Along with the nine-book run of 'Counter Force' (1983-1985), author Daniel Streib's most successful contribution to men's action-adventure was the 14-volume 'Hawk' series (1980-1981). The series' debut, “The Deadly Crusader”, was published by Jove and introduces an international hero named Michael Hawk. While the novel's artwork was alluring, consumers may have been misled by the character's dangerous profession. Instead of a globe-trotting spy spewing hot lead, this hero is a freelance reporter chasing hot scoops.
The novel begins by explaining that Michael Hawk was voluntarily arrested after breaking into a Russian psychiatric hospital. His prison experience was a planned expose on the happenings in and around the Iron Curtain. In the book's opening chapters, Hawk is returned to the US via a cruise ship headed to a sunshine-drenched Greek island where Hawk begins writing down his prison experiences while delighting in the riches of horny young female tourists.
By page 70, Hawk finds himself wandering around on the Greek island when a shootout occurs leaving one man dead. In an attempt to learn who was killed, Hawk attracts the attention of a wealthy dictator and soon finds his own life in jeopardy. Once his weekend lover is killed, Hawk demands to know more about the mysterious island and the dictator. Streib's narrative, while stretched sinewy thin, offers some insight to the character's backstory while attempting to propel the current story arc forward.
Needless to say, “The Deadly Crusader” is an uneven and thin narrative to explore. In fact, through the book's 187 sluggish pages, very little actually happens. The author's story never comes to fruition simply because nothing is ever explained to the reader. Streib just assumes readers understand all of the story's nuances through telepathy. In fact, I'm not sure this began as one full story. My theory is this book is a culmination of broken stories that were never finished and instead were just sewn up here to resemble something approximating a series debut. I speculate that Jove, who already had a smash hit on their hands with 'Nick Carter: Killmaster', thought they could fool their consumers into buying another “similar” series, so they concocted the idea of Hawk. Regardless of Hawk’s creative Genesis, this paperback is terrible and I can't imagine the series improved thereafter.
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