Matt Helm Books in Order: How to read Donald Hamilton’s Series?

Matt Helm Books in Order

The ageless spy played by Dean Martin…

Who is Matt Helm?

Written by American author Donald Hamilton, the Matt Helm series, published between 1960 and 1993, is about a U.S. government counter-agent.

Considered grittier and more realistic than the James Bond series, the Matt Helm novels are not like other ordinary spy thrillers, the primary job Helm being to eliminate enemy agents and he is really competent at it.

Matt Helm Books in Order:

Death of a Citizen Matt Helm Books in Order The Wrecking Crew Matt Helm Books in Order The Removers Matt Helm Books in Order The Silencers Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. Death of a Citizen – Matt Helm, one-time special agent for the American government during the Second World War, has left behind his violent past to raise a family in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When a former colleague turns rogue and kidnaps his daughter, Helm is forced to return to his former life as a deadly and relentless assassin.
  2. The Wrecking Crew – Matt Helm, code name Eric, has been recently reactivated as an operative for a secret American government organization after 15 years as a sedentary photographer and family man in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In his first assignment after returning to the service, he is sent to Sweden to eliminate Caselius, a long-time enemy agent. In order to do so, he must leave a trail of bodies in his wake.
  3. The Removers – A year after having been reactivated, Matt Helm receives a message from his ex-wife, asking for his aid. The threat is an enemy agent named Martel, disguised as a mob hitman. To protect his family, Helm must “remove” the threat before his own children pay the ultimate price.
  4. The Silencers – Helm is sent to extract a female agent working as a stripper in a bar in Mexico. When she is killed before Helm can complete his mission to extract her, he finds himself teamed up with the woman’s sister as he fights to save the lives of a group of scientists and American officials. Perhaps the most famous of the titles, due to the Dean Martin film of the same name, but where the movies were tongue-in-cheek, the novels are breathtakingly brutal.

 The Ambushers Matt Helm Books in Order The Shadowers Matt Helm Books in Order The Ravagers Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. Murderers’ Row – The department is concerned about professional assassin and counter-agent Matt Helm. Having been given a distasteful assignment – assaulting a fellow agent in order to establish her cover in an top-secret operation – the woman is now dead. Alone in Chesapeake Bay, and pursued by his own government, Helm must complete the dead agent’s assignment and assassinate an enemy operative. Unless his employers get to him first…
  2. The Ambushers – After carrying out a deadly assignment for a foreign nation, Matt Helm can unwind by tracking down a Nazi who doesn’t know the war is over, and who has plans for a Russian missile smuggled out of Cuba, plans that don’t look good for the United States.
  3. The Shadowers – In order to foil a mass assassination plot, Matt Helm must undertake his most dangerous mission: matrimony. An agent like Helm might be a nice man to live with for a while, be he’s not the kind a woman would marry. Unless she has too. Unless it’s all part of maintaining an ingenious cover. The man whose daily bread is violence takes a most unlikely bride – just to make sure death doesn’t part them.
  4. The Ravagers – It was not a peaceful way to die, but there was nothing Matt Helm could do for his fellow agent. He had found him in a Canadian motel room, his once-handsome face eaten away, corroded by acid. Scratch one agent. The women wouldn’t be lining up for him now. But it created further problems. The most likely culprit was a woman Helm had orders to protect– no matter what the cost.

The Devastators Matt Helm Books in Order The Betrayers Matt Helm Books in Order The Menacers Matt Helm Books in Order The Interlopers Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. The Devastators – On a lonely heath in northern Scotland they recovered the body of the third agent sent to complete a tricky mission. He had died from bubonic plague. Somewhere on the moors was a half-crazed scientific genius who could kill millions, and it was Helm’s job to get him, with the help of a beautiful American operative and a deadly Russian one.
  2. The Betrayers – Matt Helm finds himself in Hawaii, trying to unhatch a plot of unrivalled viciousness. When an agent turns bad, nobody’s business is private anymore, and when that agent decides to start a war, someone has to finish him—fast. Between the rogue agent and the stranger who insists she is his sister-in-law, this won’t be a relaxing Pacific holiday.
  3. The Menacers – Matt Helm is puzzled. He’s been sent to Mexico to investigate the sighting of a flying saucer, but Helm doesn’t believe in little green men. Then his Russian opposite number is shot in her hotel, but who did it? And why are the Mexican cops acting so tough? Time to track down the redhead who called in the sighting and get to the bottom of the case.
  4. The Interlopers – This time Mac has gone too far. For Helm to impersonate a Communist courier to whom he bears no resemblance is suicide, and that isn’t all. Someone wants to get the layout of the Alaskan North-west Coastal Defence System, but they aren’t the good guys or the bad guys. So who the hell are they? And who is the mysterious Holz that Helm is meant to kill?

