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Phantom (Alexander Hawke, Book 7) Paperback – March 20, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 225 customer reviews
Book 7 of 7 in the Alex Hawke Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Phantom is a book you may not want to put down. . . . Hawke is the protagonist of this novel, and he is as cool a customer as this reviewer has run across for some time. (Newbern Sun Journal on Phantom)

“A thoroughly enjoyable spy novel . . . warm weather makes one want to dive into the summer beachside books and Ted Bell’s Phantom is a great start.” (Iron Mountain Daily News on Phantom)

“This is a scary book . . . Bell never lets up on the action in this very well written tale. . . . I had to pause to take a breath before seeing what came next.” (Suspense Magazine on Phantom)

“A terrific nonstop action tale . . . Gripping from the vivid Disney World disaster until the final confrontation with a brilliant Phantom.” (The Mystery Gazette on Phantom)

“There’s new dimension to Alexander Hawke, the James Bond-like MI6 operative whom men want to be and women want to bed. . . . Bell keeps the tone light and the level of derring-do high. Fine escapist fare.” (Library Journal on Phantom)

“[Phantom] keeps the reader involved with its charmingly unflappable hero . . . as well as the ease with which it unfolds on multiple continents, on land and in air.” (Kirkus Reviews on Phantom)

“[Hawke’s] most personal mission yet. . . . the story is tense and exciting. A perfect read for Clive Cussler fans.” (Booklist on Phantom)

“Exciting . . . A terrific, final naval battle shows Alex at his fighting finest.” (Publishers Weekly on Phantom)

“Hawke is . . . strong, shrewd and savvy, with an aplomb not seen since James Bond. In other words, Bond, eat your heart out . . . there’s a new spy in town. (NPR on Warlord)

“As enlightening as it is scary. . . . Ted Bell packs so many action-amped scenarios into Alex Hawke’s seventh adventure, it’s so often hard to catch one’s breath. If you crave spy thrills with a Bond on steroids, visit the bloody British world of Ted Bell’s Alex Hawke.” (Rankin Ledger on Phantom)

From the Back Cover

Counterspy Alex Hawke must catch a villainous megalomaniac—a man obsessed with horrifying experiments in cyberwarfare—in this mesmerizing new espionage thriller in Ted Bell's New York Times bestselling series

The first and most bizarre event nearly becomes a monumental catastrophe when something goes awry at an American theme park, wreaking havoc on visitors looking for nothing more than a sun-splashed holiday. In a different part of the country, a USAF F-15 pilot, escorting another jet in the skies over the Midwest, inexplicably loses control of his plane, endangering the lives of several people and deeply puzzling those following his mission on the ground. Then, in the misty calm of a coastal California evening, the world's premier scientist on the subject of artificial intelligence gets a strange phone call. When he hangs up, he quietly grabs his coat and leaves for an after-dinner stroll from which he never returns.

It's up to Hawke and the brilliant former inspector Ambrose Congreve to find out what could possibly be happening. But how does one identify—and fight—an enemy one can't see, a real phantom? Even these seasoned operatives are mystified. Is there really such a thing as an ultra-intelligent machine, a cyberweapon that can shift the geopolitical balance of power?

In a hunt that takes him from Palo Alto, California, to the Russian frontier, to Cambridge University and the glistening Mediterranean aboard his newly christened and armed super-yacht Blackhawke, Alex Hawke is joined by the unstoppable Stokely Jones and his ex-CIA buddy Harry Brock as he moves closer to unmasking the scientist behind these extraordinary events, going nose-to-nose with an enemy unlike any he's fought before—and may never again.

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Product Details

  • Series: Alexander Hawke
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: WilliamMr; First Edition edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061859303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061859304
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Konrad Kern VINE VOICE on April 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
See book summaries above.
While this has not been my favorite Ted Bell thriller, of which i've read all, but it still ranks up there as great entertainment. I love the science aspects when combined with awesome adventure. Sure it stretches beyond belief but thats what I love about escapist fiction. Fun and scary.
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I have really enjoyed the Hawke series of books. I noted in Tsar that suspension of disbelief needed to make it even remotely plausible was getting way out of line. With this book it has gone to the completely absurd to where the book is not as enjoyable as some of the previously more realistic works from Mr. Bell. I get that the plot lines have to stretch the realm of reality often times to seem fresh, but this is just so out there. It is clear to me Mr. Bell did a great deal of research into the field of singularity, and while it is an interesting topic, I believe it simply went too far in this novel to the point it couldn't be taken seriously. A phone call with music, and suddenly top scientific minds commit unthinkable acts of terror?

