Uncle Dust

UNCLE DUST author Rob Pierce is back with All Due Respect Books! | All Due Respect Books

Absolutely noir. This book is in many ways in feel and attitude a throwback to fifties-era noir. It has a sensibility (although not as poetic) like a Goodis novel of Dustin (Uncle Dust) ping ponging around town and drinking himself to death. Be forewarned this book is a character study much more than a plot- driven story. Dustin is a ban robber and a loan collector for a bookie. Going out collecting is just a job for him, but he likes punching people. The narrative takes us readers inside Dustin’s skull as he sinks further and further into oblivion. No job is satisfying. He has a jealous relationship with Theresa and feels sometimes fatherly to her geeky Pokemon-playing son to the point where he trains him to take on the bullies. And he can never drink enough Scotch. Drink after drink until he passes out.
This is a powerful evocative tale that shows Dustin’s fall. It’s dark. It’s noir. It’s really really good.

Circle of Sinners

Circle of Sinners by Lawrence Block

Circle of Sinners is an early Block work, published under the pseudonym Don Holliday in collaboration with Hal Dresner. At the time this was published, Block was paying the bills by churning out tittlating tales for a sex-obsessed public who didn’t yet have cable or the internet. Told at the early stages of the sexual revolution, this book is sort of like a chain mail letter. It begins with telling the tale of one man, recently divorced from a woman who turned out to be a tramp who seeks adventure in the hip jazzy bars of Harlem. It then traces the adventures of each partner in a short vignette with the next partner. On the way, the story stretches across prostitution, engagements, slumming in Greenwich Village, lesbianism, rape, threesomes, lushes, nymphos, and jealousy. Good writing. Good character development. Probably banned material when it first came out, but tame by today’s standards.

IQ

IQ by Joe Ide

Joe Ide’s debut novel is a fresh take on the urban detective novel. Set in the hood of South Central Los Angeles, the main character is a brilliant young man whose initials just happen to be “IQ” and thus his nickname. The story is at its best when this urban Sherlock Holmes type character is involved in deductive reasoning. His ability to see through the logic of any problem is like a second sight. IQ has a great backstory with his older brother’s tragic death and IQ’s desperate plans to keep his apartment by going on a crime spree. The frequent switches in timelines were a bit jarring to story continuity. The villain of the story was great. The focus on rappers and their lifestyles detracted from the story and probably was unnecessary to the development of the character. Overall, a decent read, but the focus should in the future be on IQ’s genius not rap.

Wrong Light

The Rick Cahill Ser.: Wrong Light by Matt Coyle (2018, Hardcover) for sale online | eBay

Wrong Light has all the trappings of a great private eye mystery from a sultry husky-voiced radio personality with a questionable past to mafiosos to a poetic psychotic stalker to steamy strip clubs to tail jobs. It is the fifth book in the Rick Cahill series and perhaps the most polished of the group. It is a very easy to read, filled with action, and great fun to read. Set in modern San Diego, which oddly enough has rarely been featured as a mystery setting at least rarely since Wade Miller’s Max Thursday series, it features a private eye who has a long and difficult history with the La Jolla PD and is haunted by his past in Santa Barbara. This volume focuses less on the past and more on the present circumstances facing Cahill.

Battle Mask

BATTLE MASK (EXECUTIONER #3) By Don Pendleton *Excellent Condition* | eBay

Pendleton’s Executioner series continues here in its third volume. If you haven’t read the first two volumes, I would suggest you do so as they give you the full background of Mack Bolan and why he returned from service in Vietnam to conduct a private war against the Mafia.

The biggest question I had before picking up Battle Mask was where Pendleton could go with the story considering how guns-blazing filled with action the first two books were. Question answered. This book is just as bloody and filled with action as the first two.

Most importantly, Men’s action story or not, Pendleton is an excellent storyteller. It is easy, quick reading and so action-packed it is really hard to put down. Battle Mask once again finds Bolan on his own against overwhelming odds. It’s a story about the miracles of plastic surgery and fake identities and Bolan getting the upper hand against his enemies. The plastic surgery bit is of course similar to Richard Stark’s Man With the Getaway Face. In any event, Read every page. The Executioner series is that good.

