Synopsis: It's practically old-home week for Matthew. First he reunited with Martha Borden, Mac's daughter, now the widow Divine, since her husband, Bob Divine, a former agent of Mac's, has been murdered. Then Matt visits Captain Hattie, alias Harriet Robinson, formerly Robin Rosten. Other people he has encountered before, such as Fred and Brent (from The Intimidators), both Mac's people, are back; and syndicate-type Sapio (now known as George Winfield Lorca) and Bobbie Prince (from The Poisoners) show up as well. Except for Martha and Brent, who are engaged to be married by book's end, they all die. Matt's job is to protect newswoman Eleanor Brand, who's written an expose of Mac's outfit and Mac wants to make sure that no harm comes to her for fear that his group will be blamed. Keeping Miss Brand out of trouble is no easy task, Matt discovers.

The Players:
  • Eleanor Brand, free-lance writer, who is investigating some mysterious ship sinkings in the Bermuda Triangle. Thanks to Helm, she survives, although it turns out she cannot publish the story.
  • Harriet Robinson, Matt's old friend from a couple of novels, commits suicide rather than face exposure of her past and the possibility of going to jail..
  • Martha (Borden) Devine, Mac's daughter. She pops up periodically throughout the book, but doesn't help much. Eventually becomes engaged to and marries Michael Brent, one of Mac's part-time helpers.
  • George Winfield Lorca, "reformed" mafia type, alias De Sapio, or Kid Sapio, or the Sapper, who is trying to become a top politician in the U.S. government. He lets his lust for revenge get the better of him, however, and the syndicate finally realizes he isn't going to make it as a politician. He commits suicide.
  • Serena Lorca, Sapio's daughter. She too has revenge on the brain, and is the one responsible for the sinking ships. She gets run over by a tanker at sea and presumably dies.

Amorous conquests: Mac's daughter initially looks to him for comfort, but then turns to Brent. Matt has a romantic interlude with Cap'n Hattie shortly before she commits suicide. After the mission is completed, he finds romance with Ellie Brand, who calls him "darling" once.

Dead: Fifteen plus (Bob Divine, Martha's husband, killed by a jealous neighbor; Harriet Robinson and Lorca, suicides; Fred, Mac's agent, killed by Robert; Roberta Prince and her child, killed by Serena (Serena was also responsible for sinking some ships with lots of crewmembers dying); and three hippie types, killed by OFS agents. Matt Helm gets credit for Lawson, one of the OFS agents; Warren Peterson, Brand's original bodyguard; and five of Serena's men, Giulio, Henry, Adam, Robert, and Arturo (for Arturo, he needed some help from Miss Brand).

Injuries to Matt Helm: He suffers a slight bullet wound in the OFS massacre of the hippies, gets hit on the head pretty hard by Giulio, and gets shot in the leg by Arturo, but the bullet went clean through and Helm is walking with a cane by book's end.

Quote: "The most dangerous thing in this business is to let somebody, anybody, get the impression that you're afraid to die. If that ever happens, they'll cut you down instantly. Whether I really am afraid or not doesn't matter. As long as I can kid everybody that I'm crazy enough--or brave enough if you want to be so flattering--to go for broke every time, regardless of consequences, I'll probably survive. Nobody really wants to go up against a guy like that. And maybe I'm not even kidding. They don't know, you don't know, and maybe I don't know, either."

Conclusion: The Office of Federal Security, or OFS, headed by Mr. Bennett rears its ugly head in this book. Mr. Bennett is another of those eager-beaver publicity seeking U.S. intelligence types who wants to run the whole show. He'll be back again.

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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