Friday, December 7, 2012


I finished reading ASSIGNMENT: THE CAIRO DANCERS (1965) by Edward S. Aarons yesterday. The book is one of the "Assignment" series Aarons wrote starring CIA agent Sam "Cajun" Durell. This long running series (begun in the '50s and finishing in the '80s), was published as paperback originals by Fawcett Gold Medal books.
Sam Durell works for K Section of the CIA. His boss is General McFee who assigns Durell to missions all over the world. Durell globe trots to exotic locales, encounters the requisite beautiful women and evil villains and handles everything with a tough, no-nonsense approach and no high-tech spy-gadgets. The books are tight, fast paced and well plotted. The action moves swiftly and Aarons imbues the stories with a strong sense of place, some nice turns of phrase and good characterization during the course of the adventures.
The Durell "Assignment" series was never picked up by Hollywood for either feature films or as fodder for a weekly television series. The adventures exist only in book form and I've read several of them over the past ten or so years. They're not great literature, but they're fun, quick reads which perfectly capture the Cold War era.
In ASSIGNMENT: THE CAIRO DANCERS, top scientists from many nations have gone missing. One of them is an ex-Nazi (or is he?) expert in the newly emerging laser technology. He's disappeared from Germany where he was betrayed by his daughter. Turns out the scientist is in the hands of The Cairo Dancers, a murderous secret organization that is forcing the captured scientists to construct the ultimate weapon.
The action moves from the beer halls of Munich to the Middle East with an exciting climax in a mountain-top fortress in the Sinai desert where the Dancers plan to unleash a death ray against both Egypt and Israel in an attempt to launch World War III.
ASSIGNMENT: THE CAIRO DANCERS is good, old fashioned '60s spy fiction. Thumbs up.

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