Brute Madness

Ledru Baker, Jr. BRUTE MADNESS 1st Edition 1st Printing | eBay

“Brute Madness” is a somewhat unsuccessful 1960 espionage novel featuring an atomic scientist and the gorgeous wife with no past who he fell for in mere seconds. It takes the reader on an exotic tour through Los Angeles, Mexico, and Haiti. Unfortunately, it’s not quite up to the standard of Baker’s other work. The storytelling feels awkward, unrealistic, and stilted.

Sidewalk Saint

Sidewalk Saint by Phillip Depoy (English) Hardcover Book Free Shipping! 9780727892928 | eBay

Sidewalk Saint is the fourth book in a quirky offbeat crime fiction series. Foggy Moskowitz, a former Brooklyn car thief, now a Florida Child Protective Services Officer, with a nose for trouble and a penchant for getting things right. An escaped convict with a gun looking for his daughter, Etta, a precocious puzzle-solver who half the underworld us after for some reason that is perplexing. A bunch of hoods from New York and Montreal at odds with each other. A ghost following Foggy. A Seminole Native American who seems to know things before they happen. It is all packaged with a quirky tongue-in-cheek narrative, although solving this mystery is a lot like untwisting a pretzel.

Fugitive Red

Fugitive Red by Jason Starr / Review by G.Robert Frazier

Starr has given us a story about self-destruction and desperation. Jack once had a drinking problem. Now he sort of has an infidelity issue, and somehow you know that meeting someone, no matter how provocative she texts, meeting some stranger online just ain’t the smartest idea. No matter how rough his marriage looks right now, this meetup is going to send Jack crashing over the cliff edge and bouncing off the cliff walls like some crazy pinball out of control. And once you go over that edge, well, it just sort of all unravels and everything falls apart and everything you thought you could rely on disappears.

The burglar who traded ted williams

The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #6) by Lawrence Block — Reviews ...

There are eleven books in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series, but if you have read just one of them, then you have a pretty good idea of how the plot goes. Bernie is the world’s most expert burglar, except he thinks of himself as sort of retired from the business and devoted to running his used and antiquarian bookstore, which is around the corner from his best friend, Carolyn Kaiser’s dog grooming shop. He can’t stop himself from burglarizing, but, even though he is non- violent and a gentleman at all times, he is always tripping over dead bodies and his attorney is always bailing him out for robbing and murdering people he didn’t. But, Bernie can’t present an alibi usually because, while he wasn’t doing the crimes he was accused of committing, he was probably down the hall or around the corner, burglarizing another apartment. And, to finish it off, Bernie’s stories are always a sort of world onto themselves, kind of like sinking into a mushy hell of Six Degrees of Separation where everyone is sort of connected to anyone else. In a nutshell, that’s a Burglar book for you.

The thing is that Block is such a talented writer that, as a reader, you don’t care if the books have similar plotlines any more than you care if all the James Bond movies have a similar plot. This book, like the others in the series, is a funny, comedic journey through New York’s East Village and it is simply an enjoyable read that is hard to put down. Be forewarned that this is not the gritty meat of a Scudder book or even of Block’s Kit Tolliver stories. This is a series that is light and airy and humorous and filled with coincidences.

What does Ted Williams have to do with all this? Well, someone thinks Bernie stole his collection of Ted Williams baseball cards and everyone thinks he has them or has fenced them or something and bad things are going to happen if he doesn’t turn them over.

A Time for Murder

If you are into tough-nosed, Hardboiled detective fiction with guns blazing, car chases, hoodlums battling for control of the city, then Gasby’s Johnny Merck novels are your golden ticket. Merak, once a deadly hood, did three years at the Q (San Quentin) on a frameup, turned on the organization. This third novel in the series features a locked room mystery, a female wrestling queen, a mysterious murder, and sinister hoodlums. Like all the Merak novels, it’s simply great stuff.

