Synopsis: UFOs with U.S. Air Force markings are turning up down in Mexico, so Matt is assigned to find out more about them, and kill one of the witnesses if it looks like she might fall into enemy hands. The somewhat convoluted plot involves inter-agency bickering within the U.S. intelligence community, and a Russian plan to embarrass the U.S. in the eyes of the Mexican government.

The Players:
  • Herbert Leonard, an organizer who wants to be the head of a consolidated U.S. intelligence organization. However, his agency is infiltrated by Russian agents, and he is discredited by book's end. He'll be back, though.
  • Priscilla Decker, one of the Russian agents who infiltrated Leonard's new agency. She is killed by Matt Helm.
  • Tony Hartford, associate of Priscilla's. He is killed by one of Solana's men.
  • Vadya, Russian agent, who we have met before. She is killed by Laura Waterman, another Russian, because her loyalty is suspected after she is seen associating again with Matt Helm.
  • Harsek, Russian agent, killed accidentally by Helm while trying to disarm Priscilla.
  • Ramon Solana-Ruiz, Mexican agent, working with the U.S. to figure out the mystery of the flying saucers. He'll be back, too.
  • Bill Bannister, General, USAF, who has overall responsibility for the U.S. effort to sort out the UFO problem in Mexico. He, also, will be back.
  • Annette O'Leary, "Netta," the witness that Helm was supposed to kill if he couldn't get her safely back to the U.S. Eventually, she gets recruited into Mac's organization, upon Helm's recommendation.

Scorecard:
Amorous conquests: Vadya, who is killed before they can get into bed; she calls him "darling" in this book. Carol Lujan, an old acquaintance, who calls him "darling" just before hopping into bed with Helm. Annette O'Leary, who does not call him "darling," and winds up as his love interest at the end of the book.

Dead: Seven plus (Vadya, killed by Waterman; Hartford, killed by Solona's rifleman; Gregory Henderson, killed by Priscilla Decker; and one of Hartford's men, Waterman, Harsek, and Priscilla killed by Matt Helm. There were some other bodies around as a result of the "UFO" sightings, but they don't really count.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: None.

Conclusion: It is kind of a shame that Vadya had to die in this episode. Matt Helm had these thoughts at their latest meeting: "Some people have a thing about fraternizing with the enemy. They seem to feel that disloyalty is something you can catch across a table, like the common cold. They act as if the only safe way to remain faithful to duty and country is to quarantine yourself with none but certified patriots in a place where no sinister bacteria of subversion can possibly reach you from the infected creeps on the other side. Personally, I have a little more faith in my loyalty than this, and if the enemy wants to fraternize, I'm happy to be fraternized with. Why work like hell to ferret out someone's intentions by devious methods, when you can get him, or her, to tell you about them over a cold rum Collins?"

Next we are off to the great Northwest, where Mr. Soo returns, 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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