The Baroness #9: Death Is A Copycat, by Paul Kenyon
Undated manuscript, circa 1974
Back in 2012 I did a post on the unpublished volumes of The Baroness; as a recap, there were three installments that never made it to print, one by series newcomer Robert Vardeman and two by main series author Donald Moffitt (who passed away in 2014). Well folks, I’ve managed to get copies of both of Moffit’s unpublished manuscripts: Death Is A Copycat and A Black Hole To Die In. In this post I’ll be reviewing the former, with a review of the latter coming soon.
First of all, I want to confirm that this is not a joke or a hoax or a very late April Fool’s Day prank. These are the legit manuscripts straight from Moffitt’s typewriter, circa 1974 (as dated by internal references in the novel). And as can be seen from the screengrab of the title page above, the print is sometimes a bit faded, making for a difficult read at times. But it goes without saying that I was very thankful to get both these manuscripts; I’ve wondered for years what Moffitt’s two unpublished volumes would be like. And I can say, at least so far as this first of the two goes, that Death Is A Copycat would’ve made for another great installment of the series. It’s certainly better than the volume that would have preceded it, Black Gold.
In my 2012 post I noted that Death Is A Copycat had been published in France, under the title Photo-Phobi, as part of the Penny series, which is what The Baroness was titled in France. I included comments from a reader named Hans Henrik who stated that Photo-Phobi concerned “a three-legged villain named Triskelion” whose plot was “to cause chaos by duplicating the world’s currency.” While the plot of Death Is A Copycat does ultimately concern a villain’s plan to duplicate all the currencies of the world, there’s no character named “Triskelion,” let alone anyone with three legs. My only conclusion is that the French translator took great liberties with Moffitt’s manuscript and basically published his own yarn.
It was a very strange experience reading this 286-page manuscript; often I realized I was one of the very vew people who had even gotten to read it. I would imagine Engel read it (note Engel’s BCI address on the title page; I’ve lined out Moffitt’s phone number), and perhaps the translator in France got a copy. But other than that, this manuscript has sat in storage for the past few decades. As I read it I kept wondering how fans of the day might’ve reacted to such and such a scene, only to remind myself that it had never been published. I also often wondered what sort of cover Hector Garrido would’ve devised for Death Is A Copycat. Ultimately I felt bad for Moffitt, that something as entertaining as this never saw print – it’s proof positive that he had not lost interest in The Baroness, even nine volumes in.
Given all this my review will be a bit more in-depth than usual. Actually my reviews are always too in-depth, but this time I’ll elaborate a bit more and provide excerpts, given the ultra-scarcity of the book in question. One thing to note, though: again referencing the title page, we can see that “Money to Burn” is given as an alternate title, in paranthesis. My assumption is this was Moffitt’s original title for the book, but “Death Is A Copycat” is given the all-caps treatment because that’s the title Engel gave him. Or maybe it was the other way around? I guess we’ll never know.
At any rate, Death Is A Copycat features a memorable opening: Penelope “The Baroness” St. John-Orisini barrelling along the country roads in the Loire Valley of France in a red Ferrari, driving barefoot. At her side is the “improbably handsome” Duc de Chataigne, Hughes, “a big loose-jointed man in his thirties, with clear gray eyes and a mocking smile.” Hughes we’ll recall was introduced in the final pages of Black Gold, and Hans Henrik also mentioned this character was in Photo-Phobi, so at least some of the French translation was faithful to Moffitt’s original manuscript. Penelope, we’re told, is here in France to scout locations for a commercial she’d like to film on Hughes’s chatteau; she met him on the beach, only to discover he owned the entire place, as well as a stretch of the countryside. But the idyllic scene is shattered when a vintage Bugatti Type 57 – painted a garish pink – comes out of nowhere and runs them off the road.
