THE SPANISH CONNECTION (Award, 1973) is about the 82nd Killmaster novel to be published. Carter is assigned by AXE to pick up an attractive Mexican agent, Juana, and take her to Spain, where they're to meet a Mafia druglord named Enrico Corelli. Corelli, after years of pushing hard dope, found a conscience after his college-age daughter died of a heroin overdose. He decides to turn state's evidence against the Mob and sets up a meeting with the Killmaster and Juana on a yacht off the coast of Malaga. Knowing the Mob wants him very, very dead before he can turn over microfilm containing all the details of their drug operation, Corelli makes Carter jump through all sorts of hoops to protect his health. And since nobody knows what Corelli looks like, Nick has no way of knowing which of the new friends he makes on this adventure is Corelli and which is the hitman on his trail.
Told in first person by, reportedly, author Bruce Cassiday, a pulp author of some renown who also dabbled in TV tie-ins (including a MARCUS WELBY, M.D. novel), THE SPANISH CONNECTION is a crackling good yarn short on gadgetry and pyrotechnics. It feels more like a tight private-eye yarn than a globetrotting spy adventure; actually, now that I think about it, it's similar to Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm series or Edward Aarons' Sam Durell books, but not as rich. It runs 200 pages, but feels much leaner, which is a great compliment. I understand the Killmaster series varies in quality, but this is a good one to start with. It was one of 14 (!) Carter novels published in 1973.