|Vintage Pulp||Jun 3 2020|
Look at my face. Does this look like the face of someone who thinks you're charming or interesting?
This edition of Assignment to Disaster by Edward S. Aarons has a highly successful piece of cover art. In fact, this beautiful depiction of a red-haired femme fatale rendered in almost comic-book style is the only reason we acquired the novel. It's uncredited, which is criminal, in our view. We immediately checked online for info, but none was forthcoming. Failing to identify the artist, we went ahead and read the story, and what you get here is a U.S. plan to orbit a superweapon, a warhead-packed nuclear missile that orbits the Earth and is always ready to rain fire upon the Soviet Union. The frankly hilarious hope is that having such a strategic advantage will bring peace. Um... just like it did with gunpowder and the machine gun and the H-bomb, right? Right.
Anyway, the weapon, named Cyclops, is set to be orbited, but a plot is uncovered to insert bogus launch equations and cause the missile to crash, probably on a U.S. city. CIA agent Sam Durell is sent to stop the bad guys. Along the way he encounters a beautiful damsel in distress, a more beautiful femme fatale, returns to his childhood home, and gets chased and pummeled a lot. Ultimately, the book is fine, with thankfully little Cold War propaganda, and a focus on sheer action. It was published in 1955 and was the first of a Durell series that ran to an amazing forty-eight entries. That fact alone should tell you that Assignment to Disaster gets the job done. Is it special? No. Is it worthwhile? For sure. We'll move on to the next adventure at some point and report back.