Hawke (Alex Hawke Series #1)by Ted Bell
Lord Alexander Hawke is a direct descendant of the legendary English pirate Blackhawke and highly skilled in the cutthroat's deadly ways himself. While still a boy, on a voyage to the Caribbean, Alex Hawke witnesses an act of unspeakable horror. Hidden in a secret compartment on his father's yacht, Alex sees his parents brutally murdered by three modern-day pirates. It is an event that will haunt him for the remainder of his life. Now, fully grown and one of England's most decorated naval heroes, Hawke is back in the same Caribbean waters on a secret mission for the American government. A highly experimental stealth submarine, built by the Soviets just before the end of the Cold War, is missing. She carries forty nuclear warheads and is believed to be in the hands of a very unstable government just ninety miles from the American mainland. Hawke is in a race against time. His mission: Find the deadly sub before a preemptive strike can be launched against the U.S., and confront the murderous men behind the personal nightmare that haunts him before they find him first.
Featuring breathtaking action, international intrigue, and a hero worthy of the very finest adventure fiction, Hawke heralds the exciting debut of a bold new talent.
James Patterson Ted Bell is the new Clive Cussler....Climb on board Hawke for the best adventure in years.
Clive Cussler Rich, spellbinding and absorbing, Hawke is packed with surprises and great fun to read.
Read an Excerpt
The Englishman looked at his unsmiling reflection in the smoky mirror behind the bar and drained the last of his pint. He'd lost count of how many he'd downed since entering the tattered old pub. It was called The Grapes, and it was one of the more respectable establishments in a rather bawdy little quarter of Mayfair known as Shepherd's Market.
Pink and rose lights were glowing softly in many of the small windows of the narrow buildings that lined the winding lanes. Hand-lettered names could be found beside the illuminated buttons inside each of the darkened doorways. Fanny. Cecily. Vera and Bea. Their pale faces could often be seen at the window for just a moment before the shade was drawn.
He had drifted aimlessly through the narrow streets of Mayfair, having decided to walk home from dinner at the German ambassador's residence. He'd left rather early when, after he'd downed yet another flute of champagne, it occurred to him that every single thing he'd said all evening had bored him to tears.
He'd meant to go straight home, but the miserable weather so perfectly matched the texture and color of his current state of mind that he'd decided to embrace it, dismissing his driver for the evening and electing to hoof it to Belgrave Square.
Damp. Cold. Foggy. Lowering clouds threatening rain or snow or both. Miserable. Perfect.
There was an electric fire in the coal grate of the smoky pub, and now, brooding upon his perch at the end of the bar, he looked at the thin gold Patek on his wrist. Bloody hell. It was considerably further past his bedtime than he'd imagined. Not that it mattered much. He could sleep in next morning. Hadnothing on until lunch at his club at one. He tried to recall whom he was lunching with and was damned if he could.
The days had become an endless blur and, except for the constant dull ache in his heart, he would have sworn that he'd died some time ago and no one had bothered to inform him of his own passing.
The pub had thinned out quite a bit, only one or two chaps remaining at the bar and a few young foreign backpackers necking in the curves of the dark banquettes. At least there were fewer patrons to stare at him and the ones remaining had finally left him bloody well alone.
He was aware, of course, that he stood out.
He was, after all, wearing white tie and tails, and his feet were shod with black patent leather pumps. His long black opera cloak, sealskin topper, and gold-headed cane lay atop the bar. He knew he must cut quite an amusing figure at The Grapes, but he was long past caring. He signaled the barman for a check and ordered what would definitely be his last pint before heading home. Sticking twenty quid under the ashtray, he returned to his stormy thoughts.
Part of it was sheer boredom, of course, what the cursed French called ennui. He was rotting away so rapidly that it would hardly surprise him if he awoke one morning to find mildew growing on his --
"Got a match, guv?" someone suddenly said at his side. He turned to regard the newcomer and saw that there were three of them. Leather jackets, shaved heads, black jeans shoved into heavy black boots. All staring at him, sneers on their pallid faces. They looked, what was the word, itchy.
He hadn't even seen them come in.
"Matter of fact I do," he said, and fished his old gold Dunhill out of his waistcoat pocket. He flicked it open and lit the cigarette dangling from the lips of the grinning skinhead who was staring at him with glittering eyes.
