These action adventures appeared in en mass in the early eighties. While not exactly spy material, Hawk's stories do possess some of the pizzazz of Bond: the exotic locations, beautiful women, crazed villains with crazy world threatening schemes and over the top moments of suspense.
The Deadly Crusader
I first saw The Deadly Crusader on the bottom shelf of my local W.H.Smith. The cover was bright and gaudy with an exciting illustration, full of explosions, a beautiful woman and the hero, Michael Hawk, shooting his gun from the hip like he’s escaped from a TV western. I immediately determined to save up the £1.25 I needed to purchase the novel, which I did, and when I got it home, I devoured the story in a couple of days. I soon returned to purchase the other three available adventures [more on those later].
My recollection is that I wasn’t over impressed with the novel the first time I read it, chiefly because I didn’t really understand the plot, but it had a great climax atop the Galata Tower in Istanbul and a smattering of sex, violence and profanity which made me feel I was reading an adult story much like the OO7 hardbacks I borrowed from the library. Hawk mind, is nothing like James Bond. First he’s an American journalist come millionaire who gets caught up in scrapes he really ought to leave well alone. His natural curiosity, allied to a noble streak in his character, constantly leads him into danger and into the lives of dangerous and powerful people.
The initial novel, The Deadly Crusader, is predominantly set on the Greek island of Skiathos where Hawk, still grieving for his wife Lisa, is recovering from six months incarceration in a Soviet prison, a stay he deliberately perpetrated for a lunatic scoop. He is not alone. The CIA have sent a maverick young agent, George Pollock, to monitor him; the KGB sent Arbatov, a ruthless assassin; and the sexual predator Julie Paragon is trying to dig her claws in for a scoop of her own; but it is the luxury yacht and the handsome villa and the mysterious female who lives there protected by men armed with machine guns which most intrigues him.
She turns out to be Brandi [I’m not sure her surname is ever mentioned] the daughter of El Sargento, fallen dictator of a rogue Central American state and heiress to Crusaders International, a multi-state funding organization which has spirited millions of dollars away from the state economy. She is in hiding from her father’s usurpers and the men who want the money back.
Throughout the story Michael Hawk acts like a sort of overgrown high school boy. His manners are terrible. He likes a fight and a f***. He swears a lot. Where ever he goes women chase him and men seem to die. I’ve read the novel several times now and it’s fair to say Hawk isn’t a particularly pleasant character. He’s very self-absorbed and more often than not this puts those around him in danger. The female characters are quite shallow. The villains (of which there are many) come and go, get shot, knifed, punched, you name it. It’s quite a brutal story.
The author is Dan Streib, whose only previous literary offers were a couple of Nick Carter adventures in the early seventies. He’s got a nice flair for description, though he has a tendency to overuse metaphorical comparisons, and he creates for Skiathos and its inhabitants a feasible environment of fear and intimidation. I don’t believe the novel straddles any true merit. It’s very short, about 65000 words, and easily digestible.
Where it does succeed is in the action stakes. The novel is peppered with dramatic violent high points. I particularly enjoyed a scene where a swimming Hawk is menaced by a speeding yacht and there’s a suspense-filled escape from the island. The final helter-skelter chapter is set in Istanbul and serves as the introduction to the remainder of Hawk’s life as the dying Brandi relates the account numbers for her father’s secret slush fund.
As introductory story’s go, The Deadly Crusader is pretty good. It has verve and excitement. Despite obvious flaws, it’s much better than I remembered it.
Edited by chrisno1, 24 June 2015 - 09:54 PM.