JON MESSMANN – A Bullet for the Bride. Ed Steel #1. Pyramid N2792, paperback original, September 1972.

   Once again what we have here is a PI hero who doesn’t have a PI license, but that doesn’t make him any less of a PI, does it? When he’s approached by a would-be client and after hearing her story, tells her to go find a private eye, guess what? That’s when we know that he really is one. She needs him to investigate the woman who’s gotten herself engaged to her father – one of the richest men in the world – and she doesn’t think she’s on the level.

   To back up a little, Steel is retired, lives in Miami on a boat, but a fellow named Byron Ryberg, who was his boss during the Korean War when they both worked for the CIA, still sends jobs his way, such as this one. Ryberg is concerned that the girl is right, and if she is, and maybe if she’s working for the wrong hands, maybe the good guys would like to know about it – given that, as I said, the father is one of the richest men in the world.

   On the downside of this story is that Steel is one of those men who, when they meet a woman for the first time, measures their worth by gauging the size and bounce of their chest. On the other hand, he’s a whiz at running a boat, which comes in very very handy several times during the course of this book.

   Which is a case of Travis McGee (as you may have already noted yourself) meets James Bond. The stakes are, as it so happens, a whole lot higher than in any of the McGee books, but yet Steel has nowhere near the innate suaveness of Mr Bond. The book consists of long periods of introspection and talkiness, punctuated by short bursts of violence. He does bed the lady, but thankfully without going into details.

   The ending strongly hints at a followup adventure, but it never happened. Messmann did go on write six book in his Jefferson Boone, Handyman, series, and 15 books in the Nick Carter series. His largest claim to fame, perhaps, is writing most of the first 200 books in the adult western series, The Trailsman, as Jon Sharpe.