The Death Bird Contract-Philip Atlee (1966) (Joe Gall Series)

philip atlee-the death bird contract

Fourth entry in the twenty-three book series about a free lance agent for the CIA. He has a unwritten license to kill. This is not a James Bond rip off. Among all the spy stuff that was churned out in what seemed like every minute in the 50’s and 60’s, this is a top series. Joe lives in his five acre estate high in the Ozarks and will get the call that another impossible job is waiting for him. The money is good so why not?

The first book in the series was “Pagoda” in 1951. Atlee got the series into high gear in 1963 with “The Green Wound ” (“The Green Wound Contract”) and wrapped it up in 1976 with “The Makassar Strait Contract.”

Director Neal Pearsall has Joe summoned to Tulsa for an assignment. He’s to look into charges against millionaire Lewis Wardlaw. He’s up to be the next U.S. Undersecretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. Rumors have surfaced that he’s an opium addict. He was back in the war but has been cured. A Doctor who was put into an asylum keeps shouting that Wardlaw is still an addict.

Two agents have been sent to investigate. One is reported to be dead and the other might as well be.  Part of the Wardlaw ranch outfit in Sonora,Mexico is Vincent “Loco ” Sautto. He’s an addict and is now in jail. Joe is told he has to pose as the son of a rich family who is also addicted. Joe has to go to prison to meet with Sautto and convince him that he too is addicted. The only way to do that is actually become an opium and heroin addict. Joe goes to a hospital in Texas where he’s turned into a druggie.

The plan works and Joe ends up in Mexico with Jannina. She was hired by the agency to act as bait for the boys. They get involved with drug parties, clinics and each other.

Overall this is a good series but this specific book is strange in that there’s very little action. Gall has a good sense of sarcasm and that helps move things along. A number of books in the series plod along and then deliver a shocker. It can be a slow ride to the finish but it’s never boring.


About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
This entry was posted in Crime-Mystery-Spy, vintage books and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Death Bird Contract-Philip Atlee (1966) (Joe Gall Series)

  1. The protagonist lives in the Ozarks. Since I live in the Ozarks, this intrigues me-have to look for this book series. Thanks for writing about it.

  2. vintage45 says:

    The Ozark scenes are mostly the same in the series and don’t last too long. They are interesting in how he designed his home. I don’t think the Ozarks ever saw anything quite like Joe Gall’s place.

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