R.W. Clark's Reviews > The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew by Donald Hamilton
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really liked it
bookshelves: pulp-and-mystery

The Wrecking Crew advances the formula with a fumble. Through the first pages/chapters, Helm is relatively unaffected (yeah, normal for the genre) over his wife's choice to divorce him. This is filled in towards the end, but Matt resists introspection (bad for a spy's health). He has much to ponder as partners and acquaintances die like flies along the way, but he reminds himself it serves no purpose at the end of the day.

However, Hamilton has taken a big step away from a lot of baggage in his writing. What remains is still good pulp. What is interesting is the step away from urbanized mystery(The Pink Panther has overtaken that property) and out into the tundra north of the Arctic Circle. The Wrecking Crew also sustains a consistency that has spanned Hamilton's previous spy novels. First: naive young women never survive, and seldom do world-worn ones. Second: their death is tied to the wilderness even if it has to be a park in Stockholm, a flea-bag motel in the desert, or the distant, wooded Chesapeake properties around Washington D.C..

In Death of a Citizen, Hamilton describes Matt Helm as a writer of Westerns. This is reflective of his own authorship in that genre, and an amusing tag put on Helm. Matt, the Western story writer, reflects how simple it is to use Comanches as the universal villain. Hamilton doubles down at Matt's expense in The Wrecking Crew to put Matt into a Stetson and cowboy boots clambering off the train in Stockholm--amusing.

These touches combine here in the grand finale which is staged like an indian attack on the isolated settler's home.

This is not to diminish Hamilton's work. Geoffrey Household did it in Rogue Male back in 1939. I would suggest readers of the Matt Helm series to look into this title. Another author who similarly went into nature to find the dark was John Buchan (Governor General of Canada) with his Richard Hannay series: The 39 Steps.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 31, 2015 – Shelved
October 2, 2016 – Shelved as: pulp-and-mystery

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