THE FINAL AFFAIR by David McDaniel was an almost never was, just barely was book that was originally supposed to be published in the late sixties as a finale to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. paperback series. The series was canceled and the book finally saw publication in November, 1984 from a small publisher called Extequer Press in hardcover. At least that’s what I get from two sources. A third I ran across says it never made it after all.
There is an ISBN number assigned to it(both previously mentioned sources have it), but I’ve never found a copy, not even a cover image anywhere I looked. I’ve searched for years and thought I’d found a copy listed on Amazon for $35. I jumped on that deal, but what I got instead were seven of the old paperback series. I got my money refunded(why would I pay that amount for seven books that I already owned for which I’d paid fifty cents a copy) and kept the books as well.
What I do have is a copy of McDaniel’s manuscript which has been around for years.
McDaniel’s U.N.C.L.E. novels were the most popular and the best selling of the series. Whenever he turned in a finished book, he was given a contract for the next one. THE FINAL AFFAIR was planned to tie up loose ends, since the TV series was winding down, and be the last book(though J. Hunter Holly had one that suffered the same fate; it was later published in a fan magazine). His previous novel had been the last one commissioned by Ace, the publisher just releasing books from the British series that had never seen American release after that.
McDaniel and editor Terry Carr had cooked up the idea of winding things up. McDaniel was several months late with delivery of the book, though, and a number of changes had taken place in the interim. Ace’s founder had died and the imprint was sold. Terry Carr had resigned and the ms was placed in editor-in-chief Donald Wollheim’s hands. He passed since recent sales had lagged and the series was done.
Wollheim later learned the book was under contract and half the advance had been paid. He’d thought it was freelance and admitted he’d have published it if he’d known they already had paid money on it.
Now on to the plot.
McDaniel had built a consistent background over the course of his six published U.N.C.L.E. novels. Their arch-enemy Thrush had evolved from the remnants of Professor Moriarty’s criminal gang after his death at Reichenbach Falls. During WWI, a young Alexander Waverly rescues a wounded Ward Baldwin. Baldwin later on joins Thrush.
In THE FINAL AFFAIR, we learn Napoleon Solo had been married twice before joining U.N.C.L.E. Both organizations had targeted him with potential very young in his life. Thrush sent an agent to get close to him. Joan was her name and they ended up marrying. She was supposedly killed while he was away on military service, instead returning to her life as a Thrush agent. His second wife was killed in a car accident. He reunites with Joan who defects from Thrush.
U.N.C.L.E. manages to plant a virus in Thrush’s three revolving Ultimate Computers, thus destroying most records and throwing the organization into disarray. They learn the location of Thrush Island and launch an invasion.
Things are pretty much over for Thrush after that and U.N.C.L.E. starts making changes as well. Illya Kuryakin returns to Russia and Napoleon Solo becomes the new Number 1 of Section 1.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a paperback edition of this one published. Not likely though. The show is old and most fans are like me, old along with it. Possibly, if the rumored movie by Tarrantino ever gets made(he’s professed a desire to turn The Doomsday Affair by Harry Whittington into a film). But since that rumor has pretty much been dead for a number of years, it doesn’t seem likely to happen either.
The photo here is McDaniel from November, 1974, just a few years before his death.
update: The Final Affair is now available on the net TO READ OR SAVE.
update: Photograph of David McDaniel by Bill Mills