NICK CARTER – The Parisian Affair. Ace/Charter paperback original; 1st printing, December 1981.
I was going through of box of paperbacks the other day, a box I’d had in the garage for quite a while. It was time, I thought, that they should not be in the garage any longer. Some I’d sell on Amazon, was the plan, the others I’d donate to the local library.
This was one of them, and since I’d recently read and reviewed a Matt Helm adventure (check it out here), I thought I’d delay the fate of this one and basically read it and compare. The two stories were not the same, of course, but what, I thought, might be the similarities, and the differences between the story-telling.
This Nick Carter tale, to get that out of the way first, has something to do with an assassin, quickly discovered to be female, who is targeting foreign diplomats in Paris, all from underdeveloped countries. Nick’s job: find her.
Well, this established a difference already. Helm’s job in The Interlopers was to infiltrate a gang of Communists and do spy stuff like exchange passwords and pass notes to each other. The scope of Nick Carter’s assigsnment expands to world disaster proportions, politically speaking, real super-spy stuff.
Nick has a boss named Hawk whom he says “sir” to, just like Helm does. He meets a girl — actually several of them — but he goes to bed with only two of them, as I recall, and believe it or not — and this surprised me, too — one of them survives long enough to walk off the stage with Nick when the play is over, or that is to say, when the book is done.
Whether or not this lady shows up in the next book, Chessmaster (January 1982), I do not know. It would be surprised if she does, but I on the other hand was taken aback by the fact that she even made it as far as to the end of this one.
I think that both Matt Helm and Nick Carter are both playing catch-up in each of their separate adventures, but Helm is much more active in pulling the trigger on the bad guys as he runs across them. The Nick Carter adventure is much closer to a detective story than Helm’s, with at least four women coming into play as the possible assassin, three of them beautiful models. The book does take place in Paris, after all, and it’s a large plus that the author seems to know his way around and describes the streets and cafes very well.
Which brings me around to naming the author, not that you’re very likely to have heard of him: H. Edward Hunsburger, who wrote this one Nick Carter novel and one other book under his own name, Death Signs (Walker, hardcover, 1987). It’s a detective story in which a deaf man is murdered, and Mattie Shayne, a teacher for the hearing impaired, helps the police with their investigation.
But I digress. My conclusions? I enjoyed both. The Matt Helm book was better written, I believe, and more realistic, but in some ways, I think the Nick Carter one was more fun to read. Overall, though, I think realism wins out. I’d give Matt Helm a solid “B” and by stretching it a little, Nick Carter gets a “C.”