The Poisoners Matt Helm Books in Order The Intriguers Matt Helm Books in Order The Intimidators Matt Helm Books in Order The Terminators Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. The Poisoners – When Matt Helm is dispatched to Los Angeles to investigate the shooting of an agent, it wasn’t just an assignment—it was personal. To get the answers he wants means run-ins with two-bit hoods, a trio of beautiful women, a bunch of drug traffickers, and his old friend Mr Soo, whose government has ideas about polluting America to death…
  2. The Intriguers – Matt Helm is on vacation in Mexico with nothing on his mind except fishing, when some joker tries to shoot him in the back. Naturally it was no accident. When secret agents get shot at, it never is. So Helm has to go back to work. At least there’s a bonus in the form of his boss’s beautiful daughter, a playmate in peril.
  3. The Intimidators – It was a double mission this time. Firstly, to terminate a top-notch enemy agent. Secondly, to locate the missing fiancée of a Texas oil millionaire, lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Somehow these two cases were connected, but it wasn’t clear how until more high-profile types disappeared. They weren’t dead, just part of a deadly little game…
  4. The Terminators – When the big man in Washington assigned Matt Helm to ride shotgun on a top secret mission in Norway, Helm wanted to know why. But this was a need-to-know deal, at least until his partner—a woman posing as his mistress—was killed. Now Helm is mad, mad enough to blow the operation sky high.

The Retaliators Matt Helm Books in Order The Terrorizers Matt Helm Books in Order The Revengers Matt Helm Books in Order The Annihilators Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. The Retaliators – Matt Helm is unexpectedly rich, and he doesn’t like it. Twenty thousand mysterious dollars appear in his bank account, but this is no time for celebration. Another secret agent with an unexplained surplus is murdered, and Helm figures he better work out who his “benefactor” is before he becomes the next target.
  2. The Terrorizers – The survivor of a plane crash wakes up in a hospital in Canada, his memory a blank. Then in walks Kitty, a gorgeous woman, who tells him that he is Paul Madden, a photographer, and her fiancé. Not bad. Except that a man on the phone keeps calling him Matt Helm. Things don’t add up. This can only mean trouble…
  3. The Revengers – At a funeral of an old friend, Matt Helm takes a trip down memory lane and sparks a romance that he thought was safely locked in the past. But with old feelings resurfacing, other things Helm thought were buried are coming back to haunt him – a small-time hood in Mexico, a dirty drug deal, and a string of women that lead him into dangerous territory.
  4. The Annihilators – Matt Helm has got a good thing going with Elly. So a terrorist outfit really have picked the wrong woman when they kidnap her in order to leverage Matt into carrying out an assassination. Now, Helm finds himself in Costa Verde with one thing on his mind: revenge…