Penny proves her mettle straight away; she gets the Ferrari back on the road and gives chase, ultimately running the Bugatti off the road in revenge. All Penny sees of the occupants is a red-faced man with yellow hair peeking out at them from the oval-shaped window in back of the Bugatti. Later, at a roadside diner, Penny and Huges see the Bugatti drive by – without a scratch or mark on it. But enough of that; from here we get to what the series was known for: hardcore sex. Penny decides that Hughes’s chatteau is too old-fashioned for her; when Hughes mentions that a “nouveau riche” man named Alphonse Pollux has a tawdry chatteau nearby, Penny decides without even seeing it that it will be the place for her commercial. But Hughes refuses to introduce Penny; though he has never met Pollux, Hughes assures Penny that word has it “the man is a boor.” Penny convinces Hughes the best way she can: treating him to an explicity-rendered sexual escapade that goes on for pages. An escapade that caps off with the a rather, uh, memorable usage of the word “splat:”
Meanwhile in a cutaway we see the development of the threat Penny will face…a threat which of course will coincide with her storyline in France. A government employee with traitorous intentions at the US Embassy in Paris sneaks into the copy room in the middle of the night, his goal to make photocopies of incriminating evidence (CIA shenanigans, etc) and send them to the various papers of the world. We’re told in a bit of foreshadowing that new photocopiers have recently been installed – photocopiers made by the Pollux company. We’ll eventually learn that “The Pollux copier is as big in Europe as Xerox is in America.” Then a mysterious figure in a uniform with “Pollux” on it comes in while the copier is running and murders the would-be traitor – a particularly vile murder at that, jamming the photocopied pages down his throat so that he chokes on his own vomit!
Hughes, still fuming over how much of a “swine” Pollux is (even if he’s “the richest man in France”) escorts Penny to Pollux’s Chateau Jumeau, “a lacy fantasy of pink marble.” And yes the “pink” is more foreshadowing, for as expected Pollux is the owner of that garish pink roadster that got in the chase with Penny the day before. Indeed Penny and Hughes see it on the grounds, being repaired; here we have confirmation of when the story is set, as the car is now specified as being “a 1934 Bugatti Type 57,” and earlier we were informed it was “forty years old.” The place is patrolled by guards and an electrified barbed wire fence; Penny suspects something and sneaks off to inspect, leading to a brutal combat scene when she’s attacked by sadistic fieldworkers in Pollux’s vineyards who come after her with bladed tools. Penny kills three men, including a memorable bit where she crushes one guy’s throat – something else Hans Henrik says occurred in Photo-Phobi.
Henrik mentioned the plot of that French “translation” concerned counterfeit money; here in the opening of Moffitt’s manuscript, Pollux is instead stealing secrets and selling them. In typical series fashion, we see the effect on several one-off characters: the US Secretary of State’s secret plan is outed to the press, a research group has their antibody formula stolen, and a firm loses a major contract. In each case a Pollux copier was involved. We soon learn that Pollux, “the duplicating king” who employs “duplicate chauffeurs” (a matching pair of muscle-bound thugs), has implanted his copiers with devices that store everything that’s copied on them. Moffitt gives the villain a suitably Flemingesque appearance:
Penny decides to break into the headquarters of the SDECE, France’s version of the CIA, so as to see what they have on Pollux; this is another of those suspenseful sequences Moffitt does so well, with the Baroness using a host of gadgetry. We see the ever-present Spyder in use, Penny using it to walk up the wall of the building, Batman TV series style. Also this time she actually shoots someone with the Spyder; a guard spots her and Penny does “the only thing possible” and fires the Spyder’s grappling hook into the guy’s gaping mouth. A crazy sequence that even features Penny using a “miniaturized winch” to haul the corpse up a few floors so she can hide it. This sequence also sees more of the series’s patented spy-fy gadgetry in effect, with a pair of “sunglasses” Penny sports to help her see in the dark – a “binocular photon multiplier,” at that.
There’s an almost Russell Smith-esque fascination with corpses this time around; Pollux dispenses of one of his underlings, stabbing out his heart with a machine in his vineyard, and then his twin chaffeurs “stand the corpse up” and hold it there while Pollux laughs uncontrollably. Then later when Penny kills the guard with her Spyder, she goes to elaborate lengths to hide his corpse under a desk in the SDECE building, using a “super-epoxy” to fasten it to the underside; we’re told the hands are especially troublesome, as they keep “flopping down.” After which Penny thinks to herself, “with sudden amusement,” that “the first man tomorrow to tie his shoelace or bend over to pick up a pencil was going to get a surprise.”