Two Kinds of Truth

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly | Hachette Book Group

The Return of Harry Bosch

Two Kinds of Truth is the 20th Harry Bosch book and it is made of the same kind of professional quality as the rest of the series. If you’ve read the series before, you know what to expect and you are getting more of the same and that’s good news because this book is so well-written that the pages practically turn themselves. Here, Bosch returns from retirement yet again – a continuing theme in the latter books in the series – and gets involved in a revisit to an old case from thirty years earlier where an inmate on death row claims new evidence exonerates him and that a young detective Bosch planted evidence. There’s also a new case involving a brutal double murder and the opiate addiction crisis sweeping this country. You don’t have to but into the complex conspiracies and criminal masterminds to enjoy this book. It’s good solid fun to read. Connelly, who is a former LA Times reporter – back when the paper was good for something other than wrapping fish – makes Los Angeles come alive with an insider’s knowledge of local haunts and dives. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this selection

Wide Spot In The Road

The Education of a Pulp Writer: Wide Spot in the Road by Wayne D. Dundee

“Wide Spot In The Road” is the fourth novella in the Drifter Detective series featuring PI Jack Laramie, who travels the Texas roads in a beat up Desoto with a trailer. Not enough detective business in the big cities is drifting his way so he has set out on the road to see what he can stir up. And, trouble is his business so, stopping into a roadside diner for a bowl of chili, he finds trouble. The book is set in the late fifties and Laramie is one tough hombre. Much of the book focuses on a standoff with an outlaw motorcycle gang of the type that made Hollister famous in the fifties. Dundee also drops the name of Mike Hammer with the waitress asking Laramie if he was like Mike Hammer. This is a short piece, but a good, solid fun read. You can really feel how lonely it is in this desolate little spot and Laramie may not do much detecting in this piece, but he sure gets everyone’s attention. Good stuff, indeed.

Matters of Doubt

MATTERS OF DOUBT — Cal Claxton Mystery #1. | Warren C. Easley

Matters of Doubt is the first of eight Cal Claxton novels, originally published between 2013 and 2018, now being republished by Poisoned Pen Press. The other books in the series include Dead Float (#2), Never Look Down (#3), Dead Enough (#4), Blood for Wine (#5), Moving Targets (#6), No Way to Die (#7), and No Witness (#8).

Although the lead character, Cal Claxton, is a lawyer, this is by no means a legal thriller in the classic Perry Mason sense with courtroom drama and intense cross-examination. In fact, other than a bit of background, Claxton acts far more like an amateur private eye than an attorney. Claxton has as his background being a hard-charging Los Angeles prosecutor who did not realize his wife was severely depressed until she committed suicide. Despondent over the loss, Claxton decided a change of scenery would be the thing for him and up and moved to Dundee, a rural, wine country town, an hour out of Portland, where he set up a barely-functional one-man law shop.

The setting is important because there are few crime stories set in Portland and Easley gives us a Portland suffering from its tremendous homeless problem with encampments throughout Old Town and in set -aside makeshift campgrounds. This was, of course, written in 2013 long before 2020 brought Portland nightly riots and a soaring crime rate that belied its soft Northwest rainy laidback attitude.

Claxton is a soft touch in this the first novel in the series and he finds himself basically working pro bono (for free) for a homeless tattooed youth whose became homeless after his ace reporter mother disappeared and no one seemed to care. With the recent discovery of her body but no enthusiasm from the police for finding the culprit, Picasso (as he likes to be called) calls upon Claxton, who at first turns down the hopeless youth, but later has a change of heart and tracks him down to a free clinic in the downtown area where Picasso is painting a mural and Claxton starts falling for a young doctor who is also suffering from family loss.

Much of the book gives a sympathetic portrayal of the homeless throwaway youth suffering from mental problems and drug addiction and the difficulties of getting them to get on the right path. Indeed, here, Claxton is determined to believe in Picasso even when the entire city is out to string him up for murder and the evidence arrayed against Picasso is getting rather strong.

There is a joy in the writing which brings Claxton and the other characters to life, including his concern over his ever-present dog.

Dangerous Boys

Coming in March from Down & Out Books: DANGEROUS BOYS by Greg F. Gifune -- Down & Out Books | PRLog

Most of these kind of stories -whether a book or a movie – are set in the fifties when crews of leather-clad Italian rough guys from the wrong side of the tracks were all the rage. This is art in the 80’s with heavy metal in the background and it’s New Bedford, Mass, not Brooklyn, NY. Richie and his oaks are bad dudes and issue beat downs to anyone who messes with them or their girls. They are on the road to nowheresville but they got each other and they are the kings of New Bedford, pulling off small time crap, wondering if they got the balls for the Big time. There are some cliches here like the corn-bred college gal from Iowa and the uncle with the juice and the connections. But there’s brutal, realistic, gritty realism here and the author somehow gets it all just right in the narrative language and the dialogue. It feels genuine, not fake. Richie is complex, and ultimately feels real. It’s violent, nasty, and there’s no damn somewhere over the rainbow. But it’s the real deal, the genuine one.