The Infiltrators Matt Helm Books in Order The Detonators Matt Helm Books in Order The Vanishers Matt Helm Books in Order The Demolishers Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. The Infiltrators – Beautiful, intelligent, fresh out of prison– Madeleine Ellershaw is Matt Helm’s latest case. Madeleine may have been imprisoned as a spy, but Helm soon realizes that her story isn’t so simple. He’s got to figure out why she took the rap for her husband nine years ago, what secrets are hiding in her past, and, most difficult of all: keep her alive.
  2. The Detonators – A prim young lady needs a favor: help her father beat a bum drug rap. But when Dad’s boat detonates outside Miami Harbor, Matt discovers that young Amy isn’t as innocent as she looks. Lured to the Bahamas, he will discover an unlikely pack of fanatics hatching an explosive plan, and that daddy’s little girl is surprisingly deadly.
  3. The Vanishers – People are vanishing without a trace. And the disappearances are getting closer to home – the next likely target is Mac, Matt Helm’s shrewd old boss. To get to the bottom of the mystery, Helm follows two beguiling and treacherous women, who lead him all the way to his ancestral home – Scandinavia. With a coup from within the agency, and a terrorist threat from without, it’s clear that nobody can be trusted.
  4. The Demolishers – Matt Helm was aware of Bultman – a legendary assassin, the leader of a group of fanatical revolutionaries, an ambitious criminal – but he had no business with taking him down. Until now. Bultman blew up a restaurant on the Florida coast full of innocent people, including Helm’s son. Now, it’s very personal.

The Frighteners Matt Helm Books in Order The Threateners Matt Helm Books in Order The Damagers Matt Helm Books in Order

  1. The Frighteners – No mission fazes Matt Helm, not even this one—to pose as an oil-rich Texas groom to a bride half his age. The aim: to pick up the trail of an illicit arms shipment in Mexico. If Matt fails, the country could burn in the inferno of revolution, right at America’s doorstep. And he doesn’t know that he’s not only the point man, he’s the number one target…
  2. The Threateners – A ruthless South American drug lord has a plan to bring the United States to its knees. A group of renegade American agents has plans to smash the kingpin and his cartel, by any means necessary. Caught in the middle, Matt Helm’s got to do double duty to stop them both, and to protect a woman with information both sides would kill for…
  3. The Damagers – Take a gorgeous companion for a leisurely sail on a beautiful yacht. Sounds like easy duty for Matt Helm⎯except that the last three captains of the yacht died under mysterious circumstances. Matt will tangle with a crew of dangerous women, a terrorist squad, and an elite organization of death-dealing specialists. He had better be ready⎯if he wants to stay alive.

4 thoughts on “Matt Helm Books in Order: How to read Donald Hamilton’s Series?”

  1. I’ve been a Matt Helm fan (the books, not the movies) since I was 11 years old, when I came across ‘Death of a Citizen’ and ‘The Wrecking Crew’ for the very first time in my life. I remember I couldn’t understand them well –of course, I had the mind of an 11-year old back then– but even though these novels were written for a strictly adult audience, there was a charm to Mr. Hamilton’s first person narrative that really got you hooked and plunged the reader head on into his stories… So I hung on to them, and kept on buying the books throughout the years every chance I had. I finally managed to own the entire collection. Well, I just turned 61 years old last November and I still read those books over and over again every year that goes by and I still enjoy them as the very first time, even more now that I fully understand and appreciate, Donald Hamilton’s talent and first-hand knowledge about the the counterintelligence trade and handling of weapons. It’s obvious he truly knew what he was writing about. One thing I must say, and I told Mr. Hamilton himself in one of my fan letters to him before his passing away, the the first 16 novels are his best. Especially his first 10 when secret agent Eric was a product of the 60’s and the 70’s, and the books were more agile and written in a ‘mean and lean’ style that really left the reader yearning for more at the end. This changed in the 1980’s, when the publishers started demanding lengthier novels for original paperbacks, and Helm’s books started to sag at times plagued with duck hunting and fishing scenes and dog kennels, etc. The best 3 books of the series are –in my opinion– also the first three: ‘Death of a Citizen’, ‘The Wrecking Crew’, and (my favorite) ‘The Removers’ –a truly excellent and exciting read.
    But all in all, they are all great, and the best Spy book collection ever written in the Spy genre. Donald Hamilton, even today, does not have a worthy rival in his trade, he (like Matt Helm, alias Eric) remains unbeaten even after death. Not even Ian Fleming ever came close with his great 007 novels.

  2. His final book, The Dominators, was completed around 2002 but Hamilton was 86 yrs old and wasn’t happy with it so he was revising it, slowly. However he died before he could complete it and as of today it still hasn’t been published. It is now property of the UCLA Library… Guess you could go there and read it,

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