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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Big Bite

cover image By: Travis, Gerry (pseudonym of Louis Trimble) (male)
Publisher: Ace Books, Inc. (Ace Double Novel Books D 317)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 836: PS3505 .H215 W39 1958
Contributor: J. Vourgourakis


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Gerry Travis Geographic Locale: Lisbon, Portugal; LaCruz, Mexico; Tangier, Algeria Date of Publication: 1958  |  Original Date: 1957 Setting: urban Motives: greed, smuggling

Plot Summary

Independently wealthy Paul Knox works for a global private espionage corporation because he craves the excitement of the job. On a previous mission, Knox fell in love with the beautiful Natalie Tinsley, daughter of a master smuggler and criminal. Now, with the elder Tinsley dead, a Russian interloper has assumed Natalie Tinsley's identity, and is head of a giant gold smuggling ring that is being financed by the Soviets to establish a puppet government in Cuba. The real Natalie Tinsley has caught wind of the project and wants a piece of the action. She meets up with Knox who's been assigned to the case to destroy the smuggling ring. In the remote Mexican village of La Cruz, Knox and Tinsley, with the help of a cast of colorful characters including an etymologist and a stripper, are determined to uncover the Communist plot and the twenty million dollars in Cuban-rebel gold that went with it.

Major Characters

Paul Knox adult male, independently wealthy, spy who works for World Circle, a private espionage service utilized by many governments; met and fell in love with Natalie Tinsley while pursuing her father, a notorious swindler

Natalie Tinsley "Nat," adult female, her father was "the smoothest operator on the Continent"; has lived in various countries since her father's death and has lost most of her fortune; looking for an opportunity to make some quick and easy money

Adele Fisher adult female, college professor, worked in the resistance during World War II and in espionage after the War; killed her husband when he sold out some of his fellow spies in pursuit of money; was in Cuba during her college years and had some connections with the Communist party, currently being blackmailed by Cuban Communists

Natasha Tinsley a.k.a. Natalie Tinsley; adult female; ex-Soviet operator who now works for the Cuban Communists and the Russians; assumed Natalie Tinsley's identity in order to use the connections of the late Tinsley in setting up a gold-smuggling operation

Nigel Forrest adult male, operator for the Russian Communists; works undercover as Natasha's underling, but has actually been assigned to watch her and ensure that everything goes according to plan

Chico adult male, Cuban Communist; poses as a hotel clerk

Jose Silac adult male, Mexican police detective; poses as a hotel waiter

Meridee Simpson adult female, exotic dancer working undercover for the World Circle

Hans Kurath adult male, loyal employee of the late Mr. Tinsley; working with Natalie Tinsley, but posing as part of the Cuban Communist team

Seor Gomez adult male, Mexican diplomat who is to head the puppet government in Cuba

Level of Violence

there is much violence, including the drugging of a spy who is left to die on a deserted island. Two characters are shot at; one is killed by a grenade. Paul has a few fights with several of the bad guys, and in the end, he drives a large ship into another ship that is moored in the harbor. The ship explodes, killing all of the Communists on board. The novel is something of a departure from the typical formula in that it depicts scenes where male characters are outsmarted and overpowered by female characters.


Nigel Forrest is described as having a "pretty-boy face" which he uses to his advantage. Nat Tinsley is described as "boyish." She wears padded clothing and poses as a prostitute. Natasha is described as an extremely attractive and full-figured woman, but her sexuality seems to be slightly in question, simply because she is a powerful woman. She teases many of the men in the novel, and uses her sexuality to overpower them and get them to do as she pleases.

Gender Roles

Paul Knox is very sympathetic toward women and calls on their help. Unlike many pulp fiction novels, where the women either get in the way or need to be rescued, Paul Knox has four women help him catch the villains and stop the Communist plot. Both Nat Tinsley and Adele Fisher are very independent-minded and capable. They can both fend for themselves, and Nat gets away with a million dollars in gold without Paul Knox's knowledge. Natasha is a very tough woman who uses men. Meridee Simpson is a ditsy stripper who is kind-hearted and loyal. She agrees to perform a strip tease at Natasha's party in order to cause a commotion ao that Paul and the others can get away. Meridee is also depicted as having a strict work ethic. Since she is being paid $50 to act as an undercover agent, she feels that she sould perform her striptease act in order to earn her pay.


the novel pits good, rich people against bad Communists. There are several Mexican characters on both sides, though the good guys, Silac and Manuela, are not as capable as their white counterparts.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

lots of social drinking; Adele gets very drunk one night and wins $3,000 at roulette. She and Paul go down to the beach where she sings dirty songs in many different languages. At the party at Natasha's, Meridee gets one of Natasha's henchmen very drunk.

Law Enforcement

Jose Silac represents the law. He is tough but slow, and never quite catches on to what is happening. The other characters, including the private spy, Paul, and the cute crook, Natasha, are much quicker and more capable than the law. Paul Knox and Natalie Tinsley are both independently wealthy and operate above the law.

Added Features

Natasha is smuggling gold to help prop up a new puppet Communist government in Cuba. The novel takes place when Batista has threatened to retire, and the Communists are worried about maintaining power in the region.
The cover illustration depicts a male figure overpowering a female figure and wresting a gun from her hands. This is likely an illustration of Paul and Natasha's struggle on board the ship, but in the novel, it is actually Natasha who gets the gun from Knox and locks him in the bathroom. A smaller illustration on the cover depicts the scene of the exploding grenade that kills Natasha. Both illustrations reflect many typical pulp fiction covers of the period which depict violent scenes involving women,

Subject Headings

Spies/ International Intrigue/ Mexico