."
  • Mr. Soo, Chinese agent, who didn't seem to mind very much that Matt messed up his smog-machine operation; he even made it sort of easy for Matt to escape his clutches. He'll be back.
  • Roberta "Bobbie" Prince, one of Soo's agents, is torn between her loyalty to Soo and her general dislike of cloak-and-dagger stuff. She is shot by Nicholas, but survives.
  • Nicholas, alias Willi, discredited Russian agent. Seems he was involved in the UFO plot in which Miss O'Leary played a part. She recognized him and that was why she was killed. Matt shot him in the right eye and that was the end of Nicholas.

Amorous conquests: Roberta Prince, who calls both Warfel and Helm "darling," spends some time in bed with Matt. Beverly Blaine offers herself to Matt, but he declines; she calls him "darling" just moments before killing herself.

Dead: About 14 (Netta, killed by Blaine and Nicholas; Basher Brown, killed by Warfel's men; Blaine, swallowed a suicide pill; a policeman, killed by Jason, one of Soo's men; Nicholas killed about five syndicate men; and Helm killed two of Warfel's men, two of Soo's men, and Nicholas. Note that one of the syndicate types supposedly killed by Nicholas, named Sapio, survives to return and cause Helm trouble in The Revengers.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: He got beat up a couple times by one of Warfel's men, and suffers a concussion when he rams into Soo's truck, but once again he comes through pretty much unscathed.

     Matt was caught early on in the book by some syndicate types who wanted to know what he knew. Each time Matt professed to know nothing, the one named Tillery would say: "Hit him, Jake," whereupon Jake would knock Matt down and haul him up again. Matt's thoughts on this were:
     "It got a little rough, but there was nothing to do but take it. I mean, if I'd thought they were planning to kill me, or work me over hard enough to cripple me, I might have tried something violent to break it up, but that would have involved noise and, probably, dead men on the floor, and Mexican policemen all over the place. As long as it was no more serious than a bunch of hoods demonstrating their touching faith in the power of knuckles, I could ride along with it, amusing myself in the usual way--under such circumstances--by thinking about the excruciating deaths they were all going to die when I caught up with them later . . . ."

Conclusion: Matt winds up in the hospital recovering from the concussion, getting chewed out by Mac for not following the standing orders, and being threatened with a trip to the "Ranch" for some refresher training. He doesn't go, of course, but the "Ranch" figures into his next mission . . .

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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