Saturday, September 8, 2007

Prof. Dumphart reviews HURRICANE GOLD

Review by Prof. C. Sterling Dumphart, Esq.

Egad!!! I have just had the distinct displeasure of reading this book, Hurricane Gold, and I must warn all of good breeding and proper sensibility to BURN this tome and do not let it fall into the hands of what, astoundingly, is its intended audience: children! For Hurricane Gold is, without a doubt, the most thorough collection of relentless action, sadistic violence, perverse wit, and sheer heart palpitating pace that this cultured reviewer has come across since the days of… oh, what was that man’s name?

Well, never mind the name. We know the name of THIS perpetrator: Charlie Higson. Obviously a man without children. Obviously a man for whom “restraint” means something entirely different from us who show ourselves in the daylight. For if Mr. Higson had children, he would understand that children should be chaste reflections of their parents' best virtues and will certainly have NO interest in a book that features gangsters, gunfights, hurricanes, quick sand crocodiles, scorpions, Mayan ruins, killer ants, black panthers, evisceration by razor wire, and a 13-year-old powering through the flood-swept streets of a Mexican village behind the wheel of a super charged Duesenberg. On this I stake the good name of Dumphart!

Perhaps the most horrific part of reading this 355-page “novel” is the sheer relentless speed at which it travels. I mean, it is impossible to settle down with a cup of warm milk and read a chapter before bed. No. This book is not a proper sleep conduit. In fact, I found my heart so racing that I would frequently have to put the book down and get up and pace! Can you imagine a child’s reaction?

But, apparently and appallingly, these “Young Bond” books do have a following (hellions, delinquents, and arrested adolescents, no doubt) and for those sad miscreants this latest novel may be the equal of the luridly titled Blood Fever. No doubt these “fans” will applaud such flesh-crawlers as Manny the Girl -- a henchman who prowls Mexico severely brain damaged thanks to our “hero” –- and the Avenida de la Muerte –- an obstacle course made up of the most unspeakable horrors –- as new classics. I fear this book will only increase the perverse predilection for more just like it, and do little to dissuade the curious who have yet to indulge. Be warned!

And the girl. Oh yes, the girl. It all starts off well enough. It is nice to see a proper Southern Belle once again grace the pages of a novel, even if she is in… Mexico. But this Precious Stone is a monster! A spoilt brat who, incredibly, speaks in the most unpolitically correct language of the time and browbeats her servants. Yes, it is the 1930s, but, really Mr. Higson, why inject realism into all this? Why not, um, whitewash the less flattering aspects of us members of the ruling class? Are you just trying to be subversive!?

Of course, our proper Southern Belle is soon ravaged by all forms of menace and grows into something of a female version of this despicable and frequently blood-soaked (yes, blood-soaked!) hero… this Bond, Bond James. The less said of Mr. Bond the better. I shudder in recalling his name because with his relentless destruction of property and overt defiance of his elders, he is obviously a symbol of societal ANARCHY even at the age of 13 (a fact which I had to keep reminding myself –- certainly it is possible to read this entire book and picture the hero as age 35).

And what of Jack Stone, the responsible parent in this pulp! He is a World War I flying ace. Very nice. It is commendable to see Mr. Higson, the sadist, include a nod to our boys in uniform. But, really! To inject complex themes about what happens to war heroes when they are not needed anymore (oh, yes, Mr. Higson, we noticed). One only has to study recent wars to know that is… well, forget that for now. My point is this author has the gall to inject DEPTH of characterization and complexity into this adventure fantasy as if it were a proper novel! Again, this reminds me of… oh, what was his name!?

Really, our children had a proper literary hero in Harry Potter (apart from the devil worship). But Mr. Bond is no Harry Potter. At least Mr. Potter went to school! Here, apparently for the first time in this “series,” we have no scenes set at Eton College whatsoever and I suppose those who enjoy these lurid tales will find the book better for this.

Oh, Mr. Higson does remind us of Mr. Bond’s more civilized life back in England with the occasional letter from his better bred classmates. But even those are tinged with MENACE! Who is this beastly Theo Bentinck who is delivering beatings to the boys, and what of this attractive new maid, Roan? No doubt she will be subjected to the attentions of this brute Bond upon his return. Yes, there will be a fifth and final novel, and one can only fear what new perversities Mr. Higson is dreaming up at this moment inside his garret!

Finally, the very form of the book itself… Suffice to say it is as much a vulgarity outside as in. It is GOLD. So golden one can see one's own appalled expression in its face. And this is not a quick coating of flock. It is done with care! Likewise, the pages are leafed and the endpapers emblazoned with the logo of this series. Good money was spent here by publisher Puffin suggesting PRIDE in this book! Oh, what is happening to the world of letters?

Let me close by saying that Hurricane Gold by Charlie Higson is the most objectionable novel I have had the bad fortune to encounter since the days of…ah, at last the villain’s name has come to mind…

Ian Fleming!!!

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