Alain Dewitt's Reviews > Hawke

Hawke by Ted Bell
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's review
May 28, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: 2011
Read in June, 2011

I read this book on the recommendation of an old college roommate. My friend Rick really likes Ted Bell. Rick and I both like Clive Cussler and the Dirk Pitt series so I thought I would give 'Hawke' a try.

I don't think I will be reading any more Hawke books. Frankly, the writing is almost amateurish. Bell is clearly trying to create a Pitt-like character. Hawke and Pitt have similar, nay, almost identical backgrounds(ex-military men, pilots, dashing good looks, scions of prominent families, loyal sidekicks, beautiful women dropping at their feet). Hawke is almost a caricature of an English nobleman (Lord Hawke) with his faithful butler, Pelham, and his antiquated mode of speaking (old thing, jolly good, I say, etc.) It's as it Bell is trying to one-up Cussler with Hawke.

Bell's plotting is adequate but he fails to capture the historical mystery aspect that Cussler does so well. With Cussler's books you have an ancient or old maritime wreck that figures prominently and dovetails neatly with the contemporary threat. In 'Hawke', Bell slaps together a contemporary threat and then forces a connection with an old mystery. In this case, the villain is the descendant of a 17th century Spanish pirate whose treasure was stolen by a 17th century English pirate. I'll give you three guesses as to who the great-great-great-great-great grandson of that English pirate is. And the first two guesses don't count.

All of this could be somewhat forgiven, and perhaps have earned the book an extra star or two had it not been for the unbelievability of the main character and the rife factual errors. In the case of Hawke, he grows up and attends the British version of our Naval Academy (Dartmouth) and then becomes a naval aviator. First he flies Harrier jump jets and then graduates to fighters (an error since Harriers are fighters and attack aircraft). Bell relates how during the first Gulf War Hawke flew Tomcats. Tomcats are F-14s. F-14s are carrier-based interceptor/fighters. Only two nations have ever operated the F-14: the United States and the Shah's Iran.

Still let's put that error aside for the moment (although it's but one example of what I mean). Let's also put aside the rarity of a pilot transitioning from one aircraft to another (it happens but not that often) and we have the fact that, per Bell, after mastering two high performance aircraft, Hawke did a tour with SBS (Special Boat Squadron, the British equivalent of the US Navy SEALs).

We now catch up to Hawke and he is a billionaire business mogul who freelances by doing wet-work and commando-style anti-terrorism and espionage missions for the US and UK. He's 37 years old.

The timeline is simply impossible. Not unlikely. Not improbable. Impossible. No mention is made of how he acquired his vast fortune in approximately five years. It can't be family money. His family is supposed to be well-off, but he is the son and grandson of war heroes who both became intelligence officers after their military careers were over.

Oh, and his ex- (whose age is unspecified but she's another ravishing beauty) is the new US Secretary of State.

Again, I might have even (emphasis on 'might') overlooked this impossible protagonist had it not been for the numerous factual errors. This book was published in 2003 and these kinds of errors are simply unforgivable in this day and age of instant access to Google and Wikipedia. And how all these errors got past editors and fact checkers is the real question.

I've already mentioned the Tomcat. Here are a couple of others:

- Hawke meets with two Russian arms dealers, looking to buy a nuclear missile submarine. He tells them he wants to buy a boomer (missile sub), an Akula. Akulas are fast-attack submarines. This is like saying, I want to buy a big rig, a Mustang. Bell then doubles down on the error by referring to an Akula Typhoon. This is like saying you want a Mack Testarossa. It's incomprehensible.
- a character makes an analogy by referring to Axl Rose's Fender Stratocaster. First, Axl doesn't play guitar in Guns 'n Roses; Slash does. And not content to make just the one error, he again doubles down because Slash plays Gibson Les Pauls not Fender Strats.
- in the finale Bell has American F/A-18 attack aircraft attacking ground targets with Aim (not AIM) - 9 Sidewinder missiles. Aim means nothing. AIM stands for Advanced Intermediate Range Missile. It *is* a Sidewinder but it is a heat-seeking air-to-air missile and cannot be used to attack ground targets. For that you would use an AGM (Air-to-Ground Missile) - 65 Maverick.

This has been a long review but I think I have amply demonstrated that this is not a franchise or author worth your time. Reader beware!
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Brandon I also hated how he amateurly explained to Hawke what HUMINT is. Anyone who was in SBS would have heard the term. And then he makes another mention of it later, something about being glad he learned the definition that day.

And a Navy SEAL who doesn't know what the term "spook" means? SEALs would all know that term. Bell is trying to be funny and fails miserably.

This whole book made me cringe. And the author bio, if he wrote it, just reeks of arrogance: one of the ad industry's "leading talents" who "won every award the industry offers."

Let's hope he was better at that. I won't read another Bell novel.

Alain Dewitt Brandon, thanks for your comments. Really, I was mystified that this mess was even published. Worse, apparently there's a whole string of Hawke novels! Who reads this dreck??

message 3: by John (new)

John I completely agree. Everything is so over the top. Every character is hyper attractive or physically fit or evil or good. And do I really need to know the name of each characters exclusive tailor, shoe maker, and perfume maker?

Alain Dewitt John wrote: "I completely agree. Everything is so over the top. Every character is hyper attractive or physically fit or evil or good. And do I really need to know the name of each characters exclusive tailor, ..."

Thanks, John. Good point about the meaningless minutiae. Just awful. I still marvel that apparently Bell must have something of a following since there is a Hawke series.

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