There are in fact a lot of gadgets in this SDECE sequence; Penny also uses a “foot of thick twine” which is actually “woven of optical fibers that could transmit light around a 180-degree bend; the glass was a fish-eye lens, optically perfect despite its small size.” Then there’s “the Nose,” which Penny uses after knocking out a guard, taking off his shoes, and wrinkling her own nose at his smelly feet:
And by the way, we’re only 62 pages into the manuscript at this point, with over 200 more pages to go. So it seems pretty clear to me that Moffitt was reinvested in the series after the middling Black Gold; this SDECE sequence alone is more entertaining than the entirety of that previous novel. The Nose is memorably employed to track the footprint-scent of the guard, who has just come from the Records room, so that there’s no “blundering about in these dim corridors” for Penny. The sequence climaxes with Penny (with assistance from Joe Skytop, out in a stolen car) knocking out the electrical grid of this area so that she can swoop into the Records room in the pitch darkness and take photos (with a high-tech camera, naturally) of the SDECE’s “Alphonse Pollux” dossier. But guards with “battery-powered lanterns” suddenly arrive: “The lights went on, and she was standing in front of three dozen Frenchmen in her underwear.”
Of course Penny manages to escape, thanks to yet another new gadget: a mini-rocket fired from the clasp of her black bag which blows a hole in a brick wall so she can plummet down to Skytop, who waits in the stolen car. Soon thereafter Penny assembles her unwieldy team, each of whom are given the usual introduction as they arrive at her suite in Paris. When Sumo and Farnsworth (Penny’s handler, back in New York) review the purloined data of all the European companies that use Pollux copiers, they soon determine that Pollux himself has benefited from the recent swindles – ie the “little French investment firm” that beat the other company on the patent turns out to be owned by Pollux. As are all the other companies that have benefitted from recent industrial upsets. “It’s not our business,” Farnsworth tells Penny. She replies: “Monsieur Pollux scratched my new Ferrari. I’m going to make it my business.”
Moffitt shows eerie prescience in a somewhat-overlong sequence in which electronics wiz Tom Sumo hacks the CIA’s main database; a protracted scenario that has him enacting a high-tech contraption he set up outside the home of the agency’s director years before. Even though it seems clear that Pollux is also involved in “the other kind of espionage,” ie not just industrial-related, Farnsworth insists this is a CIA affair, one they aren’t even supposed to know about. But the Baroness, who by the way is smoking a joint throughout this scene, insists that they will take the job. This is a different setup from the previous volumes, in which the Baroness and team were activated due to a specific threat that had come through Farnsworth.
There’s actually a fair bit of breaking into buildings via unusual gadgetry this time; Penny next infiltrates Pollux’s factory “on the outskirts of Paris” while the villain is having a nighttime meeting with his crime world contacts. There’s also a lot guard-killing, including a bit where Penny kills a guard who “farts” as he dies, “as they often do.” In this break-in Penny uses “The Creeper” (later referred to as “The Crawler” in a mistake Moffitt doesn’t catch in his manuscript): a leg-powered vehicle with “Teflon wheels” that allows her to speed three feet above the road, gliding under parked cars. After this she puts on “mittens” and “booties” with a “time-release solvent” that allow her to climb Spider-Man style up the side of the factory building. Here Penny sees that Pollux has built a giant copying machine – which he uses to chop up yet another underling – but the Baroness is almost caught, leading to a running action scene in which she hurls a few tear gas grenades as the goons try to catch her. And she uses another gadget:
Rivaling the “escape from the orgy turned Mafia massacre” bit in #1: The Ecstasy Connection, this sequence features Penny running “like a deer, stark naked,” through the darkened streets of Pollux’s “25-acre industrial park” – naked because she’s knocked out the man at the guard booth (and also done some nerve damage to his “scrotum”) and then dressed him in her own clothes, to throw off Pollux and the other mobsters. An “unwilling transvestite” who gives Penny the opportunity to run away. And the opportunity to use the Creeper/Crawler again:
Yet even more gadgets are employed in this escape; the Baroness carries a “utility belt” throughout, her only piece of clothing left. First she uses what looks like “a child’s windup toy, a cute tin ladybug with six legs and floppy pads for feet.” This contraption, another made by NASA, hauls Penny up and over a wall via a “glistening string” that she fashions into a harness. This leads to something right out of the Connery Bond films (that is, if Bond was a woman and the film was rated R), as the Baroness uses a mini-rocket to fly away:
Meanwhile the Baroness’s team gets a little share of the narrative: Eric (aka the blond language expert) impersonates a new CIA agent at the US Embassy in Paris, Fiona (aka the redhead sexpot) visits the psychiatrist of the would-be traitor at the Embassy (her story being that she can’t “come” – and Moffitt really piles on the kink factor here), Wharton (aka the blueblooded Green Beret) gets in a fight with yakuza thugs, and finally Yvette (aka the black beauty) features in the longest sequence, going to the tiny town near Marseilles in which Pollux was born 48 years ago and trying to find any info on him. What she finds is that anyone who knew Pollux back then has turned up dead – usually run over by a car. This is by far the most focus Yvette has gotten in the series; she’s captured by a Corsican gangster aligned with Pollux named Andre the Shark, his nickname due to his teeth, which have been filed down like a shark’s.
