Warning: This review contains plot spoilers and graphic content.
If you are completely unfamiliar with radio host Michael Savage, his debut novel, Abuse of Power, will likely read like an ordinary cheap supermarket thriller, with gaping plot holes, serial clichés, and leaps of logic. The villains deliver long monologues about their evil plans instead of acting on them, and women are powerless against the charms of the hero, a James Bond/Jason Bourne knockoff.
But if you know Savage and his personal history, the book becomes something else entirely: a bizarre and hilarious fantasy fulfillment in which caricatures of Savage's real-life enemies (George Soros, elements of the British Government, Media Matters, Muslim terrorists, and the PC police) are all working in coordination to destroy the book's protagonist -- seemingly a fantasy version of Savage himself -- who fights terrorists and British thugs, has sex (narrated in graphic detail) with beautiful women, and saves San Francisco from being destroyed by a nuclear weapon.
Jack Hatfield Is James Bond (And Is Probably Also Michael Savage)
A WorldNetDaily article promoting Savage's novel reported that the book would "be based in part on one of the most controversial episodes in the unfettered talker's personal experience," and quotes Savage as saying the novel would represent a "fictionalized account of being banned from Britain and hunted by overbearing governments."
In a February radio segment, Savage explained that his book would "surpass" Kerouac's On the Road and beat "Dharma Bums in its depiction of San Francisco and the bay. Only Jack London will be left standing for me to top, and that'll occur in the next incarnation of the next novel." During that segment, Savage said that the book is "loosely based upon my being banned in Britain."
Indeed, Savage includes plenty of hints that protagonist "Jack Hatfield" is a fictionalized version of himself:
- Savage, who has spent years railing against Media Matters, describes Jack as a character who lost his television show due to a "smear campaign" that was "carefully orchestrated by a radical watchdog group called Media Wire." (Hatfield loses his distinguished weekly talk show in the book due to comments he made about Muslims that were taken "out of context" by Media Wire. In real life, Savage lost his MSNBC show after making anti-gay slurs on the air.)
- One of the main villains on Savage's real life radio show is George Soros. In the book, an "eighty-one-year-old" billionaire who "made his fortune by betting against national currencies" is the man who orchestrated the campaign to destroy Jack's career.
- In the book, Jack -- like Savage in real life -- is banned from traveling to the United Kingdom.
- In real life, Savage has a beloved poodle named Teddy. In the book, Jack has a beloved poodle named Eddie.
There are plenty more, but you get the picture. Unless Savage has been leading a rather impressive double-life, Hatfield represents a fantasy version of Savage. Jack Hatfield is basically the Most Interesting Man in the World. An incomplete list of his various talents includes: master interviewer and editor, Krav Maga martial arts expert, sex god, weapons expert, and the kind of guy who can disassemble a Glock and use "the gun parts as a lock pick."
"Enjoy the virgins, asshole"
Following in the tradition of Glenn Beck's The Overton Window, the plot of Abuse of Power is equal parts convoluted and nonsensical. The writing doesn't quite reach the level of laziness that Glenn Beck and his many co-authors achieved in The Overton Window, but here's a brief recap.
Jack Hatfield is a former war correspondent whose credibility has been destroyed by an evil media watchdog. Struggling against an establishment that doesn't believe anything he says, Hatfield uncovers a plot to destroy San Francisco hatched by Muslim terrorist group Hand of Allah (working in coordination with elements of the British government).
After much globetrotting, terrorist-punching, and love-making, it is revealed that the mastermind (and money) behind the whole plan is none other than the obvious George Soros stand-in, Lawrence Soren.
Soren, whom Jack always thought "looked like a former SS officer," is presented as a raging anti-Semite who wants to help Hand of Allah detonate a nuclear weapon in the U.S. in order to enact a regime change and put "an end to this Zionist stranglehold." Soren works in coordination with a few American politicians, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and an undersecretary at the British Home Office, among others.
In one of the book's many mindless nods to cliché, Soren reveals the entire evil plot to Jack in a gloating, long-winded speech, and asks Jack to join his cause because he's just so damn talented: "You're a wonderful communicator, Jack. You have a friendly, trustworthy manner about you, but you can be a bulldog when you need to and people respond to it."
Jack declines, and Soren orders him tortured for information and then killed. Thanks to Jack's incredible Krav Maga martial arts maneuvers (and use of a laser pointer to blind assailants), he manages to escape a compound filled with heavily armed men (for at least the third time in the book).
