Wednesday, June 03, 2009

James Reasoner's Gabriel Hunt

I'm a bit slow in this wagon, but I've tried to keep a vacation. I had some fun reading books that don't have anything (or at least much) to do with my work, and James Reasoner's first Gabriel Hunt book was one of these.

Everyone knows by now almost everything about this series that's just started and that's the brainchild of Charles Ardai, better known for Hard Case Crime, so I won't go into there. Ardai himself and other writers, like Christa Faust, David Schow and Raymond Benson, are writing other books in the series, and I'm hoping James gets to do another gig with Gabriel Hunt.

And I'm hoping he does a better job than the first book. There's absolutely nothing fundamentally wrong about the book - it runs along smoothly and it's written fluently - but I found myself thinking that there could be - should be - more sex and violence. I know that one of the ideas in the Gabriel Hunt saga is to bring back some of the innocence of the old serials and old pulp magazine fiction set in South Seas or the deep jungles of Africa or whatever, but I don't think they were really this clean. I was hoping this would've been more dirty (and by that I don't mean lewd) and more cynical. For starters, Gabriel Hunt is just way too clean - he's not a badass I kind of hoped he was. In days of old, he would've been a scheming bastard with a scar on his face. That what I saw in my mind when I first heard about Gabriel Hunt.

But I have hope. I find it a bit hard to believe that writers like Christa Faust, the author of the admirable Money Shot, or David J. Schow, one of the original splattepunksters, would write this clean a story. So I'm hoping that James won't hold himself back in another Gabriel Hunt he'll be writing - and that he'll set some of the events in Finland!

One more thing: The book is set in the present times, as in the 2000's, and not in the 1930's, as it might've been, but actually the book feels like it takes place in the 1980's. I don't exactly know why this is (but I kept seeing Romancing the Stone in my mind), but at least the characters could use computers and the internet. These guys - Gabriel Hunt and his brother - go for a shelf of books when they want to find out about an old Confederate flag, when one thinks they'd go Googling first and only then check the reference shelf. (Or maybe James Reasoner checked first there's nothing in the web about that flag.)

Don't go by my word only: here's Bill Crider, here's Horror Drive-In, here's Not the Baseball Pitcher and here's Scott Parker. Here's Cullen Callagher talking with James about the book. And here's Charles Ardai's interview in which he talks about his parents who survived the Holocaust during WWII. I believe some of that shows in his own entry in the Hunt saga.

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