Synopsis: In the beginning, Matt wakes up in a Canadian hospital with amnesia. Not knowing who he is, he still has sense enough to stay alert. He has an unusually rough time of it in this novel, and as a result, the book ends with him back in the hospital. For the second year in a row, Donald Hamilton received an Edgar award nomination.

The Players:
  • Catherine "Kitty" Davidson, widow of Roger Davidson, who is trying to put a terrorist organization that killed her husband out of business. She does not survive.
  • Sally Wong, narcotics agent, who is trying to bring down a syndicate boss who is smuggling drugs into the U.S. She survives to give Helm some comfort at the end of the book.
  • Michel Ross, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, who was sort of involved in Matt's earlier mission in Canada (The Interlopers). He doesn't like Eric much, but they reach a grudging understanding by book's end.
  • Joan Market, organizer of the P.P.P., a terrorist outfit that also is doing some dirty work for the mob, in exchange for supplies, explosives, and support. She does not survive.
  • Elsie Somerset, doctor who enjoys torturing people, and who had lots of fun with Matt Helm trying to break through his amnesia to find out what he knew. She does not survive.
  • Herbert Walters, Matt's original target, who Matt killed shortly before the plane crash that caused Matt's amnesia. Walters was piloting the airplane, you see, and after killing Walters, Matt had some problems getting the plane back to earth.

Amorous conquests: Another new record--Catherine directs the word "darling" at Matt, alias Paul Madden, on page 6. After the last novel, where the word was conspicuously absent, Mr. Hamilton must have been aching to get "darling" back into use as quickly as possible. Later on, Sally Wong calls him "darling," too.

Dead: Lots of dead in this book (Kitty Davison, killed by John Ovid, a syndicate enforcer, who also killed or seriously wounded several P.P.P. members; Ovid, killed by one of the P.P.P. troops; and Elsie Somerset, killed by Kitty Davidson. There were bunches of people blown up by the P.P.P. As for Eric, he killed Walters, Joan Market, and probably another 10 or more P.P.P. guys and gals. Virginia Dominguez, code-named Norma, who you may recall from the last book, was killed in South America by Walters.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: Matt has a few minor injuries including a concussion (resulting in his amnesia) from the plane crash, gets tortured for several days by Dr. Somerset, gets his skull creased by a bullet from one of the P.P.P. gunmen, and after the final shootout, the doctors have to dig three bullets and two buckshot balls out of him.

After killing Davidson, the P.P.P. sends their troops, about 15 of them, after Helm who is in Kitty's apartment:
     "I knew they were out there. I knew they were coming in. They were on the outside stairs when I grabbed the knives out of the rack: the two big chef's knives I'd spotted the first time I'd walked through. There was one eight-inch Sabatier and one ten-incher, a real sword. Both had wicked, heavy, sharp triangular blades that were wasted on vegetables. They were at the door; they kicked it in. They came through it movie-style, two of them, waving submachine guns, for God's sake!"
     "I recognized the nearest; I'd seen him before. I threw the big knife point first, letting it slip off my fingers; there wasn't room to put a spin on it at that close range. It flew like a spearhead without the shaft and went hilt-deep into the chest. As the man sagged aside, I threw the eight-incher. It got the throat of the guy beyond, a little higher than I'd intended, but why should I admit that? It looked very good, very impressive, very calculated."
     "That was the idea now, to make it look good. When the odds are overwhelming and retreat is cut off, when there's no place left to go or you just don't care to go there, that's the time you let the word get around once more that none of us comes cheap. They can have us any time, but they've got to pay the price. The tariff is more than a lot of people can afford. It makes things a little safer for those left behind."

Conclusion: This novel is a little different than most up to this time. Here there are no evil foreign agents to deal with, just home-grown terrorists and organized crime people. Also, at one point, Mac offers Matt a job in Washington as his second in command--an offer that Matt declines.

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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