Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Man Of Action

I didn't love The Hook's initial entry, THE GILDED CANARY, which Warner Books published in 1981 as part of its "Men of Action" paperback series. It plays like more of a mystery than a hard-boiled adventure, although it does offer a couple of good shootouts and a decent body count. However, it's more Ellery Queen than Mack Bolan, not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's what you're in the mood for.

Author Brad Latham's (or whoever at Warner Books) idea to give the Hook's stories a period flavor is a good one. Set in the 1930s, THE GILDED CANARY introduces Bill Lockwood a.k.a. The Hook, a veteran of World War I and an ex-boxer (which is where he got his nickname) who solves cases as an investigator for the Transatlantic Insurance Company. His first mystery involves stolen jewels, which were filched from wealthy debutante Muffy Dearborn while she was rehearsing for her opening night as a club singer. An expert behind the sight of his Colt .38 pistol and behind the wheel of his Cord convertible, the Hook indefatigably follows whatever clues he can scrape up, though his path never wavers far from Muffy, the men who fall in love with her, or Stephanie, her French maid who falls for Lockwood. Outside of two surprisingly graphic sex scenes, THE GILDED CANARY reads like many drawing-room mysteries, and the climax features the Hook holding suspects at gunpoint, while he wraps up all the clues for them (and the reader) in a tidy bundle.

THE GILDED CANARY is not a bad book at all. It's well written, the Hook is an appealing hero, and fans of sex and violence will find enough to groove on. Latham penned five Hook novels in 1981 and 1982. It appears as though Latham is actually David Schow, a name well known to horror and science fiction fans. Not only has Schow written many horror novels, but he has also branched out into screenwriting, penning movies like THE CROW and television series like MASTERS OF HORROR. Schow also wrote THE OUTER LIMITS COMPANION, an excellent behind-the-scenes chronicle of the making of the classic '60s TV anthology series, and has contributed articles to VIDEO WATCHDOG.

1 comment:

Brian R. Sheridan said...

I thought I was the only one who read these books. Thanks to the internet, I have been able to get all of the books in this series.