Whatever drugs he was taking had definitely kicked in.
"Ta," the youth said. He'd had blond hair once, but the stubby new growth was some sort of acid green.
"Pleasure," he replied and, pocketing his lighter, returned to his pint.
"Me mates and I," the lout continued, "we was wonderin' about you."
"Really? I'm not at all interesting, I assure you."
"Yeah? Well, what we was wonderin', me mates and me, was whether or not you were a, you know, a poofter."
"A poofter?" he asked, putting down his pint and turning his cold blue eyes toward the sallow face and wide grin full of bad teeth.
"Yeah. A fooking flamer," the man said, though something in the older man's eyes made him take a step backwards.
Two well-manicured hands shot out and pinched the skinhead's ringed earlobes cruelly.
"Poofter?" the elegant man said, smiling, twisting his fingers. "You don't mean the sort of chap who wears earrings and dyes his hair, do you?"
This drew a laugh from the two sullen mates and brought an angry flush of color into the cheeks of the green-haired fellow.
"Nice meeting you lads," the Englishman said, releasing the chap's bright red ears. He stood, picked up his cloak, and shouldered into it. Then he donned his top hat, picked up the ebony cane, and turned to go.
"Wot's at?" the green-haired boy said, blocking his way.
"Wot's wot?" the gentleman replied in a perfect mimicry of the fellow's accent.
"Wot you said. Wot you called me -- "
"Get out of my way," he said. "Now."
"Make me, guv. C'mon. Give 'er a go."
"Pleasure," he said, and he brought the flat hard edge of his hand down on the fellow's right shoulder with such blinding speed that the youth felt the sharp stab of pain before he even saw the hand coming.
"Christ!" he screamed in pain, staggering backwards, his shoulder blade sagging at an odd angle. "You broke me bloody -- me bloody -- "
"Clavicle," the Englishman said as the fellow stumbled backwards over a barstool and collapsed to the floor.
He then stepped over the chap on his way out the door. "Good evening," he said, tipping his hat as he strolled out the open door and onto the empty street. No one about. It was a good deal later than he'd imagined.
He walked to the next corner and paused beside a lamppost to draw out his gunmetal cigar case. He lit his cigar, listening carefully for their approach. It didn't take long. He let them get within six feet, then whirled about to face the three thugs. The green-haired one was holding his broken collarbone, his face contorted with rage.
"Ah, my new friends," the Englishman said, a pleasant smile on his face. "I've been expecting you. Now. Who wants to go first? You? You? Perhaps all of you at once?"
He waited for one of them to move and when it happened he attacked. His senses were surging back to him, and, like an animal, he rejoiced in the feeling.
He broke two noses first, then lashed out at the third chap, his right foot the blur of a scalded piston. He connected, first hearing the snap of the fibula and then the deeper crack of the tibia, the inner and larger of the two bones of the lower leg. Sadly, it was enough to take all the fight out of them, and so he turned away and headed for home. It had started to rain, a raw, cold rain, and he removed his hat and turned his face up into it, enjoying the sting of the icy drops. He reached the house in Belgrave Square, and Pelham swung the door open for him, taking his hat and cane.
"Good heavens!" the old fellow exclaimed when the man removed his cloak to reveal his blood-spattered shirtfront. "What happened, m'lord?"
"Bloody nose, I'm afraid," he replied, mounting the broad stairs. "Two of them, in fact."
Ten minutes later, he was in his bed, yearning for sleep and the American woman he seemed to have fallen deeply in love with, Victoria Sweet.
A few hours on, the Englishman was staring at the ringing bedside telephone and the clock with equal disbelief. "Bloody hell," he said to himself. He picked up the phone.
"Yes?" he said, with no intention of being polite. Christ, it was barely a quarter to five in the morning.
"Hi," said the throaty female voice at the other end, altogether too cheery for the ungodly hour.
"Good God," he said, yawning. He'd been in a deep sleep. Having quite a pleasant dream as he remembered. Vicky was undoing her -- he'd lost it.
"No, not Him. But close. It's the brand-new secretary. First day on the job!"