Working with several retired military men, Jack is able to stop the evil plot, which culminates in a fistfight (to stop the lead terrorist from detonating the nuke) at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Jack pummels the Muslim terrorist savagely (or Savagely?), and then delivers the requisite action-hero catchphrase, "Enjoy the virgins, asshole":
Blinded by fury, by pain, Jack hit the man like a linebacker. They both went down. Climbing to his knees, Jack punched down, blow after blow, driving the man's head against the metal of the bridge. Haddad's hands came up defensively but Jack yelled and swatted them aside, continuing to slam his fists at that evil face, fueled by hatred for everything the man had done, everything he stood for. Ignoring the pain in his shoulder, [Ed note: Jack was shot in the shoulder during his daring escape] Jack thought only about Sara and Copeland and Drabinsky and Jamal, thought about the havoc people like this brought to the world, used his fists to turn thought into action.
And then Haddad stopped struggling, his breath coming in bloody gurgles, his face raw and torn. But if he somehow expected Jack to be merciful, he'd picked the wrong night. Without a second thought, Jack grabbed hold of the man's shirt and dragged him back against the rail, flopped him against it, stared at the pulped flesh and bloody wisp of a beard.
"Enjoy the virgins, asshole."
Jack slammed his open hands hard against Haddad's chest, the terrorist's battered eyelids going wide with horror as he sailed over the side of the tower to the pavement five hundred feet below, his terrified screams rising into the night sky. [pg. 353]
"Jack had no doubt she was exquisitely proportioned"
Savage describes the San Francisco of the book as a place populated by "girls hurrying to dates with their girlfriends in this gay-friendly town where straight men were as rare as eagles." Savage makes abundantly clear that Jack is one of the heterosexual eagles. Perhaps the most heterosexual.
In Abuse of Power, beautiful women just can't stop having sex with Jack Hatfield. Jack is divorced from a woman that he "met while doing a segment for one of his shows, The World of the Runway Model," and he explains at one point the "sex between them had been great for years, endless and heated." The passing reference to the heated lovemaking with his gorgeous ex-wife is just one of several instances in which Savage drops references to the sexual prowess of Jack.
For seemingly no reason whatsoever, early in the book, Savage describes Jack in bed remembering a night he'd spent with a "beautiful blue-eyed Czech woman he'd met at a bar in town," who treated him like a "groupie with a rock star":
She was a stunning woman, with the longest legs Jack had ever seen close-up, and when she peeled off her dress, revealing that she had no tan lines whatsoever, he found himself instantly ready for her.
Jack had always been a proponent of the slow build but this woman had no interest in that. Before he could get his pants all the way off, she was reaching for him like a groupie with a rock star, pulling him to her bed, her body trembling, her breathing shallow, and a look in her eyes that said, You can do anything you want to me, but do it now.
Jack did, with fierce intensity as she clutched him to her, her breasts pressed against him, her nails digging into his back, her teeth scraping at his earlobe as she whispered softly to him.
The whispers were quickly replaced by moans that grew louder and more urgent with every passing moment -- to the point where Jack thought he might be causing her pain. Finally she cried out, clutching him even tighter as her body stiffened, then shuddered in release. Jack soon followed, then collapsed against her, every nerve ending tingling. Then he rolled away from her and fell against the pillow, trying to catch his breath, and fell asleep. [pg. 55]
Important character backstory, surely -- without knowing he had "always been a proponent of the slow build," the reader would be completely lost when Jack was beating up terrorists later in the book.
Jack's camerawoman (he's a journalist, remember) is a "tall, city born triathlete" of "Somali descent" named Maxine. In addition to being skilled with a camera, her character's main purpose is to be propositioned by Hatfield and his friends. Don't worry though: she enjoys it.
Here's a characteristic interaction between Jack and Maxine, who at this point are on their way into the ghetto to investigate a carjacking:
Max shook her head. Jack didn't know if she admired his thinking or just thought he was crazy.
"You didn't have to come along, you know," he reminded her. "You could've stayed home."
Max sighed. "Somebody's gotta protect you from yourself. And when have I ever told you no?"
"I can think of a couple times."
The light turned green and Jack saw a flicker of a smile on Max's lips as she rolled her eyes, then face forward and hit the gas. "You're lucky I did, Casanova. You wouldn't know how to handle me."
