Dain_Stephen5 Dain_Stephen2 Dain_Stephen1 Dain_Stephen4 Dain_Stephen3
Full Name: Stephen Dain
Nationality: American
Organization: Military Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Robert Sheckley
Time Span: 1961 - 1967


Stephen Dain is a troubleshooter for American Military Intelligence.

Exactly which branch he works regularly it not revealed. When asked by a friend in the FBI if he was still working out of the State Department, Dain responded that he was working for the Treasury, to which his friend said it was hard to keep up. What this, and other evidence, points to is that Dain is known in the Intelligence community as the man to call when no one else can do the job, or wants to be known to have done it. As further evidence of this, in a subsequent adventure Dain is in the Middle East working on a case for Military Intelligence when another case came to his attention, this time involving white slavery. Dain had to complete his previous mission before he could get away and it was likely the State Department that sanctioned his actions. In the last book in the series his temporary employer seems to be international in nature though the work remains the same.

A 6' tall, thin, sinewy man in his late 30's, he is both nondescript in a crowd and daunting up close. He "hid his virtues for the sake of expediency and concealed his vices out of respect for his vanity." He is also reported to be polite, reserved, and self-contained. One man who met him thought that he would not want to be an enemy of Dain and that even a friend might have to be careful.

He has been an agent for enough time to be jaded about virtually every cause. As mentioned in one book, "he did his work well but he did very little else. He was more useful to others than to himself." In another instance while discussing police and criminals the world over, he commented that often policemen and crooks were very similar and "it may be a case of symbiosis. Or perhaps some men are just naturally drawn to crime. Then it becomes an unimportant matter of pure accident which aspect of it they work in."

The novels about Dain vary considerably. Dain is never the main focus of any of the books. He is, rather, a man who steps in when he is needed and then steps back to let others do their job. He is always in command but seldom takes the role of leader. In each case there comes a time that Dain feels his work is over and he leaves, sometimes with a fair amount of the book left in which the mopping up occurs.


Number of Books:5
First Appearance:1961
Last Appearance:1967

1 Calibre .50 Calibre .50
Written by Robert Sheckley
Copyright: 1961

What started with a smuggling matter turns into far more as a crate marked agricultural equipment is anything but. The investigator for the shipping company knows he needs help but isn't sure Stephen Dain is the best man, especially since people keep shooting at him when he's around Dain.

2 Dead Run Dead Run
Written by Robert Sheckley
Copyright: 1961

It happened in broad daylight in the middle of a busy London street. Armed secret agents carrying a steel-lined briefcase are robbed by a little man who was a fast runner. The case contained a very secret document that now Stephen Dain must recover.

3 Live Gold Live Gold
Written by Robert Sheckley
Copyright: 1962

Nobody bothered to tell Harith that slavery was banished around the world. He still practiced it, providing both men and women to anyone willing to pay. Stephen Dain is assigned to put an end to Harith's business and he has to make himself a target to do so.

4 White Death White Death
Written by Robert Sheckley
Copyright: 1963

In the deserts of Iran, Stephen Dain is working to find the kingpin to a renewed business in heroin, smuggled in from Baluchistan and refined here before heading to the West.

5 Time Limit Time Limit
Written by Robert Sheckley
Copyright: 1967

The group Stephen Dain was ordered to meet needed his help but gave every reason why he should step away. When he decided to learn more, he learned enough to get a price on his head, hunted by every Arab killer for a thousand miles.


The author of this series, Mr. Sheckley, was better known during the 60's as a science fiction writer, and a good one. He should also have been known for his cynical, highly effective "international detective". These are well worth the read.

That moniker of international detective fits Dain quite well as his adventures take him all over the world and get him involved in many different types of cases. Whether he is really a detective or a troubleshooter remains open to debate. That he is a problem solver is certain.


My Grade: B

Your Average Grade:   A+


David A+ 4/19/2014 10:56:34 PM

I liked the toughness and relative realism of the Dain books and Sheckley is always worth reading. He also penned the funniest spy spoof of all time with The Game of Death (sadly filmed as Condorman). I would have enjoyed seeing where the Dain books went.

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