Monday, March 11, 2013

10. Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton

Damn skippy I own this.
I bought this paperback at the inestimable Kayo Books in San Francisco.  I have mixed feelings about Donald Hamilton and picked this one up because of a combination of the date, the price and the cool cover.  It turns out (and I thank the inestimable Nick Jones of Existential Ennui for making me aware of this) that this was the first Matt Helm book.  So that was quite exciting. Happily, the book itself is great and lives up to its reputation as a hard-boiled spy classic.

It's an awesome title and the book explores the theme well.  The protagonist is successful fiction writer (Westerns) Matt Helm, living a very normal, pleasant life in Santa Fe with his lovely family.  He is almost a decade out of his war career, where he was part of a ruthless top secret Allied spy/commando force.  To everyone around him now, he had a fairly boring war, though he did get badly injured.  The book opens in medias res (and really well done in media res as well) at a party where he sees a beautiful young woman who was his colleague and lover back in WWII.  Her presence quickly brings back memories and then more than memories as he gets tangled up in whatever the hell she is up to here.  It's a great ride and the ending is particularly intense and tough and satisfying.  I'm kind of glad this isn't the first Matt Helm book I've read and that I was aware that the whole series is not able to maintain the hardness of this one.  Otherwise I might have been in for a great letdown. Coming to Death of a Citizen at this phase in my reading was most rewarding.  Get your hands on this, citizen.


Yankee Cowboy said...

Nice review of an outstanding spy/thriller book.
I have the same paperback edition as you and am quite glad to have it.

OlmanFeelyus said...


Let me tell you, I turned those pages very carefully. Physically, it's an old paperback at this point.

John Oak Dalton said...

Just a great series that needs to be brought back to the fore.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Yes, they should do for it what the University of Chicago did for the Parkers.