Wednesday, November 30, 2022

QUICK SHOTS: The Owl by Robert Forward

Robert Forward, as in forward momentum I assume because "The Owl" is all about making you run through the pages. Ya'll like action? How about some mystery? Sex? Violence? Yes, of course you do. Why else would you read a blog like this? Anyhow, Bob Forward has a long history writing for animated T.V. shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Rambo: The Force of Freedom, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, even Super Dave. In the haze of writing some of mine and your favorite 80's cartoon's he squeezed out two novels about Alexander L'Hiboux aka "The Owl," a L.A. crimefighter with who doesn't sleep and likes public transport.

Lying somewhere between Norvell Page's The Spider and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, The Owl is "justice for hire," not really a classic P.I. but not a moralistic "Batman-type." He's a guy who wanders the streets as a scourge to the bad guys with a killer reputation and since he doesn't sleep, he's got a lot of time on his hands to be badass. He's an 80's off-the-grind, bulletproof-jacket wearing, Peacemaker-packin' version of Race Williams. You hire him and turn him loose.

The teenage daughter of a guy gets her face blow-torched and dies, the father wants vengeance and for a price, The Owl is on the case. Along the way there's a lot of shooting, chasing, murder, sneaking around, bus rides, shady bars and the slowly unfolding backstory of The Owl. Forward really never lets The Owl take a breath, even after some bullet-holes The Owl is up and back on the case which is a nice twisting and turning tale of smuggling, blackmail and death. 

There was even a T.V. movie with Highlander-star Adrian Paul, which I watched after reading the book. Which really didn't capture the feeling. You'd need a full-80's-era motion picture budget and mood to capture the full impact of the book. I couldn't help thinking of the late-80's T.V. adaptation of Mike Grell's Sable while watching, which was full of the big ideas of the AWESOME comic but lacked the dollar signs to fully realize it. But as an aficionado of that era of action shows, it wasn't too hard to sit through, feeling like comfort food for my action-junkie soul. 

"The Owl" is a nice mixture of the narrative thrust of a Spillane novel with the trappings of some of the 70's Men's Adventure heroes and a much bigger dollop of pulp heroes. As I was reading, I was also reminded of F. Paul Wilson Repairman Jack series, albeit without the supernatural stuff. Forward is a fine writer who write clean so you never get hung up as your gliding through The Owl's violent adventure. It's a shame there's only one more novel in the series "The Scarlet Serenade" which was never published in the U.S. (I have a NEL paperback) until Lee Goldberg's wonderful Brash Books reprinted them both. So, their easy to pick up and enjoy...which I'm sure you will. 

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