Not-so-secret agent Alexander Hawke makes James Bond look like a slovenly, dull-witted clock-puncher as he saves the world from Cuban coup plotters, post-Soviet arms dealers, Middle Eastern germ warfare, nuclear destruction, and bad manners.
Lord Hawke, descendant of the pirate Blackhawke, is impossibly wealthy, handsome, clever, cunning, brave. Concealed weapon-sensing parrot, Sniper, upon his shoulder, he’s the distillate of generations of Hawke perfection. But, sadly, Hawke’s life is not all light and glory. A childhood trauma casts a darkness others don’t see in the glare of his radiance. He witnessed the murder of his impossibly beautiful, fabulously wealthy, and inconceivably brave parents aboard the family yacht while on a treasure hunt in the Bahamas. He lacks conscious memory of that day but, damn the luck, it comes back to him when he returns to the Caribbean while trying to thwart a plot by two cartoonish Russian arms peddlers to put the ultimate nuclear stealth sub into the hands of Fidel Castro. Despite the deep soul wound, Hawke can see beauty in others while saving the world. Yes, there is a woman: “In a world besieged by dirty little wars and full of evil, dangerous people, he was doing his duty. Work he felt was vitally important. At the same time, he’d managed to re-build his family fortune and fund causes and charities he believed in. And, at last he’d met a beautiful woman he couldn’t get off his mind, Dr. Victoria Sweet.”
Bell’s first is so over the top—in a genre where hyperbole, bombast, and implausibility are the norm—as to seem a spoof. The most compelling reason to push to the end of this jerkin-ripper is to see whether Hawke will swing from a chandelier during swordplay.