08 June 2015


Just finished the sixth Matt Helm book, "The Ambushers" by Donald Hamilton (1963) . This was made into an action comedy starring Dean Martin, but other than a few names and plot elements, it couldn't be further removed.

Shadowy government assassin Helm is once again sent to do his dirty work, and we're treated to an up close tutorial-like action sequence right in the beginning.From there Matt traipses across the southwest landscape with a self inflicted burden in tow--a psychologically damaged female agent. Helm is his usual cynical, emotionless scumbag... but one who can get the tough job done--jobs we pretend out government doesn't need done.
My only complaint is that I sense some ret-conning of the original timeline going on.


  1. Had the book (that edition, too) and the time and issues seemed right when I read it - and I was a teenager in the early 60s..

    PS When I read it, Matt came off less as a "cynical, emotionless scumbag" than as a tough-minded professional, former OSS or Ranger, who understood the business he was in wasn't for the faint of heart.


    Granted, there are some 007 ripoffs (Donald Hamilton (he also wrote Westerns like "The Big Country" and the novel that became "The Violent Men") was a very formulaic writer) in it, but luckily it wasn't much like the movie.

  2. I love the spy genre, and was just trying to emphasize that Matt is the most unlikable protagonist I've ever encountered....makes Mack Bolen look like a warm fuzzy puppy. I don't know why it took so long for me to discover the series--perhap I was averse to the Dino image. At any rate, I thing this is some top notch stuff. I'm currently halfway thru THE RAVENGERS now...Matt seems to have let his guard down a little......