Nick Carter, aka N3, aka Killmaster, was an agent of an organization so secret even the government denied its existence. Nick’s assignments for AXE were reported in a series of well over 200 novels from 1964 to 1990 published by Award, Ace, and Jove.
The books are first-person accounts by Nick Carter himself, a pseudonym for a long list of uncredited writers that includes Bill Crider and Jack Davis.
“I was in a writers’ group in Brownwood, Texas, where I was teaching at Howard Payne University, and one of the women in the group couldn’t see to drive at night,” says Crider. “She had her husband drive her, and he sat in on the meetings. One night he suggested that he and I collaborate on a Nick Carter novel. The short version of the story is that we did, and we sold the book. The title is The Coyote Connection [Ace Charter, 1981]. My collaborator was Jack Davis, the brother of Jada Davis, whose One for Hell is a noir classic.”
Nick Carter is cut from the same cloth as other spies that starred in men’s adventure stories and tales of espionage from his era. He’s impossibly smart, able to handle any situation regardless how badly outnumbered, and impossibly irresistible, bedding any woman who crosses his path. So Carter’s milieu is dated—laughably or sadly, depending on your perspective.
Still, there is vicarious adventure to be had in The Coyote Connection, and the novel remains entertaining, fun, and engaging.
When you consider its authors, it’s not surprising the story is set on the border of Mexico and Texas. Coyotes are smugglers hired to transport people into the US without all the red tape. AXE gets wind four terrorists are coming over. “Their mission is to seek out and assassinate certain key members of Congress.” Carter’s mission is to find and take out the four assassins before they can strike. Considering he gets nothing further from AXE, the mission seems hopeless. But this is Nick Carter, one of only four Killmasters, and the best of the lot at that. Crider and Davis manage to make the impossible seem plausible—or at least enticing enough to plunge readers forward rather than pause to ponder Carter’s remarkable luck or the bane of coincidence.
Allowing for the series’ prerequisites—review Carter’s prowess with weapons, espionage, and seduction from time to time—Crider and Davis give us a solid spy adventure novel well worth reading then and now.