Donald Hamilton – The Removers (1961)


Silver Age
Category: TBR First Lines
Date Finished: September 30, 2015

The cover blurb from the Milwaukee Journal calls this “Fast, tightly written, brutal, and very good…” It is definitely all of those things. Matt Helm heads to Reno at the call of his ex-wife to help out with some unspecified trouble. It turns out that she has remarried to a former soldier-of-fortune, who is being pressured by a mobster to smuggle heroin north from Mexico. Also present is a foreign agent posing as the mobster’s bodyguard. Sparks still fly with his ex-wife, but Helm also gets involved with the daughter of the mobster. It turns out that I very much like books that are fast, tightly written, brutal, and very good. Helm is superior to much of the bullying violence that an average spy or private eye encounters, and he tells us so. But he must maintain his cover, so puts up with things, waiting for his moment. This is also not a cartoonish view of spies and espionage a la the James Bond imitators that filled the ’60s, including the Matt Helm movies. This is the third book in the Helm series and the best I’ve read so far, of which this is the eighth. There is some continuity between the books, so I should probably have read them in order. This has been on my To Be Read pile since at least 1983, so it is about time that I got to it.

The other TBR first lines considered for this category:

Cop Out by Ellery Queen (1969)
It had been a good Indian summer and there were still leaves on the tiring maples behind the plant.

Credit for a Murder by Spencer Dean (1961)
The room was very warm, although a roaring norther rattled the tall windows of the old river mansion and made whirling dervishes spin across the snowy lawn.

Two to Tangle by Frank Kane (1965)
The man in the visitor’s chair was old, tired.

The Removers by Donald Hamilton (1961)
To get to Reno, Nevada, from the southeast, in summer, if you don’t have an air conditioned car, you first sleep all day in Las Vegas.

And with that box, I have completed the Silver Age bingo challenge for 2015.

Vintage Silver Bingo 2015-09-30

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