Hans Henrik also stated that in Photo-Phobi Penny “confines herself to just one lover,” aka Hughes, and that at one point they have “sex in a barrel of vintage wine.” This is also true of Death Is A Copycat, on both counts. Penny and Hughes are invited to dinner on Pollux’s estate, and Penny convinces Hughes to go; Moffitt well captures Hughes’s aristocratic prejudices toward “boor” Pollux. But as a “joke” on the little man they decide to have sex in a barrel of wine Hughes no longer cares for (he has a massive wine cellar, naturally), and then serve that to Pollux at the dinner. Thus they strip and get in the “six hundred gallons of sparkling white wine,” and Penny declares that she can “taste” the wine…through her, uh, nether regions. A sensation that soon extends to both of them:
At Pollux’s dinner that night Penny and Hughes get the answer to the “mystery” of how Pollux’s vintage pink roadster looked unscathed immediately after Penny ran it off the road: he actually has two of them, both put out in front of his chatteau to show off his wealth to his guests – which turn out to just be Penny and Hughes. Also, Pollux reveals that he’s aware it was Penny who ran him off the road; he has cameras in each of his cars, and as it turns out it is a “game” for him to run cars off the road and keep a running score! Moffitt really attains a Fleming vibe here, only inverted; Pollux goes over the top with dinner in a gauche way, with the Baroness and Hugh secretly amused at his pathetic attempts at seeming aristocratic. The humor is almost too pronounced; Pollux reveals he has two of everything, including chefs, and that they constantly fight, with even a pair of wrestlers to keep them separated. It gets even goofier:
The “joke” of Pollux drinking the wine Penny and Hughes had sex in doesn’t get exploited very much; Penny and Hughes watch as Pollux makes “quite a production” of swilling it around in his glass, then he sips it and declares it a “fine, unpretentious little wine…perfectly adequate to the occasion.” After dinner Penny is granted a tour of Pollux’s chatteau; when the thug escorting her warns there are areas she must stay out of, Penny of course knocks him out and goes investigating. She finds a massive copier here, bigger than the one at the factory, and it appears to be making copies of various currencies. This leads to another action sequence in which the Baroness kills more guards and unveils yet another gadget: a dress that transforms into “a graceful bat-like sail – a hang-glider.” On the grounds Penny discovers that Pollux has “all the money in the world:” acres and acres of paper currency, baled and stacked. A quick check confirms it all looks as real as the real thing – even the serial numbers are consecutive, and not repetitions as they’d be in the average counterfeit.
In previous Baroness reviews I’ve complained how Penny was often being saved by her team. It seems that Moffitt himself must’ve realized this, as in Death Is A Copycat it’s as if he goes out of his way to put Penny in dangerous scrapes and have her get out of them via her own devices. As here; she is surrounded by around 500 of Pollux’s men – the army made up of mobsters from around the world – and she takes one of them hostage, an older Mafioso named Papa Ugo. Penny, clad only in a halter top and “black bikini panties,” forms a sort of conga line with her gun to Papa’s head, adding more and more people to the line as she tries to escape. But she’s caught, leading to some brutal hand-to-hand combat:
It gets more brutal, with Penny ripping off Papa’s prosthetic arm (complete with hooked hand) and slicing and dicing thugs with it. However Penny is ultimately captured by Pollux, leading to a sequence that is the closest The Baroness has ever come to sweat mag territory. Penny, now clad only in the bikini bottom, is trussed up in a frame sort of contraption, her arms and legs chained, suspended facedown a foot above the ground. Pollux, claiming he will soon “own” Penny, pulls off her panties and proceeds to have his first “taste” of her, attempting to prod at her private regions. But Penny thrashes so much to evade him that she breaks the framework and lands on the ground. So Pollux brings out Hughes and has his little finger cut off to convince Penny. Our heroine relents, promising she will not put up a fight while the villain has his way with her.