I also have gotten to the point that I simply cannot even take Hawke's background and heritage seriously any longer. An MI-6 agent whose family left him a fortune that enables him to have his own personal G5, and his own operating budget within MI6 that is equivalent to the entire MI6 budget itself? Come on. Then there is the plot, the villain in a flying wheel chair, the underwater computer, the parallel universe nonsense, mind control, etc? Much of this book can be summed up in one word: absurd.

I will add that I really did enjoy the last many chapters of the novel. Once the computer was done, and villain in his flying wheel chair eliminated, I felt like the naval battle was incredibly well done. Upon reflecting further on the book, I wouldn't say it was a total loss because there were many thought provoking tings as well as some really great, and realistic action over the last 10 chapters. I do still look forward to the next Alex Hawke book from Mr. Bell. I think my initial thoughts were a bit hasty, and upon thinking about it a bit I would give it a rating of "okay". There are some great moments here, but some of the ride to along the way to get to them was a bit more painful than I would have liked.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
First, let me say, I have read many of Ted Bell’s books, and have always enjoyed his Alex Hawke series of books. I found this book to have all the action, for which Bell is famous, as well as the continuation of Lord Hawke’s adventures. Bell also, has a point he is trying to make regarding “The Singularity” - that point where AI computers reach parity with the human brain.

However, Bell, in this novel has a number of glaring errors - not in his development of the story line, nor in his computer research into AI, but the little things that he adds to make the story come alive. Here are but a few of the items that hit me as off:

1) Bell has the President of Iran saying “reassert our dominance in the Arab world” - no Iranian would ever say such a thing – they are not part of the Arab world, since Iranians are not Arabs. In fact, if you want to really tick off an Iranian – call him an Arab! (Page 275)
2) The Metropol Hotel in Moscow did not seem to me to be as intimidating as described by Bell – although it has been more than 20 years since I have been there – the photos on TripAdvisor show me that little has changed since it was operated by the Intercont hotel chain. And the bugs would not have been in lamps, they would have been embedded in the walls. (Pages 330-2)
3) For some reason authors, Bell included, just cannot help themselves and keep putting a sound suppressor on a revolver in their novels. Suppressors do not work on revolvers, due to the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. (Page 341)
4) The author has a boat owner in Portofino, Italy renting his boat for “500 lire per hour” – Italy has been on the Euro since 2003. (Page 413)

I use the above four items merely to show an inattention to detail.
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I have seen a real range of reviews here from "awful" to "great". I actually am one of those that enjoyed the book. It was a quick read and I think I stayed up until 3am reading the last 200 or so pages as I wanted to see how it ended. As a computer scientist myself, I did not find the plot as far fetched as some reviewers did. Compute power has come a long way in recent years and while we may not yet be at the singularity Bell describes we are living in an age where technology is evolving very rapidly.
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I've read all of the Ted Bell Hawke series books and I liked this one the best. Rarely do I find a book that I get so immersed in that I don't want to put it down, but this was one. However, I felt at times the story was science fiction. You do have to suspend disbelief when you read this book.

As far as Mr. Bell's next book, how does he top the futuristic notion of Singularity and Perseus's unlimited power? What's next, Hawke, Stoke, Brockley, and Ambrose fighting aliens?

Maybe Mr. Bell got ahead of himself here, but still it was a very entertaining read.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book more than the others in the series. The main flaw is the lead character Alex Hawke. He's a dork. His main American friend is a black stereotype that also makes me laugh. However, despite these major character flaws, the acts of terrorism were exciting and the problems posed by artificial intelligence quite interesting. The book moves along. The subplots involving Hawke's son and Hawke's personal life were a drag, but, fortunately, were only subplots and did not overly detract from the escalating acts of cyber terrorism.
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