Created by Brad Latham
BILL “THE HOOK” LOCKWOOD, better known by the nickname he received in his boxing days for his hard-hitting left, is a high-living chief investigator for the Transatlantic Insurance Company out of New York City. He was the hero in a series that tried to stand out from the usual Men’s Adventure formula by offering a touch of class, and making the whole thing a period piece.
Set in the 1930s, the Hook was a World War I vet. He was also a suave gent, an Ivy Leaguer definitely more Bond than Hammer, who lived in a swank hotel, wore Brooks Brothers suits, drove a gunmetal-grey 1937 Cord convertible, smoked Camels and carried a Dunhill lighter and a Colt .38. he wasn’t shy about using. One character actually claims Bill looks “like he just stepped out of an ad for Arrow shirts.”
There’s plenty of that type of world building, and Latham filled the books with enough snappy patter and colourfully named characters (Muffy, Two-Scar, Jabber Jabber, etc.) that even Damon Runyonesque might take notice.
But of course, this being Men’s Adventure, there was also plenty of lovingly detailed violence and even more sex than usual for the genre (particularly in the first book). In fact, the blurb for The Hook #2: Sight Unseen (1981) reads “The Hook is back — Gentleman Private Eye. Violence is his middle name. Sex is his signature.”
So… subtlety isn’t quite what the publishers were aiming for. But Warner’s knew (or thought they knew) what the customers wanted. The Hook appeared in five conveniently numbered paperbacks in all, part of their short-lived Men of Action Books line.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In Crime Fiction IV, Al Hubin suggested that Latham was a pen name of horror writer David J. Schow, although Schow has denied it, while a puffy, out-of-the-blue and rather suspicious bio on Amazon for one of the titles boldly lays the claim that Latham was actually someone named Donald Porter, purportedly a highly educated wheeler dealer and well-regarded professor, NYC real estate developer, hedge funder and author of “thirteeen (sic) books, from science-fiction to sports books, eight of which are novels.”
Yeah, he misspelled “thirteen.”
The latest scuttlebutt is that some of the books may have been written by different authors. According to Joe Kenney of Glorious Trash, “That second volume was so out of line with the first one that it should’ve been clear as day to me when I read it… the first one traded off between gumshoe action featuring oddball gangsters and incredibly explicit sex scenes, whereas the second one didn’t feature much of either.” He goes on to speculate that “a writer named Richard O’Brien wrote the first, third, and fifth volumes of The Hook. I guess it’s still a mystery who wrote volumes two and four.”
- “Good, dirty fun, with graphic sex, plentiful gunplay, and more car chases than an episode of Rockford… Pure cheese….but tasty. Anyone got a spare copy (or five)?”
— Christopher Mills
- The Hook #1: The Gilded Canary (1981) | Buy this book
- The Hook #2: Sight Unseen (1981) | Buy this book
- The Hook #3: Hate Is Thicker Than Blood (1981) | Buy this book
- The Hook #4: The Death Of Lorenzo Jones (1982) | Buy this book
- The Hook #5: Corpses In The Cellar (1982) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Private Eyes by the Number
P.I.s in Men’s Adventure Books
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.