"Do you have even the faintest idea what time it is over here?"
"You sound put out."
"May I be frank?"
"Oh, don't be mad. I've had the most amazing day. I'm not calling to flirt, either. It's strictly business."
The Englishman, fully awake now, propped himself up against the many large pillows at the head of his bed. A hard rain, now mixed with sleet, was thrashing against his tall bedroom windows. The fire, which had been casting shadows on the vaulted ceiling when he'd at last fallen asleep, was now reduced to a few glowing coals, and a damp chill pervaded the lofty chamber.
He pulled the blanket up under his chin, cradling the phone against his cheek. Another soggy January day in London was about to dawn. He was sluggish. He was bored. His limbs, his mind, his very cells, had gone soft and flaccid.
The little scuffle in the street had been a pleasant distraction, but nothing more. The Englishman was in fact a restless warrior who, for far too long now, had been "between assignments," as the euphemism has it.
Which is why the single word business had crackled like lightning around his languishing synapses and stirred his lazy blood.
"You mentioned something about business," he said.
"Are you disappointed? Tell the truth. You were hoping it was phone sex. I could hear it in your voice."
"Your voice does sound rather -- never mind. Smoky. I thought you'd stopped smoking."
"I'm trying to quit. I'm going hot turkey."
"It's the opposite of cold turkey. You fire up your first one the second you wake up and then smoke as many as you possibly can before you go to sleep at night."
"Sounds brilliant. Well. You said business. Tell me."
"First, you have to know something. This is not my idea. Your pal the president asked for you specifically. I'm telling you that just in case you've got too much on your plate already."
"It's not me who's asking. It's him."
"Doesn't matter to me who it is. My plate, dear girl, is as clean as your proverbial American whistle."
"You have no idea how glad they'll be to hear that over at Casa Blanca."
"All right. I'm no longer annoyed. I'm awake. Razor sharp. Tell me."
"Your MI6 picked this up, tossed the ball to us. CIA has checked it out and it's serious. Confirmed through the captured Al Qaeda commander, Abu Subeida."
"Yes. Ever heard of something called Project Boomerang?"
"Hmm. I do seem to remember that. Some kind of wildly experimental submarine program. The Soviets were building a prototype at the Komsomolsk yard. Tail end of the Cold War. Never got it operational as I recall. Is that it?"
"Exactly. The Russians called it the Borzoi. They'd gotten their hands on a lot of our stealth technology. And they'd also developed some of their own. Plus a three-foot-thick coating of sonar- and radar-absorptive material, advanced fuel-cell technology, and a virtually silent propulsion system. The sub carries forty of their SS-N-20 SLBMs. Long-range Sturgeon ballistic missiles."
"Carries? As in present tense?"
"The thing is huge. Shaped like a boomerang, hence the name. Two airfoil-shaped hulls join at the bow to form a V shape, twenty missile silos on each hull. Virtually invisible to detection. When she's running submerged at speed, a single conning tower at the bow is retracted entirely within the hull."
"An underwater flying wing."
"Yes. An invisible underwater flying wing. At least three times faster than anything either of us has got."
"Bloody hell. They actually got one up and running?"
"They built two."
"We can only account for one."
"What do our new best friends have to say about that?"
"Moscow says it was stolen."
"Security never being their strong point."
"Exactly. They say they have no idea where it is. The theory both at Defense and here at State is that one sub has probably been sold. The president would like you to find out who sold it. And more importantly, who bought it. And when."
"Consider it done," the Englishman said, springing from his bed and grabbing his robe from the back of a chair.
"We could have phone sex now if you'd like," the woman said.
"I wouldn't even dream of taking advantage of you at a moment like this, darling."
"I'll take that as a no. Go back to sleep. Good night, baby."
"I love you, Alex," the woman said.
But the Englishman's heart was in another place entirely, and he had no reply to that.
"Good night," he repeated softly, and replaced the receiver. He had told her that their relationship was over. And that he was very much in love with another woman. No matter what he said, or how frequently, however, it didn't seem to take.
He stood up, stretched, and pushed the bell that would alert Pelham down in the kitchen that he'd be having an early breakfast. Then he dropped to the floor by his bed, did his customary thirty push-ups and fifty sit-ups, followed by the rest of his exercise program. Muscles aflame, he then headed for the shower.
