I am now - according to my Kindle thingy - 12 percent through Bell’s first Hawke novel…am I really spending lifetime on a character who is written even less likeable than most of Fleming’s villains? A cardboard with the drawing of a matchstick superhero on it that makes Batman* - any Batman - seem like a documentary.
Jack Reacher, this huge slab of rock character without any form of emotional resonance outside what plot calls for, beats this crude fantasy of a notorious overachiever by miles. And I only dimly remember having read two Dirk Pitt novels about twenty years ago, but still feel more fond of Pitt than I probably ever will of this Hawke guy.
For me the most baffling thing: how can an American author - of the pulp genre, but still - gush about the ‘English Union Jack’ (a fetish probably, given how often Union Jacks are mentioned; might apply for the top floor of the Beeb) - and nobody sets the record straight for him? I’m amazed.
And yet…there is something that makes me read on, makes me ignore the bizarre display of canine devotion to posh British, no, English nobility, makes me forget my intense dislike for the simplistic caricature of a hero (‘…decorated for valour many times. He was simply good at war.’) to find out how it’s going on and what will be the big deal about it.
I realise of course that this is genre food where Bell’s many fans love and expect exactly this painting in broad strokes and stark contrasts, where characters talk like 80s tv shows and adventure in general plays along the lines of an A-Team episode. This is fodder to kill time (lifetime). And I’m currently in a train with another three hours of journey time ahead of me, so I might as well read on…
*Batman also seems a closer template than Bond: multi-billionaire heir (what we now consider an achievement already), retired-or-not naval officer who is somehow secretly shared by American and British intelligence and geopolitical interests, business magnate and ‘sixth-richest man in all of England’, operating with his own unlimited funds and more or less as self-therapy of childhood trauma.