Best Adventures of 1956 (6)
August 2, 2016
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1956 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!
Donald Hamilton’s espionage adventure Assassins Have Starry Eyes (also known as Assignment: Murder).
Before striking gold with his Matt Helm series, Hamilton wrote a couple of thrillers in the mold of Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps and Household’s Rogue Male — that is, they feature highly competent but essentially nonviolent protagonists who unwillingly find themselves involved in assassination plots. Here, James “Greg” Gregory, a Los Alamos mathematician, is shot while out hunting. While recovering in the hospital, another attempt is made on his life — by the would-be assassin’s fiancée, Nina. When another scientist is killed, and Greg’s estranged wife goes missing, he heads into the New Mexico wilderness, allowing himself to be captured. Greg and Nina wind up working together… against domestic saboteurs, traitors, and other villains.
Fun fact: Anthony Boucher called Hamilton’s spy thrillers “as compelling, and probably as close to the sordid truth of espionage, as any now being told.”
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1956 adventures that you particularly admire.