Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hawker #04 - Deadly in New York

Randy Wayne White, writing under Carl Ramm, wrote and released the fourth ‘Hawker’ novel, “Deadly in New York”, in 1984 via Dell Books. I’ve enjoyed this series for the most part and typically use it as breakage between team combat and post-apocalypse books. It’s a happy medium and for the most part an entertaining one. For those new readers that aren’t aware of ‘Hawker’ mythology – it’s fairly simple. Billionaire Jacob Montgomery Hayes provides resources to tough ex-Chicago policeman James Hawker. Hayes wants the wrongs righted and isn’t afraid to make Hawker an extension of his own vigilante hand. The book’s prior three entries placed Hawker against Florida mobsters, Los Angeles gangs and Irish terrorists. His fourth mission? Third Reich leftover Nazis posing as corporate real estate tycoons.

The book opens with an assassin named Renard seemingly murdering Hawker in a Caribbean bungalow. Of course, this was just a decoy piece of plaster. In a wild opening scene, Hayes and his mysterious butler Hendricks throw a scorpionfish at Renard, leaving him on the verge of death and dumped in the ocean. On the flight back from the Caymans, Hawker and the reader are brought up to speed on what’s so deadly in New York. It turns out a large corporation called Fister wants to reclaim a war-torn portion of The Bronx. To do this they are using illegal subsidiaries to capture government grants. With the federal funds the corporation will build large apartment complexes and office towers. Honestly, that isn’t really such a bad thing. Sure, it’s illegal but corporations do this all the time. But what puts it into the heart of a men’s action adventure story is that the inhabitants of these Bronx streets are ethnic Germans that are starting to rebuild the area, take it back from the goons and striving to create a better place free of corporate restraints. They won’t budge on leaving their homes…so Fister is bringing in the meat grinders to put tremendous pressure on the Germans to leave. The plot has been done to death…but now with Hawker in it.

Earlier, Hawker spent some time in New York surveilling the layout and hangout of the corporation’s mob enforcers. They are headquartered in a large warehouse near the river. Hawker, being a bit of a loose cannon here, loads up a knapsack, walks into the building and literally sprays every living creature with Ingrams submachine guns. Careless, ill-advised and doomed to fail, Hawker’s spraying puts him on the run inside the warehouse, climbing staircases and dodging gunfire. Thankfully, he places sausage rolls of C-4 as he goes. Once he hits the top…everything below him blows. Hawker escapes the burning warehouse with the help of a New York city cop named Calis who’s friends with Hawker’s old colleague in Los Angeles (second book). After a quick mattress romp with a thankful German beauty, Hawker jumps on a plane to rescue employer Jacob Hayes. Where’s he at? Great question.

In a backstory that is running behind Hawker’s deadly assault in New York, details finally emerge regarding Hayes’ mysterious butler Hendricks. The prior three books had always hinted there was more to the English chap than what was presented. This book reveals Hendricks’ past as a secret agent for the English during WW2. He actually entered Hitler’s sanctuary during the Soviet invasion, saw the body and removed a treasured relic from the dictator’s lap. In London, Hendricks consults a war buddy and puts the pieces together – Fister Corporation is operated by a Nazi named Fisterbaur and an old spy named The Druid. There’s a little more backstory here that could flesh out more of a future role for the butler. In the meantime, Hayes has been captured by Fister’s goons and tortured with surgical tubes and scalpels. The book’s finale has Hawker fighting back to back with Hendricks to save Hayes and crush the Nazi corporate raiders.

White throws an abundance of data at the reader in this fourth volume. Finally, we gain some insight on Hendricks and learn that he might gain a prominent role in future books. While there was a lot to unpack, the plot was fairly simple and, if not unoriginal, certainly carries the same “let’s bully the residents until they depart” theme that is heavily borrowed by other media. There was a rushed pace to the book and forced some scenes upon the reader. The New York ally in Calis was never expanded, the love interest was never developed and at the end of the day…we still don’t quite understand what this Druid role was within The Third Reich. Not a highlight of the series thus far but enjoyable nonetheless.