Friday, 9 December 2016
BOOK REVIEW: THE INFILTRATORS BY DONALD HAMILTON
The Infiltrators: A Matt Helm Novel by Donald Hamilton
As we saw in The Detonators before, Matt Helm has to deal with people he knows in a personal way. Here he wants Madeline Ellershaw to help him in a case he might not be able to solve without her. Matt remembers the young woman she used to be over ten years ago, bright, happy, a successful lawyer after passing her bar but Madeline who had been ready for a career she had waited so long for ended up in jail for a crime she might not have helped commit.
Back then, Matt had asked her out to dinner and he'd hoped for a relationship, but her recent spell in jail has tainted her against men and anyone else who tries to help her. What Matt really wants to know is why she threw her career away to protect her husband who he thought was a slime ball who was having an affair behind her back.
Madeline has changed a lot since those days when he'd wanted to date her, proving life behind bars has hurt her deeply, in an emotional and mental way. Matt has to remain professional at all times while he's having her help him in his investigation, but he can sense his regret in the way he talks to her. As far as relationships go, Madeline was in love with her husband, though he believes someone killed him as he would never have left her alone the day he died. Madeline may look like a broken woman from years of being in prison, but she still has a fiery spirit and the same arrogance he remembered that one time they had met. What did make a difference to the case was that there was the belief that Madeline's husband had been making secret formulas for the Russians.
All the way, Madeline maintains she is innocent, yet the evidence against her proved different, that she was guilty . There were four pieces of evidence that would leave no doubt she had plenty to do with her husband's dealings. Matt finds it unusual that Madeline refused to mention a Communist woman, Bella Kraveki could have been having an affair with her husband when it is likely that he was.
At first Madeline starts out loathing Matt as she has been incarcerated for so long, she isn't used to being treat with any respect and sees his kindness as patronizing. As we have all seen in Mills & Boon Regency novels, the heroine first dislikes the man she's supposed to like or even fall in love with, then later falls for him anyway. I saw a little of that here with Matt trying his best to get her to see his point of view about how the case looked from the authorities point of view. They could have easily thought they were guilty, but now Matt was there to help out and prove them wrong.
To be honest, if Madeline was guilty, the book might not have been written, so the story as Donald writes it has us strung along, waiting for a series of very satisfying reveals about Madeline and her husband that tell us these novels are different from any Bond or Clancy, Matt Helm understands women in a way Bond never did, he's charming, witty and packs a mean punch like Jason Statham.