Good Afternoon El Moochadores! I just finished reading the exciting novel, Death of a Citizen written by spy fiction author Donald Hamilton. The novel is part of a new reissuing of Hamilton’s “Matt Helm” novels, which were originally written back in the 1960’s. Death of a Citizen was the first of Twenty-seven novels written in the first person narration of a former World War II assassin who, after Fifteen years of civilian life, is brought back into the world of espionage and murder. Here’s a brief synopsis of Death of Citizen:
Matt Helm, one-time special agent for the American government during the Second World War, has left behind his violent past to raise a family in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When a former colleague turns rogue and kidnaps his daughter, Helm is forced to return to his former life as a deadly and relentless assassin.
If John Steinbeck had ever wanted to write a spy novel (did he?) I have to imagine it would have been something like Death of a Citizen. Well, maybe his would have been a little more depressing, because this was a fun book! The only reason I compare it to Steinbeck is because of the straight forward first person narration and the often deadpan humor that fills the pages. Hamilton does a wonderful job of not getting too technical, while also keeping the action always present and fast paced. He starts Matt Helm in a safe and comfortable place in life (including having him live in New Mexico, mostly famous for Billy the Kid and Aliens that never existed) and then quickly proceeds to dismantle that life and return Helm to the killer he had been during the war. Helms straight forward narration explains the world Hamilton created but also allowed me (the lucky reader) to be surprised by the twist and turns the story makes. There is not a lot of criticism I can throw at Death of Citizen. It was an entertaining slice of cold war spy shenanigans and it didn’t follow too close to anything “Bond” related to make it seem like it was ripping off. You can find a copy of Death of a Citizen at Titan books or at Amazon.com