Gabriel Hunt at the Well of Eternity
Gabriel Hunt (James Reasoner)
Leisure Books, 2009
First Line: Gabriel Hunt tugged at the tight collar around his neck and grimaced as he failed to loosen it.
Leisure Books is of course an imprint of Dorchester Publishing the same publishing house responsible for the Hard Case Crime imprint. Of course none of this should be a surprise at since, as this review points out, the series is the brainchild of Charles Ardai; the man behind Hard Case crime. I was first attracted to this series thanks to the clever use of the character’s name as the author. While this somewhat meta-fictional conceit doesn’t extend to the rest of the novel and is traded for a straight-forward no-nonsense third-person narrative. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing since Gabriel Hunt at the Well of Eternity was a brisk novel full of action, suspense, and excitement.
The series, The Adventures of Gabriel Hunt, is describes on its website as follows:
From the towers of Manhattan to the jungles of South America, from the sands of the Sahara to the frozen crags of Antarctica, one man finds adventure everywhere he goes: GABRIEL HUNT.
Backed by the resources of the $100 million Hunt Foundation and armed with his trusty Colt revolver, Gabriel Hunt has always been ready for anything—but is he prepared for the adventures that lie in wait for him?
Hunt is a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond. Like the Indiana Jones series Hunt blends historical swashbuckling with the occasional dose of supernatural/unexplainable. Indeed as Gabriel relates at one point in the novel, and I paraphrase, “an old friend of my father, an unmarried professor, taught me how to use [a bullwhip].” While the series takes place in present day Gabriel’s signature weapon of choice is an antique Colt Peacemaker. It’s an interesting symbolic choice; the Colt is a uniquely identifiable symbol of America’s past that is in many ways the American West’s equivalent of a knight’s sword.
Gabriel Hunt at the Well of Eternity wastes little, or rather no time, on lengthy introductions to our hero focusing instead on throwing the reader right into the action. The collar loosening of the opening line segues neatly into the introduction of a beautiful woman jumps from there into a lengthy gunfight with a side of fisticuffs quickly makes its way to car chase followed by a boat chase followed by a…you get the idea. A bare minimum of exposition keeps the reader up to speed on the historical mystery portion of the novel. Not that it’s too complicated. The title of the novel and the end of the opening scene give a pretty good idea of what our endgame is going to be about.
Of course a book like this is more about the ride getting there more than anything else. The byword of this novel is excitement. The quiet moments are few and Reasoner does his damnedest to keep readers on the edge of their seats and to keep the pages turning. While the novel didn’t grip in the kind of fervor that would keep me up reading until 2 AM it did have me constantly wondering what kind of shenanigans Hunt would have come up with to get out of each new bit of trouble. Of course I never once questioned that Gabriel would find his way out each certain death situation.
Gabriel Hunt at the Well of Eternity takes readers from the Manhattan museum, to the swamps of Florida, to the jungles of Mexico all in just over 230 pages. It is a book that doesn’t ask big questions about life and existence, nor does it provide you with any startling insight into the nature of humanity. What it does do is provide you with a thrilling non-stop edge-of-your-seat romp through exotic locales full of adventure and peril. If an afternoon of excitement and diversion from your rather ordinary life is what your looking for then Gabriel Hunt is the man you’re looking for.