the 46th in my review series of “forgotten” books
by Edward S. Aarons, Gold Medal #971, © 1957, this 2nd ed. 1960, pb, spy – Sam Durell
“The war that Durell fought was not one that rang with bugles or trembled to the beat of drums. It was dark and silent, fought with nerve and skill; the war of espionage; and it’s battlefield was only too often the dirty streets and black slum alleys of far-away corners of the troubled world.”
I pulled this one off the shelf a while ago, one of several of Aaron’s Sam Durell books I’d found in a great used book shop that’s now sadly gone.
I’d not read one of these before. Bill Crider said of the Durell books “Those Assignment books are pretty uneven, but some of them are pretty darned good. Aarons was really good at local color.”
That Aarons is good at local color is abundantly apparent in this book. If the series is uneven then this may be one of the better ones. Based on the plot it follows Assignment: Stella Marni in the series sequence.
It takes place not long after the October Revolution in Hungary. Bela Korvuth is a Hungarian super assassin who has come to the U.S. to kill two people: one is a nuclear scientist, the other is Sam Durell, the U.S agent most feared by Korvuth’s Russian masters. Secondary plot elements involve Diedrde Padgett, Durell’s paramour, and Illona, an agent who entered the country as part of Korvuth’s team but turns near the beginning of the book (that’s not really a spoiler, it happens the second time we meet the character). The story begins in New Jersey but moves to Hungary for much of the action and finishes with Durell’s return to the U.S.
Aarons is no LeCarre, but this is not a bad spy story. I wouldn’t make a steady diet of these but now and then would be just fine.
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