American Sailor Kurt Reid is a hothead and a hard case--a man who hits first and asks questions later. As scrappy and rough around the edges as Jimmy Cagney, it's no wonder that when the ship's captain turns up dead, it's Reid who takes the rap.
Falsely accused and under the gun, Reid jumps ship and vanishes into Shanghai --only to get caught in a web of intrigue, betrayal, and murder. In a world where nothing is what it seems and everything is for sale, he's soon out of his depth, drawn into a spy game in which the winner takes all . . . and the loser takes a knife to the back.
Will Reid live up to his reputation as the Spy Killer? He'll have to learn the rules fast, because with players like sexy Russian agent Varinka Savischna in the hunt, the game is about to turn as seductive as it is sinister.
As a young man, Hubbard visited pre-Communist China three times, where his closest friend headed up British intelligence. In a land where communists, nationalists, war lords and foreign adventurers schemed for control, Hubbard gained a unique insight into the intelligence operations and spy-craft in the region--a knowledge that informs stories like Spy Killer.
"Vividly written, super-fast-paced." --Ellery Queen
In this fast-paced short novel of espionage and intrigue from pulp master Hubbard, Kurt Reid, bucko mate of the tanker Rangoon, jumps ship to avoid a murder rap. His goal is the city of Shanghai because behind it lay all of China and a fair chance for escape. Instantly, Reid is drawn into a plot involving a beautiful Russian spy, Varinka, and the sinister Gen. Lin Wang and his executioners known as the Death Squad. The equally beautiful Anne Carsten complicates the romantic equation. While not as polished or prolific as Max King of the Pulps Brand, the future founder of Scientology carved a solid career as a contributor to the popular magazines of his day. This action yarn first saw print in the April 1936 issue of Five-Novels Monthly--the bright primary colors of that original cover, reproduced here, add nicely to the timeless pulp appeal. (Sept.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . not so good
Posted March 02, 2011 by cakes , bakeryso i really didn't like this book. cheesy and way to quick. i rolled my eyes a lot.
Galaxy Press, LLC
September 06, 2008
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Spy Killer by L. Ron Hubbard
The water was black and the swim was long, but when a man is faced with death he does not consider odds.
Kurt Reid went over the side of the tanker Rangoon in a clean dive, cleaving the swirling dark surface of the Huangpu. The strong current swept him downriver toward the gaily lighted Bund. He did not want to go there. He knew that authorities would be after him like baying hounds before the night was out.
A shadow came between his half-immersed head and the glow. A sampan was sailing quietly through the gloom, its sculling oar stirring the thick black river.
Kurt Reid gripped the gunwale and slid himself over to the deck. The boatman stared at him with shuddering terror. Was this some devil come to life from the stream's depths?
Kurt Reid was not too tired to grin. He stood up, water cascading from his black clothes.
"Put me ashore in the native city," he ordered in the Shanghai dialect.
"Ai . . . ai . . ."
"And chop-chop," added Kurt.
The boatman shriveled up over his oar. His eyes were two saucers of white porcelain, even his coolie coat sagged. He put the small craft about and drove it swiftly in toward the bank.
Kurt Reid grinned back at the looming hulk of the Rangoon. He raised his hand in a mock salute and muttered, "Get me if you can, gentlemen." He turned then and faced the nearing shore.
As he wrung the water from his clothes he discarded his memories one by one. As mate of the Rangoon, he had been known as a bucko sailor, a hard case who struck first and questioned afterward, renowned for a temper as hot and swift as a glowing rapier.
And the reputation had not helped him when the captain had been found dead in his cabin and when it was discovered that the safe was open and empty. Kurt Reid had been the last man to see the captain alive, so they thought.
Shanghai stretched before him, and behind it lay all of China. If he could not escape there, he thought, he deserved to die. His only regret now was the lack of money he had been accused of stealing. A man does not go far on a few American dollars.
But, unlike most American mates, Kurt Reid had been raised in the Orient and he knew the yellow countries and their languages. Although his quick temper had earned his many enemies among the Japanese and Chinese, he hoped to avoid them. By now several men would be advised of his arrest and before morning his escape would also be known. Many men would think that excellent news and hope that his apprehension would be speedy.
If necessary he could assume one disguise or another. His eyes were the color of midnight and his hair was even blacker, and the pallor of his face could be easily made saffron.
The sampan rasped against a float and Kurt Reid, throwing a coin to the boatman, stepped ashore into the din of the native city.
Rickshaws clanged, vendors yowled their wares, jugglers threw tops high into the air and made them scream. Silk gowns rubbed against cotton gowns, scabby slippers stubbed over jeweled shoes. The crowds in the curving streets blended into the democracy of China.
Kurt Reid, head and shoulders above the rest, shoved his way toward a tea house. There, he supposed, he could dry his clothing and get himself a drink or two. Confidently he picked his way, looking neither to the right or the left, paying little heed to those who stopped to stare at this black-clothed giant who left the cobblestones spotted with his dripping passage.
The tea house was set a little apart from the other structures which hung flimsily over the street. The tea house had curving corners to foil the devils and a floating banner or two in red letters and a whole row of paper lanterns.
Kurt entered and rolled back the clouds of blue smoke which hung between ceiling and floor. Black caps bobbed, gowns rustled. Tea cups remained suspended for seconds.
Kurt went to the back of the room and found the round-faced, slit-eyed proprietor. "I want to dry my clothes. I fell into the river."
The man opened up a small cubicle at the rear, clapped his hands sharply, and presently a charcoal brazier was placed on the floor.
Kurt shut the door and disrobed, hanging his black flannel shirt and his bell-bottom pants over a bench to dry. Tea was brought, but he waved it aside in favor of hot rice wine.
The clothes began to steam and the rice wine took the chill from his body.
All unsuspecting and feeling at ease, Kurt began to plan ways and means of getting into the interior and away from possible arrest.
If he could buy a gown from this Chinese and perhaps a few other things, everything would be all right. He could join some party of merchants and get away.
But his plans were for nothing. His clothing was soon dry and he dressed again, feeling cheered and optimistic. He clapped his hands for the proprietor, and when that worthy came, Kurt was startled by a woman who sat with her back to the wall, staring out into the milling street.
Kurt slipped a dollar bill into the proprietor's hand. He still studied the woman. She was obviously a Russian. Her face was flat, with high cheekbones, and her nostrils were broad. There was the slightest hint of a slant to her eyes. She wore a coat made of expensive fur, and a small fur hat sat rakishly on the side of her blonde head. It was not usual to find Russian women alone in the native city, especially Russian women who dressed so well.
"Who is that?" demanded Kurt.
The Chinese inspected the girl as though he were seeing her for the first time. "Name Varinka Savischna," he replied, stumbling over the unfamiliar vowels of the Russian name.
"But . . . a white woman in the native city . . ." said Kurt.
"Russian woman," grumbled the Chinese. "She brings trouble to me." He looked at Kurt's lean body and handsome, inquisitive face and then grinned.