<!-- Image with inadequate rationale removed: -->Matt Helm
is a fictional character created by author Donald Hamilton
. He is a U.S. government counter-agent—a man whose primary job is to kill or nullify enemy agents—not a spy or secret agent in the ordinary sense of the term as used in spy thrillers.
The character and the series
The character appeared in 27 books over a 33-year period beginning in 1960 and established Helm as one of the most tough-minded, pragmatic, and competent of all fictional agents, whatever their roles. The series was noted for its between-books continuity
, which was somewhat rare for the genre. In the later books, Helm's origins as a man of action in World War II
disappeared and he became an apparently ageless
character, a common fate of long-running fictional heroes.
In the first book in the series, Death Of A Citizen,
which takes place in the summer of 1958, 13 years after the end of the Second World War, Helm is frequently referred to by other characters as being of incipient middle age and apparently soft and out of shape, although no specific age for him is given.
In the next story, which apparently takes place in the summer of 1959, a hostile agent from a rival American spy organization taunts Helm as being a shopworn 36-year-old and clearly over the hill as a physical specimen. Later in the book, Helm himself says that he is 36 years old.
A long Internet article (on the now defunct members.aol.com) by Hayford......