Connolly’s Woman

Gold Medal 1058 | 1960 PBO; Connolly's Woman by Harry Whitti… | Flickr

Harry Whittington’s 1960 paperback, “Connolly’s Woman,” covers a lot of territory, starting with the theme of the square middle class executive bored with his humdrum life and ready to let his hair down and go crazy. It’s a theme covered by Gault in “Square in the Middle” and Jonathan Craig in several of his novels. Here, Whittington tackles it in an extraordinary way. In the opening scene, Charlie Wilson is at a cocktail party and meets a striking woman, who suggests that they go somewhere a bit quieter, which turns out to be the bedroom where all the coats and minks of the partygoers have been thrown. After she locks the door behind them, we are surprised to learn that Charlie is married and his wife is out in the living room with everyone else. All of a sudden, Charlie goes from being a suave bachelor to a heartless cad, particularly when we find out later that, for an hour, Betty was in the living room and no one would look at her because they all knew Charlie was in the locked bedroom with Liz. Charlie is truly a bit of a cad and Betty, although portrayed as a nagging wife, is rightfully angry at her mistreatment.

We later learn that same night that Charlie has had it with married life and is not concerned about the threatened divorce, though he works for Betty’s father. Charlie is all too ready to walk off at 3 a.m. when the next lovely siren shows up at their door with a story about how Charlie is needed by an old army buddy who has fallen on hard times and is at the end of his rope. But Charlie is ready to up and go with whoever at whatever hour of the day and sail across the gulf into the sunset in search of buried treasure.

What Whittington does further to develop Charlie’s character and, indeed, the plot line is he makes Charlie something different than a middle class square out to let loose in the night. Charlie is a Korean War veteran who spent most of the war in a POW camp where he was apparently tortured so ruthlessly that he has no memory whatsoever of those years. And, he would give anything to have those missing memories restored. So when Gil Connolly pops up into his life through his messenger girl, Velva, Charlie is off and running, both because he is bored with his humdrum life and because he is oddly disconnected and suffering from memory loss. Whittington gives us a real good feel for the PTSD that Charlie is suffering from, even though it may not yet have had a name.

Whittington returns to the theme of society’s outcasts. This girl, Velva, who shows up at the Wilson home, may have an eye-popping figure, but she is dirty from head to toe like any hippie-beatnik chick. We never learn about her background and how she came to the life she has now, we learn that she is aimless, a throwaway of society, and Connolly treats her as a plaything to be passed around so there is no trouble with three on a small boat.

There are a lot of different themes and plot-lines running through this novel from the post-war PTSD, the memory loss, the idea of stepping out from normal society and doing something a little crazy, the hunt for treasure, the nautical adventure that was so popular at one time, and the idea of the ghosts from the past coming back to haunt one. It is sort of an odd novel because it goes off in so many directions as if Whittington had a couple of different ideas he was playing with and never really settled on one plot-line.

Street Raised

This book is the ultimate urban crime prose. From page one to the
end, a dark vision of urban crime, decay, and street warfare. Speedy is
released from prison, returning only to find his brother a total
crackhead, his best pal the meanest bouncer alive, and within days he
tangles with a Mexican drug gang, a Skinhead gang, a cop looking to
take him back to prison, and all manner of street thugs and homeless
crazies. No one else writes like this. Wow!

Disco is Dead

Disco is Dead

It’s the early 80’s and disco is the pounding beat in the Miami casinos and Violence is a way of life as the cocaine barons fight for control of the town. Yes, it’s Al Pacino in “Scarface” and Richard Prather’s “The Peddler” retold, but the story as told by Rodriguez of the rise and fall of a soldier in the Miami cartel army feels somehow still fresh. The story is told vividly and feels like an action movie with a heavy Early 80’s beat. There’s always music playing and sometimes it’s Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and sometimes the Clash’s “Rockin the Casbah.” It’s filled with over the top violence, but feels genuine rather than awkward. Although the lead character is amoral, you can certainly see that he is trapped in the life by the twin demons of fear and greed as much as by anything else.
Told in the first person, reading it, you get a sense of someone over his head and rocketing on to destruction.

