Spy Sam Durell decides to unofficially help a friend's brother, entangled with an ice-cold Hungarian beauty, and ends up himself mixed up in an Iron Curtain plot in Edward S. Aaron's Assignment Stella Marni.
I am rediscovering Aarons' long-running Assignment series with adult eyes and admiring their hard-nosed plots and tough prose. This one is a bit of a departure as Durell acts more like a private eye, tangling with a rogue FBI agent and falling under the spell of Stella Marni himself, even with loyal girlfriend Diedre close by.
This was one of the early entries, from the 1950s, and reflects the Cold War sensibilities of the time. Even so, Aarons manages to inject quite a bit of shading into all of his characters, good and evil.
One of my favorites thus far out of the stack I have been dipping into regularly, that I purchased in a mighty swath of Gold Medal paperbacks some time back. A good entry in the series.