One moment the beautiful young woman, Ursula Baynes-Neefirth, had been staring fearfully across the bed at Napoleon Solo, the next she was dead as she raised the lei up from around her neck. Napoleon and his partner, Illya Kuryakin, had come to Hawaii to meet her, a Thrush agent wanting to defect. Only two other people besides then knew of their meeting, Alexander Waverly and a man in the State Department.
U.N.C.L.E. was looking for information on a man?, woman?, thing?, organization?, known only by the code name Tixe Ylno. A dying U.N.C.L.E. agent had brought word of it and that it involved some sort of weapon, possibly nuclear. No one knew for sure, only that it was a danger to the world.
Now the defecting spy was dead from a bomb placed in the lei. The only thing he finds in her room is a letter with nonsensical words and a silver whip. Napoleon calls Illya in and the blond Russian develops pictures the other agent had taken with his cigarette lighter camera. Solo had grown suspicious when a young Chinese woman had given her a “free” lei. The little strip developed, Napoleon leaves for the airport to find the lei thrower and Illya, waiting a few minutes, calls the police to report the body, leaves only to be accosted by a Chinese-American man that forces him back into the room, holding him long enough for the police to arrive. Somehow he goes out the window and disappears, leaving Illya to be arrested, with the need to escape before it’s learned he’s an U.N.C.L.E. agent.
The two men pursue two separate paths of investigation: Napoleon tracing down the dead woman’s ex-partner in their show business act before the woman became a Thrush agent and Illya the Chinese-American man, later identified as Sam-Su-Yan, also an agent for Thrush. It’s a race to find the secret of Tixe Ylno before it’s too late.
In re-reading this novel for the first time in forty-five years, I was struck by several things. At that time, in 1965, I was a mere child of sixteen. I had no idea then of who Harry Whittington was, that he was a fine crime writer besides his tie-in work(though that phrase wasn’t in use back then either). THE DOOMSDAY AFFAIR was a little different from others that followed in the series. A little more violence and death than was usual. I compare it to the first season of the TV show where things were a little more serious, most of the rest of the books, excluding the McDaniels of course, were more akin to the second season, a little less serious, but not bad. I don’t really recall any ridiculous stories like the third season.
For a number of years there was talk of an U.N.C.L.E. theatrical film, when those things were more in vogue than now, and one name that was constantly attached to it was Quentin Tarintino. He never made any secret that he wanted to use THE DOOMSDAY AFFAIR as the basis for that film. I’ve not heard anything for years, so one assumes the whole idea is dead.
At sixteen, i also didn’t know from house names. Robert Hart Davis was listed as the author of the Man and the Girl From U.N.C.L.E. novellas in the two magazines. It didn’t take me long to recognize that different authors were writing them. The only one I recognized was Harry Whittington because of his writing style and story structure. I found out later some top guns were involved.
Below are the four that Whittington wrote with the magazine covers.
March, 1966 issue: The Beauty and Beast Affair
July, 1966 issue: The Ghost Riders Affair
September, 1966 issue: The Brainwash Affair
January, 1967 issue: The Light-Kill Affair