FRANK CASTLE – Murder in Red. Gold Medal #709, paperback original; 1st printing, October 1957.

   “Red” in the sense of Communist infiltration and intrigue, and unexpectedly so, since the blurb on the front cover doesn’t even hint at it — “They gave him only one choice: his girl’s life in exchange for his” — unless you can read something into that that I don’t see.

   It opens with an agent from behind the Iron Curtain — East Berlin, to be precise — making arrangements to cross the border from Mexico into New Mexico. What his mission is, he does not know. That he will learn only when the time comes. What he also was not told before hand is that a female companion will be assigned to him, an American, we learn right along with him, with a grudge against her country.

   Their journey is filled with the inevitable snags and interruptions that occur in books such as this. The stakes are high — something to do with a new project the Americans are working on, possibly involving ICBMs and/or other gadgetry. It’s still not a very exciting story, and truth be told, it’s a very minor one.

   The only thing that will keep most readers going, I think, is that every so often, Curt Weber’s memory starts to play tricks on him — there are things he should remember, he realizes, but can’t. I knew what that meant right away, and you probably already know as well.

Bibliographic Notes:  Frank Castle wrote five other mysteries for Gold Medal between 1954 and 1957. He also wrote a novelization of the Hawaiian Eye TV series for Dell in 1962. He also did a number of westerns for Gold Medal. How many I do not know, but it’s quite possible he wrote more of those than he did mysteries.