Recommended Read: The Wrecking Crew by Donald Hamilton

WreckingCrewThe Wrecking Crew –first published in 1960- is the second outing for Donald Hamilton’s post-war counter-agent Matt Helm and a dark affair it is too.

Now that his wife and children have left him, Helm is back in the espionage game after a long break  and is sent to Sweden in order to terminate – or ‘touch’,  to use Helm’s lingo – a dangerous Russian operative known as Caselius – ‘The Man Nobody Knows’.

Caselius – amongst the other mayhem he has created – is apparently also responsible for the murder of a journalist and Helm’s job is to pose as a photographer and use the journalist’s widow to track down the Russian.

The Wrecking Crew is a tense and well- paced spy thriller with a gripping atmosphere of Nordic gloom. Helm is a far from likeable character but his pessimistic world view- in particular his observations about people’s  hypocrisy towards the spy game – is powerful and compelling. Hamilton’s descriptions of people and places are also particularly good and although this is the first Matt Helm book that I’ve read I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more.

(This post first appeared at MEAN STREETS)