North was a combination Saint, Toff and other debonair heroes. He started life as a Captain of G-2, Military Intelligence. “The Seeds Of Murder” (1930) is the first in the series. The chicks dig him and he’s not afraid to mix it up with the bad guys. He moved around the world from Shanghai, Budapest,the Himalayas and Zanzibar. The early books were murder mystery oriented since he worked for G-2′s Criminal Investigations Division. The series took an espionage turn after World War II. That doesn’t mean the quality suffered. It’s a great series.
The last book. “The Deadly Orbit Mission” was published in 1968. In that one it looked like World War III was on its way.An out of control Soviet satellite with a nuclear warhead is orbiting the Earth. They have to join forces with the Pentagon to control it or blow it up. North does battle with Chinese agents trying to stop the effort.
One thing to beware…..several of the early books were rewritten and should be avoided. Stick with the originals. For example, “The Sulu Sea Murders” from 1933 was rewritten in 1959, losing all of that 30′s flavor.
This is the seventeenth entry in the series. Major North is pulled from an assignment looking into arms shipments and recalled to Brazil. On the train he meets Paula Harte. Due to a conductor’s mistake they end up sharing a compartment.
She’s a mysterious blonde and North remembers seeing her picture on the desk of Captain Stuart Maitland. He’s the U.S.Embassy’s Junior Military Attache and the man who recalled him. She remembers seeing North leaving the proving grounds of the company he was investigating.
When North wakes up from a brief snooze he sees Paula get up, pull the emergency cord and climb out the window. Her skirt snags but he helps her leave. Then the cops show up and he says he doesn’t know where she is. At the station he’s met by Maitland and Edward Prescott, First Secretary to the U.S.Embassy.
Prescott says they’ve received some cables from an agent about a freighter carrying refugees. Also aboard may be Gestapo members headed for Brazil with enough gold and arms to start a revolution. North is assigned to find the ship.
He goes to a shipping magnet to help trace it. North asks him to arrange a black tie party with the guests including some local Nazis. Also on hand will be Aurora, the magnate’s Carmen Miranda looking niece.
That afternoon someone tries to kill North by tossing a knife at him. It grazes him but ends up on the side of a moving bus. No one notices in the confusion of Carnival.
That night at the party Paula is there. Also attending is her boss, an arms manufacturer, Dr.Rupp the local Nazi and a Japanese who was once North’s tennis partner. Things are going well until….Paula’s boss collapses and dies. It’s murder.
The book occurs before Pearl Harbor and is one of the better pre-WWII espionage novels and another good entry in the series.