I haven’t been around the blogs much for a couple of days. Lana had surgery Wednesday to repair a hernia. She was supposed to go in around 11:00 but it was 12:00 or so before they took her to the operating room. She got out of there in 45 minutes but remained in recovery for a couple more hours, partially because of the hospital being overcrowded. Anyway, the important thing is she came through the surgery well and is feeling much better already. She was feeling pretty sick and nauseated from the hernia. Very glad to see her feeling better. It is hard to watch her feel constantly ill.
Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of reading done in hospital waiting rooms. Yesterday I read well over 100 pages in the book Footfall, by Niven and Pournelle. This is an alien invasion tale and I’m enjoying it very much. I also finished a book that I did not much enjoy. It was the first in a men’s adventure series called Hawk, by a writer named Dan Streib, who died back in 1996 of a heart attack. This particular volume was entitled “The Deadly Crusader.”
According to SpyGuys and Gals, Streib wrote all fourteen books in this series over a two year period, 1980 and 1981. This is what I call a Men’s Adventure novel and it has the trappings of its era. I often enjoy this type of book, but have to judge this particular incarnation as sub-par in most respects. I thought the work had a relatively promising premise and a decent start, but it lost me pretty early and I ended up just scanning the last two-thirds of the book. I can’t recommend it at all and won’t be reading any more of the series myself. In addition, I’ll have second thoughts about picking up other books with Streib’s name or pseudonyms on them. According to Amazon, Streib also wrote romance novels as Lee Davis Willoughby, and other adventure tales under the names J. Faragut Jones and Jonathan Schofield.
The plot of the story has some interesting elements. Michael Hawk, who is an investigative reporter, has just been released from a Soviet prison and is relaxing aboard a cruise ship to Greece when he discovers a mysterious yacht anchored at one of the islands. He decides to find out the story behind it. Predictably, all hell breaks loose. However, the character of Hawk is not particularly well drawn. He seems to alternate between periods of mastery and incompetence.
Finally, and critically for me, the writing is just godawful in many places. There’s no other way to say it. I imagine a lot of this came from pumping out 14 Hawk books in two years, plus whatever else he was writing. There are plenty of decent lines so I’m sure it’s a matter of rushing and not anything to do specifically with his writing skills. Anyway, here’s a little sample, from page 109, of “The Deadly Crusader.” I've taken out the paragraph breaks but the words are quoted exactly.
"A rifle slug clanged metallically into the boat's exposed gas tank, leaving a hole to squirt out the explosive fluid and send it running directly toward the hot, protesting engine. Hawk stared at it, then compressed the coiled muscles in his legs for the jump. The gas tank exploded with a roar that splintered the already battered craft. A flying hunk of wood cracked Hawk on the base of the skull and he felt unconsciousness trying to relieve the pain. He wanted to scream at his own brain."