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Francis van Wyck Mason introduced his hero, Colonel Hugh North (then a Captain) of the U. S. Army Intelligence Division (G-2), in The Seeds of Murder in 1930 and he was still going strong in 1960, when Secret Mission to Bangkok was published. Colonel North is a somewhat parallel figure to Mike Hammer, only in the spy genre rather than private eye. A two-fisted anti-Communist and an unambiguously pro-American hero. The books are, inevitably, somewhat dated, but that's part of what makes them so well worth revisiting. Authors like van Wyck Mason and Mickey Spillane were, after all, mainstream bestsellers with their patriotic fictions--the yellowed edition of Bangkok I have even has a cover blurb from the NY Times. Hollywood and the media would have us believe the country was terribly conflicted about the Cold War and the House Un-American Activities Committee and the like, but you find rather little self-doubt in the popular culture of the day.

At any rate, in this installment of the Colonel North series our hero is sent to surreptitiously protect a leading German rocket scientist, Dr. Hans Bracht, who escaped the Nazis and come to work for the U.S.. The doctor's pretty young Asian wife has been kidnapped and he's been told to come to Bangkok alone, but North is on the case. Complicating matters are a Soviet official who looks like Stalin, a French drug addict, a shady Chinese hotel owner and a film company, including seductive actresses and burned-out former stars, headed out to film an epic on location. All is set against the backdrop of rising unrest in French Indochina. Fear not though, with the help of a Thai police officer who's modeled himself after the private dicks of pulp fiction, Colonel North brings things to a satisfying conclusion.


Grade: (B+)


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Francis van Wyck Mason Links:

    -F. Van Wyck Mason (Wikipedia)

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