Synopsis: Matt, disguised as gangster Jimmy "The Lash" Petroni, has the unpleasant assignment of beating up another agent, code-named Jean, so she will look more suitable for her mission. Unfortunately, during the beating, Jean dies, and Matt must take her place on the mission--which is to identify and "touch" the person who killed another of Mac's agents, code-named Ames. The whole assignment is one bit of sloppy work after another, but by sheer luck Matt Helm emerges from the slop with mission accomplished--sort of.

The Players:
  • Teddy Michaelis, daughter of scientist Norman Michaelis. Norman has been kidnaped and Helm is reasonably sure that whoever did that also killed Ames. Both Teddy and her father come through alive.
  • Louis Rosten, one of the bad guys, but not especially adept at it. He gets beaten up pretty badly but survives.
  • Robin Rosten, THE bad guy. Wife of Louis, she has a driving urge to get revenge on the U.S. Government which took her land. She is the organizer of the pipeline through which defectors, escapees, and certain kidnaped scientists, flow to foreign countries. She goes over the side of a sinking schooner in the Chesapeake Bay, and is not found. She is presumed dead, but don't count on it.
  • William Orcutt, lovesick boyfriend of Teddy. He saves the day at the book's end by trailing the schooner and helping to rescue the living from it.

Scorecard:
Amorous conquests: None. Mrs. Rosten calls him "darling" but she doesn't mean it.

Dead: Five (Jean and Ames, two of Mac's agents; Loeffer and his buddy, two of Robin's henchmen, one accidentally killed by Teddy, the other by Matt Helm; and Nick, Robin's right-hand man, killed by Matt Helm)

Injuries to Matt Helm: Two broken ribs which he suffered while being rescued from the schooner; otherwise nothing serious.

Quote: "Mac's voice was cold. 'An organization like ours cannot afford to overlook interference, particularly when it results in the death of one of our people.'
     'Yes, sir,' I said. 'So our objective is really teaching these outsiders to be careful who they bump off.'
     'Let us say,' Mac said carefully, 'they must learn not to monkey with the buzz saw when it is busy cutting wood.'"

Conclusion: This book begins and ends with Matt wanting to spend some time with Gail Hendricks, and Mac reluctantly gives him a month off to do so. This is the first book of the series so far in which Matt Helm does not wind up in bed with any of the females he encounters. He probably would have gone to bed with Robin Rosten if she hadn't slipped him some knockout drops. Moving right along, our intrepid hero, code-named Eric, goes south of the border 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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