Under the scalding water, Alexander Hawke was surprised to find himself singing at the top of his lungs.
An old Beatles tune.
"Here Comes the Sun."
Copyright © 2003 by Theodore Bell
Meet the Author
Ted Bell is the former Vice-Chairman of the board and World-Wide Creative Director of Young & Rubicam, one of the world's largest advertising agencies. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Hawke, Assassin, and Pirate.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Mystery, romance, and great characters, all told my a master storyteller. I loved this book and can't wait for Ted Bell to write another. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.
I read 2-3 books a week and I just discovered Ted Bell. The writing is ingenious and the fast paced action keeps you turning the pages. Recommend you read his books in chronological order, since many of the same characters appear in each book.
A lot like Clive Cussler only slightly more believable. A lot of fun to read but it reaches too far beyond believability to make it a truly great read. The pacing is good and the story keeps you involved despite its lack of believability. When shopping for books I tend toward the thicker novels, which is what drew me to this one originally. I did some quick research on the author and the series and settled on this one since it is the first in the Alex Hawke series. The references to the fact that Alex is a direct descendant of the pirate Blackhawke become rather tedious, but it's a good action book nevertheless.
This book was ahead of its time. It's all about what might happen in Cuba if Fidel was out of the picture. The answer is scary. And so is the book. Wow. Highly recommended!!
For somebody who gulps down a ton of thrillers, which I definitely do, it was a thrill to find a new one. Alex Hawke could be the next James Bond in my book! Just great fun and deeply absorbing too. Like a pirate book for grown-ups. Keep 'em coming!
I was beginning to think this whole genre was getting bloated and formula-ridden but this thing kept me riveted and deeply absorbed. It's a new voice and well worth buying. I'd give it six stars just for standing the thriller category on its tin ear!
This book had everything. And I thought Johnny Depp was a great pirate! I'm hooked.
If you like a good action book that is a series where you can follow the charactors from novel to novel, this is one to read. Ted Bell was recommended to me as an author. Since reading this first book, "Hawke", I am now into book 5. I like how the author brings out the humanity in his charactors and how he combines some present day and historical facts into his writing. I'm Hooked.
Great fun in the english spy tradition, Hawke was transporting and a delight. Most appreciated were a flawed hero and a believable love interest. A coup by Cuban generalissimos was credible and timely...Alex Hawke is a modern day Captain Blood and heralds (one hopes) the beginning of a long and exciting saga. Definitely recommend.
Just kept me up all night long and thrilled, not just with the story but the idea that here is a new guy on the scene who hopefully will be around for a long time to come! The whole idea of a coup in Cuba and that it rapidly gets a whole lot worse in a post-Castro world is plausible and there is plenty of detail to make it credible too. A new hero to root for, finally, by a killer storyteller!
Whoa. Whoever said Alex Hawke is the new James Bond got that right! This thriller made my summer! Hawke goes to the Caribbean with an unforgettable cast of characters and confronts a villain to die for. Slam-bang action from the get- go. When's the movie coming out? Think Johnny Depp the pirate in a Savile Row suit. Hey, JD, call your agent!
Actor/voice performer John Shea has said, 'When I read a role, I try to find something I can bring to the role and something that the role can bring to me. Something that I don't know anything about and that the character can teach me.' Such in depth study and exploration of a character is obvious in his commanding reading of Ted Bell's debut action/adventure 'Hawke.' Directly descended from the notorious English pirate Blackhawke, Lord Alexander Hawke knows a lot about seafaring, and a bit about skullduggery himself. As a child he witnessed a horrific scene - the brutal murder of his parents aboard their yacht. Hidden in a compartment the boy was privy to the brutality of the crime and the identity of the killers. As an adult and one of the most decorated heroes in England, Hawke returns to the Caribbean waters where his parents were slain. He's on a secret mission for the U.S. government - find a Soviet built experimental sub carrying 40 nuclear warheads before there is mass destruction. Is there any connection between the criminals controlling the sub and the murderers of Blackhawke's parents? Those with a taste for seagoing adventure and international intrigue will find 'Hawke' much to their liking.
