Synopsis: This 1964 assignment takes Matt Helm to Canada where he is menaced by a vicious "15-year-old" with a water pistol full of acid. The whole thing is a plot to bring a Soviet submarine close enough to our shores to destroy it, allegedly in retaliation for their sinking of one of ours.

The Players:
  • Jenny Drilling, wife of physicist Herbert Drilling. She has stolen what she thinks are super-secret documents and is transporting them to Hans Ruyter.
  • Penny Drilling, daughter of Jenny. Kidnaped and used to force Jenny to do the treasonous deed.
  • Hans Ruyter, one of the bad guys. He is killed by Larry despite Helm's attempt to prevent it.
  • Larry, a U.S. agent (not one of Mac's), who goes off half-cocked and almost spoils the plan. Killed by Helm.
  • Naomi, impersonator of Penny, who manages to fool Helm and everyone else until her non-prescription glasses give her away. She eventually gets splashed by her own acid and dies when Helm offers her a death pill in exchange for the location of the real Penny Drilling.

Amorous conquests: Elaine Harms, who calls him "darling" and goes to bed with him. Naomi calls him "darling" and "a wonderful, coldblooded beast" just before he gives her the pill. Jenny doesn't call him "darling", but goes off with him at the end of the book.

Dead: A bunch (Mike Green, one of Mac's men, killed by Naomi; Hans Ruyter, killed by Larry; Elaine, an associate of Larry's, killed by Ruyter; Naomi, dead by her own hand; Larry, killed by Helm; and Soviet agent Muir and the crew of a Soviet sub he was riding on, destroyed by the U.S. government somehow)

Injuries to Matt Helm: None

Quote:There's always the risk, in this business, that you'll get so damn wary and smart and suspicious that you won't take a chance on anybody, not even when it may mean the difference between failure and success. It was a mistake I didn't want to make here. On the other hand, I had my orders. Security was paramount. I was not allowed to take anybody into my confidence; I couldn't tell Jenny enough of the truth to sound convincing and persuasive after everything that had happened. And there was a conflict of interest. She was concerned most of all with the safety of her daughter, while I had strict instructions to strangle any young girls who got in my way.

Conclusion: Penny is recovered safely, the Soviet Union learns they should not go around sinking U.S. submarines, and Matt Helm goes on 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
Send comments/criticisms/fan mail to