Moffitt skillfully plays this sequence out, even finding the opportunity to again compare and contrast Pollux’s “boorish” nature and Hughes’s true aristocracy. The French duke remains silent as his finger is sawed off, and tells Penny not to give in. But this turns out to be Penny’s “price,” something which Pollux assures her everyone has – Penny will indeed have sex with Pollux in exchange for no more damage to Hughes. Just as Pollux is demanding that Penny go down on him, to “prime the pump,” an explosion shatters the courtyard. Initially I thought, “Well, here comes the team to save her, after all,” but instead it’s due to the arrival of the Russians, who had their own spy in Pollux’s ranks and are now here to steal all the counterfeit money – which, by the way, Pollux intends to destroy civilization with. He’s made an exact duplicate of every bill of denomination in every single major currency, and the counterfeit currency will be offloaded by the crime syndicates he’s made deals with in various countries.
A series motif is Penny being nude for the climax, or most of it, and the same happens here, with her running fully naked around Pollux’s grounds while the Russians and the mob fight one another. Penny’s able to get back to Hughes’s nearby chatteau, to call in her team for reinforcements and to put on some clothes. Moffitt doesn’t dress her in the black catsuit she often wore in the series (and wore on all the covers) – though she does wear the catsuit in the sequence where she breaks in the SDECE building. Here in the finale she wears:
This leads to an action climax in which Penny and team, in three vehicles, race through the three hundred acres of Pollux’s chatteau and blast away at the Russians and various mobsters. Throughout Penny is armed with a Galil submachine gun. I found this part a little anticlimactic, as it’s just Penny and the others randomly gunning down any enemy soldiers they come upon. Which is to say, there’s no “emotional content” to it (to quote Bruce Lee). It’s just Penny and her team trying to kill everyone before any of them can get hold of the counterfeit currency. The most memorable image here is Joe Skytop on top of a jeep firing a “movie camera,” which is really an automatic cannon.
Here we also have a surprise appearance from Alexy, the GRU commando Penny got cozy with in #3: Death Is A Ruby Light. He’s part of the Russian army taking on the Syndicate, and talks surrender with Penny after she and her team have blasted everyone apart with their superior firepower and routed the various mobsters:
Penny allows him to escape with some of the counterfeit Chinese currency; Alexey claims “I know your employers will be pleased at the way we’re going to use it.” And then he’s gone; all told, he appears in the book for a mere page, but it’s a nice shout-out to a previous yarn. Penny’s team fashions an explosive to wipe out the rest of the fake money, however Penny allows Paul and Fiona to sneak off with a couple bales: “What were a few million, more or less?” The Baroness and team watch as the acres of money burn – ie, the “money to burn” of Moffitt’s alternate title.
But the finale is a bit unfocused; whereas you’d figure this attack on Pollux’s chatteau would be the climax, instead Penny again sends her team off on separate missions – one group to blast one of Pollux’s supertankers, before it can make off with any of the counterfeit currency that had already been taken away, and the other group to go find out what happened to Yvette. So we have in the one sequence Skytop, Wharton, Eric, Inga, and Fiona in a helicopter shooting at the supertanker, then diving into the ocean in scuba gear to plant explosives.
In the other sequence Sumo and Paul go to save Yvette, who by the way has been tortured and raped this entire time…! This part’s real sweat mag territory, with the poor girl trussed up and beaten so badly that one eye has swollen shut and her breasts have been used as a pin cushion. However she hasn’t talked; the implication is clear that all of the Baroness’s team are as tough as the Baroness herself. And speaking of which, Tom Sumo – aka the nerdy “electronics guy,” here turns out to be a veritable superman, thanks to his knowledge of the martial arts:
The humor here is pretty dark; Andre the Shark is threatening to cut Yvette’s nose off with a straight razor when Sumo and Paul arrive on the scene. In the melee the two make quick work of the Corsican thugs, using their hands and feet (and in Sumo’s case, a camera). Moffitt tries to gloss over Yvette’s grim condition with a jokey reveal:
Yvette has discovered what has become increasingly apparent as the novel’s went on. SPOILER here, but I figured I should be as comprehensive as possible given the unpublished nature of the manuscript. I didn’t find Pollux to be the most memorable villain of the series, but Moffitt has skillfully created him and his plot with subtextual layers. Hence, Pollux is the “duplicate king” who has two of everything and who has made his fortune via copying machines. Yet he’s also a “fake” in that he’s from hardscrabble roots and is desperate to come off like the aristocracy which has spurned him. And the fake nature extends to his plan for counterfeit currency. But given how there are two of everything in Pollux’s world, it would of course pan out that there are actually two of Pollux – as Yvette discovers, Alphonse and Felix Pollux were siamese twins born during WWII, surgically separated at age 9, but have continued to secretly act as the same person all these years.
