DONALD HAMILTON – The Frighteners. Matt Helm #25. Fawcett Gold Medal, paperback original, May 1989. Titan Books, softcover, 2016.

   According to the tiny number on the spine, this is #25 in the Matt Helm series, but inside the cover there’s a list of only 23 preceding this one. You figure it out. [In the age of the Internet, it is now very easy to verify that #25 is correct.] Helm takes up with three various female companions in this one, the first a bride on her wedding day.

   I do not believe I will be revealing too much of the story line if I tell you he’s impersonating her husband on a “honeymoon” trip to Mexico, on the trail of guns and revolutionaries. There is more that is not what it seems, and while there’s a fair amount if bloodshed, the complications of the plot will have your brain cells working overtime.

[ADDED LATER] I’ve actually probably understated the amount of bloodshed. This is a violent, male-oriented book, filled with talk of guns and the proper way to use them. Of all the quotes I could pick from this book, I liked the one on page 270 just about as well as any. This is Matt Helm, telling his own story: “As I’ve said before, we don’t play the hostage game, and he shouldn’t have tried it. He really shouldn’t.”

— Reprinted and slightly revised from Mystery*File #20, March 1990.