Only a certain type of person would pick up a novel called Nick Carter: Death Orbit, and I happen to be one of those people. And if you’re like me, you would expect certain things from that novel – chiefly, no matter how contrived, Nick Carter, Agent N3, Killmaster for AXE, gets to go into space and fight dirty Commie saboteurs. This he does. This novel ticks all the boxes it should – and tells its tale in a fast-paced, energetic fashion. It moves so fast, that the contrivances wash over the reader, to the point that you could actually believe Carter could become an astronaut in a week. It’s only when you put the novel down, that you realise that it is a crock.
The story starts with a routine shuttle mission, which is trying to launch a communications satellite. Two of the crew, Major Tom Young and Major John Richardson suit up to leave the shuttle, to assist with the deployment.
During the deployment, Richardson is shot, and the mission is aborted. Upon return, Tom Young is the prime suspect – simply because, as he was the only person outside of the shuttle with Richardson, he is the only man who could have done it. He is the only possible suspect. The problem is, Young has an impeccable record. The powers that be, don’t believe he could have done it. It didn’t make sense. So AXE is called in to solve the mystery, and Nick Carter is chosen as the man for the job.
He is sent to the NASA Space Center on Merritt Island to investigate, and is immediately introduced to the Security Chief, E.J. Norcross and his assistant, the beautiful Lin Doi Chan. Norcross explains that oxygen supplies on the shuttle are monitored, so nobody else but Young could have murdered Richardson – but still he has his doubts.
As often happens in Carter novels, he is invited by Lin, to her beach side home that evening for dinner – and other horizontal refreshment. Nick is such a man! Later, during the night, Carter awakens to find Lin no longer at his side. Fearing something is wrong, he gets up and steps out onto the porch as the building explodes. He is thrown clear.
It is revealed that Lin is actually a Commie agent, working in concert with anothr Commie, Anatoli Marakazov. Before Carter can round them up, they flee to the Soviet Union. Suspecting that they may hold the secrets to what happened in orbit, Carter follows them to Moscow.
As I alluded to at the start, the story turns full circle, when Carter returns to the United States, to participate in the next shuttle mission, which will replicate the last – with the same crew, with Carter taking over from Richardson.
Nick Carter novels are mindless entertainment, and do not apologize for it. Nor should they. A quick glance at the cover should tell you what type of tale you’re in for. This cover has three elements – a ‘Space Shuttle’, ‘Nick Carter shooting’ and a ‘woman with large breasts’. All three of those elements are in the story. There’s your truth in advertising. Death Orbit delivered everything it promised – no more or less.