First in the twenty-0ne book series about Phil Sherman. The last published was 1978’s “The Stausser Transfer.” Sherman is an American businessman living in Paris. His business sells electronics including computers. He doesn’t become a full fledged CIA agent until late in the series.
In this opener he’s approached by a man from an agency so secret no one knows about it. It’s the U.S. Anti-Nuclear Section. Phil has a grudge against the Chinese. His brother died from his wounds in the Korean war that weren’t treated properly in a POW camp and before that Phil was tossed out of China by Mao and left with nothing. His Chinese partner was arrested and killed.
A man calling himself George Stratton makes him an offer. He’ll give him authorization from the State Department to legally sell a computer to Czechoslovakia with its ultimate desination a nuke plant in China.The computer is programmed to explode and take the facility with it.
The deal is done and everything worked out until……A problem developed and now Phil has to go to China and get it working again. His contact is a friendly scientist named Chang. His minder is a beatiful babe (What other kind are there for agents?) named Sunyan.
Of course they get it on in his room. Phil gets real suspicious when he discovers a miniature camera in the hem of her tunic. While inspecting the computer he discovers the trigger is missing. He can’t get a hold of Chang. He thinks he knows what’s going on and gets Sunyan and tells her he needs to go outside the walls.
That takes some doing but he manages to get out. He doesn’t tell her why as they take off. He steals a couple bikes to get even further away. Then…..the explosion. Chang must have put the trigger back and sacrificed himself. Now Phil has to escape China after the atomic explosion. He also admits everything to Sunyan and tells her he wants to take her back to Paris.
This is a pretty good series and even though a lot were published in a ten year period this is not a quickie wall to wall action presentation that flies by. That doesn’t mean it’s dull. There are good action sequences and it all adds up to a good read for spy fans.