Synopsis: Matt Helm has been working for Mac for a year now, and he gets a note from his ex-wife, Beth, asking for his help. He soon learns, however, that Mac had approved his going to her aid knowing full-well that secret-agent stuff was involved and that a "touch" needed to be made. An agent for the opposition code-named Martel needed to be "removed," and Matt Helm was the remover for the job.

The Players:
  • Lawrence "Duke" Logan, who is now married to Matt's ex-wife, Beth. Mr Logan, it turns out, is a former syndicate type and not a particularly nice person. He gets shot up a bit, but survives, and even saves Matt's life.
  • Beth Logan, Matt's ex-wife. She gets raped once, but survives without serious damage.
  • "Big Sal" Fredericks, racketeer and dope distributor, for whom Martel works as a bodyguard. Killed by Lawrence Logan.
  • Moira Fredericks, daughter of "Big Sal." Her dog dies saving her from two goons who are trying to kidnap her; before dying, the dog kills the goons.
  • Martel, alias Jack Fenn, posing as hit man and bodyguard for Fredericks; actually an agent for an unspecified foreign government, probably the Soviet Union.

Scorecard:
Amorous conquests: Moira Fredericks, who does not call him "darling." His ex-wife, Beth, calls him "darling," but not in a friendly way.

Dead: Six ("Paul," one of Mac's men, killed by Martel; "Big Sal," killed by Logan; two unnamed hoods, killed by the dog; Joey, Martel's assistant, killed by Helm, and Martel, killed by Helm)

Injuries to Helm: Shot once in the chest by "Big Sal." Story ends with him recovering in the hospital. (Otherwise, he was just beaten up and knocked on the head which didn't bother him much.)

Regarding the "touch," Helm has this to say: "The Russians prefer the word liquidate. The syndicate boys call it making a hit. But we'd always referred to it as a touch, for no reason anybody'd ever figured out."

Conclusion: Matt manages to keep his children safe, although Lawrence Logan's son gets shot up pretty badly, but survives. The reason for Martel establishing a cover as a mob hit man is discovered and the threat to U.S. national security removed. The book ends with a call from Mac telling him where his next assignment will be, but we never get to hear about that mission. The next meeting with Matt Helm is 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