Run, Spy, Run (Killmaster # 1)

Run Spy, Run, published in 1964, was the first of what would eventually become 261 books in this espionage series that ran from 1964 to 1990. The main character is AXE agent Nick Carter and the house name for the author is Nick Carter, but this are not necessarily first person narratives. Book one is credited to Michael Avallone and Valerie Moolman. Others in the series are credited to Robert Randisi, Manning Lee Stokes, Lionel White, William Rohde, Martin Cruz Smith, and WT Ballard, as well as a host of other names.

Like Bond, Carter is deadly with weapons and women.  In fact, we are told that Carter does yoga to keep in shape and for his “great prowess in more amorous exercises.”  The femme fatales here include stewardess Rita Jameson.

At least in this novel, he doesn’t have a toolbox of high tech gadgets, but he has named his favorite three weapons.  He calls them his “trio of lifesavers,” “three delicately balanced instruments that were the great equalizers in the war of Spy versus Spy.”  The first and most important was Wilhelmina, a nine-millimeter Luger, a spoil from the SS barracks in Munich.  Wilhelmina was no ordinary Luger though.  She was stripped to no more than barrel and frame, making her feather-light and easy storage.  “Hugo was a killer of a different style but equal experience.  Hugo was an Italian stileto, a lethal miracle fashioned in Milano.”  It had a razor-thin ice pik blade and a bone handle no thicker than a heavy pencil.  Finally, “Pierre was a ball no bigger than a marble,” but a specialist in death, filled with X-5 gas.  Also, not to be forgotten, is a blue tattoos on his right forearm near the inside of the elbow, forever marking Carter as an AXE agent.

Featured prominently is the man with the steel hand, perhaps ushering in the era of Bond’s the man with the golden arm.  Perhaps not.

Also featured prominently is cartoon-style ultra-violence with passengers screaming in mindless terror and lightning bolts leaping from the heavens to strike down a straggly line of passengers.  He fires at a killing-machine of a body and keeps firing till “the thing in front of him lay riddled and bleeding.”  And when someone is struck, they are “no longer a person but an outraged mass of pulpy flesh.”

Thus, the Carter books begin with over the top spy versus spy action, amorous meetings aplenty, and ultra-violence that equaled only Mike Hammer’s forays into darkened alleys.  There are secret letters, meeting in Yankee stadium, and disguises hidden in lockers.

Where the book stumbles is plot-wise after a thrilling beginning and becomes a bit goofy and cartoonish in its adventures.  But, given that there were 260 sequels to this first book in the Nick Carter series, never fear because there is much more to come.

#espionage

#adventure

The Fourth Courier

The Fourth Courier is a stunningly great hardboiled espionage tale set in post-Communist Poland. The setting is a stroke of genius. The Iron Curtain has fallen and gray bureaucratic Warsaw is coming slowly to grips with Western capitalism and cooperation with the Americans. War is brewing in the former Yugoslavia, a war that would eventually become not only deadly but dirty and desperate. Nuclear scientists are at loose ends in Soviet Russia. And, the FBI has been called in for consultation on a series of riverside murders in Warsaw. Are they Russians who are being murdered? What is going on?

This is not for the most part a who-done-it although there is a murder mystery. It is a nasty sexy hardboiled story of murder, deception, betrayal, and spy versus spy. There’s a sexy woman running around in a fur coat and thigh highs turning every man’s head as she walks in her heels. And, seducing every man she meets. There’s a million bucks in a suitcase and dreams of leaving gray Warsaw where It’s still Winter in April.

Tough, nasty, and action-Packed. This is crime fiction and espionage fiction at its best.

#espionage

The Venom Business

The Venom Business @ Titan Books

John Lange was one of the early pen names of Michael Crichton, best known for The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. While enrolled at Harvard Medical School, Crichton began publishing a number of novels. Venom Business is one of a number of Crichton’s early novels that have recently been re-released. These early novels compare to many of the bookstand pulp/adventure/crime novels that could be found in the late sixties and early seventies and these books should be read in that context.