Jack grinned. "Neither will the gangstas in Sunnydale." [pp. 94-95]
The love interest in the book is a Muslim woman named Sara. The fact that she's a Muslim is apparently supposed to serve as proof that the real-life Michael Savage is not an Islamophobe. See, he wrote a book where the character he seemingly based loosely on himself falls in love with and has great sex with a Muslim woman -- what person who has issues with Muslims would do that? (Savage hits readers over the head with the apparent contradiction between Jack being viewed as an Islamophobe and his character finding a "soul mate" that is "A Muslim woman, if that didn't beat all.") Their relationship is perhaps the least believable thing in a book, which is no mean distinction.
The first time Jack spots Sara, she is wearing a hijab and "loose-fitting" clothes. However, Hatfield is still capable of checking out her body. Savage writes, "Her dress was modest and loose-fitting and hid her body, but Jack had no doubt she was exquisitely proportioned." (A few pages later, Jack sees her again, this time wearing a sweater and jeans. Savage confirms that Jack "had been right about the woman. Her body was spectactular.")
Here's the arc of their relationship: Jack believes she is involved with the terrorist group, so he tracks her through the streets of London (at one point using his bloodhound-like sense of smell to follow the scent of her hand lotion). He catches up with her at the same time as the British villain arrives on the scene. She punches Jack, who is "more surprised than hurt," and he immediately kicks her legs out from under her.
The two are then captured and tortured, but Jack is able to escape. Jacks rescues Sara -- whose "sweater, shirt, and bra had been stripped away, exposing her naked torso" -- thanks to more of his martial arts skills. They take a train to Paris, where they are chased by armed assailants who slaughter Sara's friends and colleagues (who had been secretly working against the terrorist threat).
Once they are finally back in London and alone, she takes off all of her clothes and pounces on him. No, really.
She closed the door behind her now, then moved to a small television in the corner and turned it on, tuning it to an Arab station, which was only playing Arabic music at the moment. Jack wasn't sure what she was up to but he didn't protest when she came over to the bed and lit the scented candle that was sitting on the nightstand. Her long brown hair was highlighted against the window and he saw a light snow falling outside.
He didn't know if he should trust this, or her motives. It didn't matter. He instantly felt himself stirring.
"I don't want to be alone right now," she said, then reached a hand under the back of her T-shirt and unfastened her bra, dropping it to the floor. Her breasts shifted, reacting instantly to the brush of the fabric.
He didn't look away this time. "Neither do I."
"I want to forget for a while, Jack. Can you help me do that?"
"You have no idea how much I'd like to try."
He hadn't bothered to take off his clothes before lying on top of the bed,and she came to him, reaching for his belt and unbuckling it. She unfastened his pants and pulled them away, freeing him, then took him in her hand, gently kneading him as she leaned forward and kissed his lips.
The she pulled away, whispering softly against his cheek, "Make me forget, Jack. Please make me forget."
As he drew nearer and removed her T-shirt and panties, she began to moan deeply and loudly. Loudly and deeply. In the midst of their heat, such a state of abandon was reached that the normally voyeuristic Jack, who liked to watch himself make love, actually fell from the bed onto the hot radiator. But, like the Indian fakirs who can be on a bed of nails without later showing puncture marks, Jack did not scorch or burn, nothing visible remaining except a small soreness days later.
Once he was inside her, she began to cry and shudder in a series of small convulsions. He had never been with a woman who reacted like this and was both surprised and excited by her abandon.
Her cries became veritable screams as she moaned, and her eyes became glassy with passion. As Jack continued to bring Sara to an increasingly greater state of tension and release, tension -- a violent begging for release and then the convulsive wave -- her screaming became threatening.
He tried to quiet her by putting his hands over her mouth while continuing to stroke with his loins and lips.
"Quiet,quiet," he tried to command hoarsely. "Faisal will hear you." He reached for her T-shirt and couldn't believe himself as he pressed it over her mouth, holding it down hard against her lips by pressing it against the sheets, one hand on each side of her face.
Their hips were in perfect synchony and she continued her cries and screams, now muffled beneath the shirt, as Jack made love to her as he had never made love before. Sara bucked and arched and was in a world he could never see. [pp. 252-253]
When all is said and done, she pours her heart out about why she turned away from radicalism, and from that point on we are supposed to believe they are in love.
Savage penned a two book deal with St. Martin's press, so we've got another one of these to look forward to.