Synopsis: Emil Taussig, alias William Kahn, an evil genius, devises a plan where his operatives shadow top level leaders and scientists with the goal of killing them all just before the Soviet Union attacks the U.S. Matt's job is to identify one of the "shadowers," capture him or her alive, and get the operative to tell where Taussig is. Then all Helm has to do is kill Taussig. But there is a joker in the deck that confuses the mission.

The Players:
  • Gail Hendricks, Matt's girl friend, dies as the book begins. Although her death looked like an accident, there are no accidental deaths in Matt Helm's life.
  • Taussig, the evil genius, whose only appearance in person in the book is near the end when Helm kills him.
  • Harold Mooney, M.D., one of Taussig's recruits. Killed by Dottie Darden to keep him from talking.
  • Dottie, whose cover is as Mooney's nurse assistant, is the "shadower." She is captured by Helm, interrogated by the "wrecking crew," talks, and then dies.
  • Toni Vail, an innocent bystander forced into the action by Helm. She is eventually killed by Karl Kroch.
  • Olivia Mariassy, the scientist being shadowed. In order to stay close to her in hopes of identifying her shadower, Matt (using the name Paul Corcoran) and Olivia are married.
  • Karl Kroch, the pro who keeps turning up and confusing the issue. Turns out he is a leftover from The Ambushers, who is seeking revenge for Matt's killing of Kroch's boss, Von Sachs. When Matt finally figures out that Kroch is not a "shadower" and that he was responsible for Gail's death, these thoughts go through his mind: "At that moment I was very happy he had no information anybody wanted. I didn't have to treat him gently. I didn't have to catch him and preserve him like a delicate scientific specimen. I could smash him like a cockroach, and I was looking forward to it; and I didn't care how big he was or how many guns he had. He was dead."

Amorous conquests: Olivia, who calls him "darling" after they consumate their phony marriage.

Dead: Six (Gail Hendricks and Toni Vail, killed by Kroch; Harold Mooney, killed by Darden; Dottie Darden, dies after interrogation; Karl Kroch, killed by Olivia Mariassy; and Taussig, killed by Helm.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: Bullet wound in the thigh from Kroch; minor concussion.

Conclusion: With Taussig dead and the known shadowers rounded up, the scheme is foiled. Matt recovers from his wound, visits his "wife," Olivia, briefly, and then is off on his next adventure 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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