Lord Alex Hawke was seven when he witnessed the brutal murder of his parents in the Caribbean. It haunts the courageous Royal Navy commander the rest of his life. It also drives him to become a deadly, bigger than life hero in a time when most heroes are getting smaller than life. Set in the islands, and modern day Cuba, action, romance, even humor keep the pages turning deep into the night. A great cast of supporting characters and evil Cuban villains. Best adventure thriller in years. Wow. Double wow.
Seven-year-old Alex Hawke is with his parents on their yacht when his father suddenly takes him into a secret room and tells him to hide. The pirate brothers, (Manso, Juanito, and Carlos) demand the treasure map that the pirate Blackhawke made before his hanging three centuries ago. They claim that BlackHawke stole the gold from their ancestor. They torture, rape and kill the Hawkes but fail to obtain the map, which is with Alex in the secret room. Alex blocks out the tragedy and much of the first seven years of his life. He becomes a powerful and wealthy adult who does intelligence work for the British and the American governments. The de Herrera siblings become a force in the Cuban government having access to millions of dollars. They buy a stealth submarine from the Russians that is virtually undetectable and carries forty nuclear warheads. The trio obtains a biological weapon that they sneak into Guantanemo Bay, which they intend to use if the Americans don¿t vacate the base and lift the embargo. The Americans use intelligence gathered by Alex to make war plans but it is his destiny to have the final showdown with the men who killed his parents. Move over James Bond, Lord Alex Hawke is on the scene and he is more realistic, believable and personable than Ian Fleming¿s character ever was. This is an action adventure thriller with the emphasis on action. There is no chance readers will ever feel ennui reading Hawke, a twenty first century pirate novel that takes place on the high seas and in a Cuba where Castro¿s control is waning. Harriet Klausner
This is the second novel I have read by Ted Bell. Just as the first one,it was difficult to put down, but at the same time, I had to put it down in order to absorb the details and take a deep breath from the tension. The book has everything-romance, mystery,adventure and so much more.
My favorite king of thriller. It was exciting AND FUN. I was a little disappointed at the beginning because Mr Bell gives a lot of background and you really do need this background. The book is long and has a lot of great characters(funny, smart, brave). It was a great read for me.
I kept thinking of James Bond, but it was a riveting read. I couldn't put it down for the final few chapters. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
I read this first one years ago, but wanted to have it on my nook. I reread it and enjoyed it as much as the first time I read it. I love all his books!!
Came upon this author by accident and I received quite a pleasant surprise. I loved this book and can't wait to get to reading the rest of the Alex Hawke series. What a great character and what a wonderful story. Loved it! And look forward to reading more.
Makes me want to go back and read all the Alex Hawke series.
This first book of the series got me hooked and I had to read the second book Assassin (Alex Hawke Series #2). Exciting and fun.
Extremely entertaining and enjoyable book. Would like to see a series built around Hawke. Will certainly look for additional books by Mr. Bell!
Ted Bell meanders. His attempts to make Alex Hawke "Bond like" fall short. Way short. And the story line is often lost behind the excessive delving into Hawke's impossible background. More suited to fantasy than fiction. Bell is no Fleming. Hawk is no Bond. Skipped through much of the superfluous dialog and still found it boring. Save your money.
So many things bothered me about this book. I couldn't finish it, I could only suspend my disbelief so much for this James Bond wannabe. Check out Lee Childs Jack Reacher series of Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series if you want a good thriller series with characters you can suspend your disbelief for.
Ted Bell is an average writer. He is better than some, but nowhere near my top 5 or 10. However, I have read every book in this series and will eagerly purchase the next release. The character of Alex Hawke is very likable and I find myself wanting to know in which direction his life will turn next. His companions are all genuinely likable as well, save a few. The main problem with Bell's writings is that he follows very stereotypical guidelines when creating dialog between the characters. Stokely Jones speaks very "ghetto" despite being very intelligent and having been a Navy Seal and NYPD Detective. Hawke's closest companion Congreve is also pigeonholed as a "pip pip cheerio" Brit. I also find that bell sometimes includes information that has no relevance what so ever on the plot, setting the scene, or establishing mood. That being said, Bell is not a bad writer per se, and you too will find yourself rooting for Hawke.