Synopsis: A terrorist group, the Caribbean Legion of Liberty, sets off a bomb in a restaurant that kills Matthew Helm, Jr., Eric's son. So Matt sets off, with his widowed daughter-in-law, to wipe the CLL off the face of the earth, or at least those in charge. From New England to the Caribbean, bodies pile up. The whole mess is started when Matt's old enemy, Bultman, gets mad because his dog is summarily shot by some overly zealous border guards.

The Players:
  • Cassandra Helm, nee Varek, widow of Matthew Helm, Jr. She is the daughter of retired mobster, Sonny Varek. She wants vengeance for her husband's death, and helps Matt most of the time to get the CLL leaders.
  • Alexander K. "Sonny" Varek, former drug dealer and mob type, now retired. He, too, has revenge on his mind and helps his daughter and Helm in their endeavours.
  • Lia Varek, Sonny's current wife (not the mother of Cassandra). Winds up a rich widow and as Helm's love interest at the end of the book.
  • Dana Delgado, Mac's recently hired computer whiz-kid and expert on terrorist groups in the Caribbean. She accompanies Eric to Puerto Rico to act as guide, interpreter, and so on. She also has reasons for wanting the CLL put out of business violently.
  • Robert Tallman, head of a Presidential task-force to stop the drug trade. He has a particular dislike of Sonny Varek and is not above framing Varek or his daughter in order to put him away.
  • Angelita, or El Martillo, current head of the CLL. She organized and helped carry out most of the bombings done by the CLL, including the one that killed Matt, Jr.
  • Herman Bultman, assassin for hire, who had retired, but came out of retirement for one last operation against the Caribbean island government whose representatives killed his dog. Although Bultman does not survive, his mission probably succeeds.

Scorecard:
Amorous conquests: Lia Varek, who calls Matt "darling," and survives. Dana Delgado, who doesn't call him "darling" and who does not survive. Matt refrains from going to bed with his daughter-in-law, even though she calls him "darling" at one time.

Dead: Lots, not even counting those killed in CLL bombings (Sonny Varek, killed by Tallman, who died shortly thereafter from a bullet from one of Varek's guards; three of Tallman's troops, killed in an explosion meant for Helm and Cassandra; Leonard and several other men working for Varek as bodyguards for Cassandra; at least four CLL personnel, killed by Varek's men; two CLL troops killed by Louis or his men, working on Mac's orders; a few more CLL people killed by "Modesto" while trying rescue Dana; Dana, killed by Angelita; and a bunch of other CLL types killed when their headquarters blows up. Eric didn't do too badly. He killed two Morales brothers, both CLL people; Raoul, one of Bultman's commandos; Angelita and two of her gunman; and finally, Bultman, at his request.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: Three bullet wounds inflicted by Angelita, but not life threatening.

Quote: Willard said, "Matt, have you fired one of these baby MGs before?"
     I paused and looked back. "It's the first time I've seen one in the flesh."
     "Use the folding stock," he said. "Shoot from the shoulder. It ejects straight up. If you try to do a Rambo, holding it down at the hip, you'll get a faceful of hot brass."
     "Thanks."
     It gave me a pleasant feeling as I moved away. A lot of junior characters won't venture to give advice and risk being slapped down by senior characters who're too proud to take it. The fact that Willard had taken a chance on pointing out to me a characteristic of an unfamiliar weapon that might have caused me embarrassment showed that he was a pretty nice guy and that, having worked with me before, he'd decided I was.

Conclusion: Matt tried to retire in this novel, but the death of his son brought him back to Mac. Who knows what will happen 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
Send comments/criticisms/fan mail to MacBorden@aol.com