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PETER BARON

intrigue_196510_1 intrigue_196601_3 intrigue_196511_2
 
Full Name: Peter Baron
Nationality: American
Organization: American Intelligence
Occupation Freelance Agent

Creator: Bruce Cassiday
Time Span: 1965 - 1965

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Peter Baron is a freelance operative.
       By freelance I mean, of course, that he can and does work for whomever he chooses but he invariably has chosen to work for the powers of the West as far as I can tell. American intelligence organizations have used him considerably and he is held in high esteem by them though it would seem several of their key personnel resent his freedom.
       Baron is an American by birth and citizenry but he is an expatriate through and through, returning to his homeland only for short visits, at least according to a comment in the first of the three short recorded adventures we have of his. In the third adventure he was indeed just visiting the state of Hawaii but becomes embroiled (almost literally) in a mission there.
       We learn early on that Baron is a man of considerable wealth but since no reference is made to work outside the cloak and dagger arena, we must conclude the money came from an inheritance. However he got it, he most definitely has a lot of it as he owns a plush villa on the Riviera and a very pleasant yacht known as the La Bonne Chance. He drives (and rather dotes on) a '64 Lancia which was a vehicle most admired for its luxury (I looked it up).
       Chief among the people that Baron is routinely set against is a vast international criminal organization known as I.C.E. According to Mr. Satin, the leader of the group, the acronym stands for International Combine of Entrepreneurs but Baron countered that his people referred to it as the International Combine for Evil and the very nasty Mr. Satin not only did not argue, he seemed to enjoy it.
       Aiding Baron on his missions is the Italian nobleman Il Duca (The Duke) who has an air of rascal about him but since he is on the side of the angels, it is forgiven and his many contacts with cousins around Europe prove quite useful.
       And then there are the ladies, each one more beautiful and sensuous than the one before and each one waiting anxiously for a chance to woo Peter Baron. He is nice enough to let them. Often.

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:3
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1965

1 Deep Sleep Deep Sleep
Written by Bruce Cassiday
Copyright: 1965

Originally published in Intrigue Mystery Magazine #1, October 1965. A scientist for a major new military weapon has been injured. I.C.E. wants his plans and kidnaps the male twin of a the man's mistress to force her to obtain it and hand it over. Naturally, she is also a princess and naturally Peter Baron will use his charms to dissuade her and to save the day.
Reprinted in two collections by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg: 13 Short Espionage Novels (1985) and The Mammoth Book of Short Spy Novels (1986) [essentially the same collection but with one book removed].

2 The Mendoza Memorandum The Mendoza Memorandum
Written by Bruce Cassiday
Copyright: 1965

Originally published in Intrigue Mystery Magazine #2, November 1965. [plot unknown]

3 S.P.Y In The Sky S.P.Y In The Sky
Written by Bruce Cassiday
Copyright: 1965

Originally published in Intrigue Mystery Magazine #3, January 1966. Peter Baron is on vacation on a yacht in Hawaiian waters when one of the volcanoes has a small eruption and a man caught in the boiling waters is pulled onboard. He is a scientist with no reason for being in the area but when Baron gets curious, he gets assaulted.
Reprinted in the collection Cloak and Dagger, a treasury of 35 great espionage stories edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg, 1988.

MY COMMENTS

       I could start out asking what is there not to like about Peter Baron. He is rich, superbly athletic, very rich, urbane, sophisticated, lethal to his enemies, fiercely loyal to his friends, and irresistible to the opposite sex. Of course, I might have just answered my own question. Not even the archetype of the super-spy, James Bond, was all this.
       So, I am jealous and therefore do not really like the two short stories I found of his (the one in the middle is still unavailable). I can admit that.
       But I have to be honest enough to say that the writing is good, the flow of the action spot on, and the bad guys sufficiently bad to make you want them to get pounced and they do.
       But everything is too good and that is the biggest flaw. That and some unbelievable coincidences. Case in point, and the one that jumped out at me the strongest: Peter Baron and his friend are just come ashore from the yacht they are staying on. They are expecting no trouble at all but, of course, it happens and Baron is assaulted. Curious as to why the attempt on his life and not believing the would-be assassin to be the brains behind it all, Baron allows the assailant to escape on a scooter. But not before Baron pulls from his pants pocket a magnetic homing beacon and slaps it undetected onto the bike. Now, even in our modern age of super-small and ultra-powerful electronics, I wonder about someone having something like that but to have it in your pocket "just in case".
       Still, these are fast and mostly fun so I should not quibble so much.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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