Along with authoring entries in the Nick Carter: Killmaster series, Jon Messman kept a productive schedule in the 1970s with a successful series run with Revenger before achieving commercial success with the popular adult western series The Trailsman. Perhaps one of the best of Messman's literary career is the six-volume paperback series Jefferson Boone: Handyman. It was published by Pyramid Books and debuted in 1973 with The Moneta Papers. The entire series has been reprinted in new editions by Brash Books with an introduction by yours truly.
Jefferson Boone is a silky, posh hero that works inconspicuously with the U.S. State Department. His father was a career diplomat and had mentioned to his son that the department needed a behind the scenes “handyman” that can plug holes for America's foreign allies. Working with a government liaison named Charley Hopkins, Boone is offered a variety of international assignments that conveniently pads out the series. The first assignment that's revealed to readers is The Moneta Papers, a carefully construed Italian mission that features a real estate transaction as the launching point. But, as readers quickly learn, there's nothing ordinary about this property purchase.
Boone's female friend Dorrie is a wealthy European playmate working to secure her fourth marriage. Dorrie owns a number of remote islands that remain as a lease-to-purchase for the U.S. Government. After a number of years, Dorrie has finally agreed to gift the islands to the U.S. provided they can arrange a paper transaction. The problem is that every delivery man has been murdered in route to secure the transaction. The suspect? Dorrie's fiance Umberto, a spoiled kid who has aligned himself with a career politician that aspires to be the next Mussolini.
Boone's first endeavor is to learn if Dorrie is involved with the failed delivery attempts. Second, Boone must investigate Umberto's past and current political allies. Using disguises, a fast Ford Mustang and his snub-nosed .38, Boone embarks on a perilous mission to learn the truth. Messman's writing incorporates Formula 1 racing, various shootouts, a Swiss Alps skiing adventure and sexcapades (albeit more topical than descriptive) to propel the narrative.
Fans of James Bond and Nick Carter should like Messman's protagonist. While Boone is an international, intellectual hero, the author carefully avoids pure snobbery. In fact, Boone's budding romance with a small-town Indiana school teacher helps ground the hero with more American wholesomeness. By 1973, it was a crowded market for these types of globe-trotting champions. Thankfully, Messman's series and character stand the test of time. This was an excellent novel.
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