RARA-AVIS: Murderers' Row

06 Mar 99 12:56:00 -0500 --UNS_gsauns2_3070122822
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I know it was last month's book, but February's a short month, so I
hop no one will mind a few random thoughts on this book.

One thing that struck me on re-reading this after so many years is
that Robin Rosten's culpability in the spy plot against the US was
kept hidden from the reader until close to the end. I won't comment
on how well-hidden. I don't expect it was too hard for most of you to
pick her out as the main villain of the piece. It was interesting to
me, however, that there was even a token attampt at concealment, since
the whodunit-type plot is fairly rare in spy fiction. Offhand, I can
only think of LeCarre's *Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy* and William
DeAndrea's series of four novles about American Super-Agent Clifford
Driscoll that qualify. Incidentally, Robin doesn't drown in
*Murderers Row*. She returns, under an alias, in *The Intimidators*
and *The Revengers*.

Hamilton seemed to rather like recurring villains. The most frequent
was Mr. Soo, a Red Chinese agent who appearred in four Helm books
(*The Betrayers*, *The Interloopers*, *The Poisoners*, and *The
Retaliators*). On the basis of sheer ubiquity, he's the closest Helm
came to a personal Moriarty.

Vadya, a beautiful Soviet agent who was Helm's opposite number,
appears in three books (*The Ambushers*, *The Devastators*, and *The
Menacers*). But, in Hamilton's eyes, the worst villains are federal
bureacrats who undermine the effectiveness of the nation's
intelligence agaencies, and Helm's agency in particular. Herbert
Leonard, who appears in two books (*The Menacers* and *The
Intriguers*) and Mr. Bennett, who appears in three (*The Revengers*,
*The Infiltrators*, and *The Vanishers*), fit this description.

More later. - Jim Doherty

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