This one, however, was disappointing. The beginning was promising with the meeting of Charles Reynaud and Jane Mitchell in the Yucatan where Reynaud is a famed exotic snake hunter. It is later revealed that he uses the transportation of the venous snakes as a cover for smuggling artifacts from Mexico and Central America. The book proceeds from there and is way too lengthy and slow as it details Reynaud being hired as a bodyguard and then the subject of a brutal plot. It was difficult to care about the characters and as a reader I was not invested in the story. All in all, not worth spending much time on, but an interesting start to a widely successful literary career.

Normandy Gold # 2

Normandy Gold #2 by [Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Claudia Ianniciello, Steve Scott, Lovern Kindzierski]

Volume 2 continues the racy, titillating, adult-oriented graphic comic that pays homage to the fashions and looks of the Seventies. It also gives a subtle nod to many of the best movies of the decade. The plot is steamy, seedy, and hardcore pulpy. Here, Normandy continues her investigation into the world of D.C. prostitution and finds out her sister’s fate.

Lost Light

Lost Light (2003) - Michael Connelly

Lost Light is the ninth in the series. Bosch, at this point, has retired from the LAPD. He had abruptly retired and his former partner, Kizz Ryder is angry at him for leaving her hanging without notice. If Bosch simply retired and went to a beach in Costa Rica, there wouldn’t be much of a story, but then again, knowing Harry, there would be a story. Bosch can’t stay retired and he starts delving into an old case that he had only for a few days before it got transferred from him.

Bosch has no badge and doesn’t carry a piece anymore and simply has no standing or authorization to do anything. Step buy step, Bosch follows up the old leads, but, in between he butts heads with the FBI and with the Terrorism Squad and can’t figure out what is going on or why such a coverup seems to exist.

This book is action-packed. It shows a good knowledge of the ins and outs of Los Angeles and is classic vintage Bosch. A fun read that is highly recommended.

Dead Lands

Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis #BlogTour @urbanebooks @lloydotiswriter - mychestnutreadingtree

Dead Lands is a British crime thriller set in 1970’s Britain. Although it ultimately didn’t work for me, the author’s hard work and dedication produced a novel that appears to have captured other readers’ attention. Dead Lands jumps a lot through different points of view, much more like a movie than a novel, and it was hard to focus on one character or get a sense of what was at stake.

Master of Knots

The Master of Knots (The Alligator Mysteries Book 2) by [Massimo Carlotto, Christopher Woodall]

Welcome to the world of Italian noir. Carlotto is a modern noir artist. This is book five in his Alligator series. Alligator is an ex-con who runs a nightclub and does unlicensed detective work with two associates , who are also ex-cons. Their methods are at times a bit savage and vicious, though always professional. This book has a racy cover and is a crime story, not kinky erotica. The title and cover depict the subplot which concerns a well to do couple caught in a world of S&M fantasy play which they keep secret, under wraps, and that secret leads to blackmail, kidnapping, and more. It is into the world of sleaze and perversion that the Alligator must travel.

The Eiger Sanction

The Eiger Sanction, 1972 First Edition $99.00 | The eiger sanction, Bookshop, Antique books

Trevanian (aka Rodney Whitaker) wrote the Eiger Sanction, which became a million-volume seller in the 1970’s and was followed by a major motion picture, as a spoof on the super-spy action genre which was very popular in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Although Eiger Sanction has many things in common with Trevanian’s later masterwork Shibumi such as the super-spy trained in martial arts, the secret government-controlled hit squads, and the mountain climbing, the two novels are very different with Shibumi being a more serious work containing various themes contrasting Eastern and Western ideas and an epic-length history of the main character. Eiger Sanction is a much earlier work and more of a Bond-spoof than anything else. In fact, it appears that Trevanian was shocked that so few people recognized Eiger Sanction as a spoof and so many took it seriously. The oddities of the book included a super-spy who didn’t want to work for the CII (a spoof on the CIA) and preferred to collect art and teach college-level art history classes, but lived in a vast compound with an underground art storage facility, that he would be sent out to kill an unknown target and that he would encounter the target in a high-grade mountain climb in Switzerland (the Eiger), and that he would engage in a grudge match with another former agent in a posh mountain climbing training facility while preparing for his not- so-secret expedition. Of course, he is invincible in a fight and irrestible to the ladies. This is an enjoyable read as long as you don’t take it the espionage stuff too seriously. The long treacherous climb up the Eiger is perhaps the apex of this novel and it is worth reading even just for that amazing thrilling step by step climb.