Penny herself finds this out after she’s already dealt with one of the brothers; a memorable sendoff in which she slams both feet into his chest while riding down the bannister of a double helix spiral staircase in Pollux’s chatteau. This occurs before the big “mob versus Russians” action sequence, throughout which Penny is under the assumption Pollux is dead. But then she gets a glimpse of the man on the battlefield. She wonders if it was her imagination, but when she is investigating his grounds after the battle – once her team has dispersed on their dual missions – Penny is caught unawares by the surviving Pollux, Alphonse. He holds a gun on her and forces her to carry several bales of newly-printed counterfeit currency which he plans to use to start over again. But fittingly he ends up in his own contraption:
Death Is A Copycat ends soon after, with Penny finding Hughes asleep on one of the beds in Pollux’s chatteau – a bed with a “100,000-franc bedspread that had belonged to Marie Antoinette.” Hughes says he won’t miss his little finger at all: “There are very few things in life that one uses a little finger for.” But Penny has other intentions, as she climbs in bed with him for the final moments of the book:
The “explosion,” by the way, is the giant copier Pollux just died in; Penny set it to blow. Also it’s interesting that Hughes is here in the finale of the book, same as he was in Black Gold. This would make him the most, uh, long-lasting of Penny’s lovers. I’m curious to see if he’ll appear in A Black Hole To Die In as well, but I suspect this will be it for him. Also, there’s no part where Penny explains to Hughes who she really is; her running around Pollux’s grounds and fighting and killing people is just taken at face value, and Hughes never once asks her if she’s like a spy or something. But it would be clear to him at this point that Penny isn’t just a jet-setting cover model.
As promised, I went into great detail in this “review,” which was really more of a blow-by-blow account of the book. But really that’s what I wanted it to be, given that it’s hard to review something that’s never been published. I don’t know if this was Moffitt’s final draft – as seen in the screengrabs above, it was clearly his second draft at least, given the lined-out corrections – but it would appear to be the only surviving draft. But then Moffitt was a contract writer working to deadline, so I’m assuming he didn’t have the luxury of multiple drafts. Given this, I’m figuring this manuscript was his completed and submitted draft of Death Is A Copycat, and likely was the draft that made its way to France for translation…a translation which sounds like it had elements that were not in Moffitt’s manuscript.
I’m also assuming the manuscript was written in 1974. I know from Len Levinson that it took “about a year” for his own manuscripts to see print in paperback in the ‘70s, and given that The Baroness was cancelled after Black Gold, which was published in February 1975, I’m assuming Moffitt had to write this a few months earlier than that at least. In other words, he probably got word the series was cancelled in early ’75; maybe Dell let editor Lyle Kenyon Engel know that Black Gold would be the last one (hence that title being more scarce than others in the series – it received a lower print run). What I’m trying to say is, Moffitt wouldn’t have written this manuscript if he knew the series was about to be cancelled, which leads me to conclude that he wrote it sometime in mid to late 1974, going on to write A Black Hole To Die In soon thereafter.
I really did enjoy this one; it had everything that was great about the series. I also appreciated how Moffitt took a few risks with his template; I liked how this time Penny was the initiator of the assignment, and also I noticed that for once we didn’t get the digressive recap on how she got into the whole “Coin” game. I also appreciated how Moffitt was able to employ Penny’s team a bit more, so they didn’t come off like the cumbersome nuissances of past volumes – if I recall correctly, Moffitt stated in an interview with ppsantos on the Baroness Yahoo Group that the “team” setup was specifically requested by Dell, and that he himself had a hard time with it.
Again, it’s a shame this volume was never published, as I think it might’ve become a fan favorite. It lacks the globe-trotting nature of previous installments – and the graphic sex is somewhat reduced, with only two fairly-explicit sequences – but it more than makes up for it with a plethora of imaginative gadgets and scenarios. I also like how Pollux’s nature was worked into his fiendish plot; that alone was downright Flemingesque. As I wrote above, Death Is A Copycat makes it clear that Moffitt was still invested in the series and the lackluster Black Gold was just a fluke.
Usually I take about a year or so between installments of a series, but in this case I’ll be reading and reviewing A Black Hole to Die In soon, probably within the next few weeks. I’m definitely looking forward to that one, especially given how entertaining this one was – and I was very thankful for the chance to read it.