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Ace’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. paperback series in the last sixties had twenty-three books before it was ended, David McDaniel’s novels were the best selling of all of them. He had six published and a seventh written that never made it to print, the series being canceled before he turned it in. He missed a few deadlines over the course of the books. By the time he’d finished it, Ace had changed hands and editor Terry Carr was gone, replaced by Donald Wolheim who turned it down. He only found out later that it had already been contracted for and half the fee payed as an advance.

McDaniel was a fan of the TV show from the beginning and it showed in his novels. He built a consistent history for the show and added much that fans consider canon these days. In the first novel, THE DAGGER AFFAIR, he reveals that U.N.C.L.E.’s arch enemy Thrush was formed from the remnants of Professor Moriarity’s criminal syndicate of the late nineteenth century. He gave the Thrush name meaning, the show producers not assigning any as they did with U.N.C.L.E. It became the Technical Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. He creates two memorable Thrush villains, Ward and Irene Baldwin, having U.N.C.L.E. boss, Waverly, and Baldwin meet during the first world war, long before either was involved with their respective organizations.

THE VAMPIRE AFFAIR came next, considered by most the best of the six, with DAGGER second. In this one Napoleon and Illya investigate the mysterious death of an U.N.C.L.E. agent in Transylvania, found drained of all his blood in a forest. The two agents even have the help of real life Forrest J Ackerman, in the area researching for his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. They even run into a familiar Count. Maybe.

THE MONSTER WHEEL AFFAIR concerns a sudden space station that appears in orbit, claiming to be owned by Egypt. How did it get up there and was it a real threat? A humorous disclaimer says that if the Egypt in the narrative bears any resemblance to any real Egypt, living or dead, it’s entirely coincidental.

THE RAINBOW AFFAIR is set in England and McDaniel used the turn to infuse a host of characters, none ever specifically named, into the story. Appearing either briefly, or alluded to, were a certain ancient beekeeper, Steed and Mrs. Peel, Simon Templar and Inspector Teal, Father Brown, Miss Marple, Fu Manchu, and mention of James Bond. The villain here is a bank robber named Johnny Rainbow.

THE UTOPIA AFFAIR has U.N.C.L.E. boss Alexander Waverly taking a forced vacation for health reasons to a place in Australia called Utopia. Illya is his bodyguard and Napoleon takes temporary command of the New York headquarters. Thrush is plotting on both ends.

THE HOLLOW CROWN AFFAIR sees the return of the Baldwins, the two organizations forced to team up against a man named Joseph King, a former U.N.C.L.E. weapons scientist supposedly killed by one of his own inventions. In fact, he’d defected to Thrush and was using his weapon to take over that criminal enterprise.

McDaniels’ seventh novel, THE FINAL AFFAIR, was supposed to wrap up the series. For years, copies of the manuscript have been passed around among fans(I have one). Then it became available as a PDF file on the internet. One wonders if it will ever be converted to the Kindle, although I understand Amazon has finally okayed PDF programming in Kindles. I don’t know whether that counts for those already sold, or just new models. With technology, it wouldn’t be hard to extend that to already sold devices(may be what they do).

Here’s a link to THE FINAL AFFAIR.