A BLOW FOR GABRIEL HORN
His twenty-first birthday - the day of Gabriel Horn's elevation to the board of his father's firm and his certain debut into the dolce vita. Fast cars, unlimited cash and any bird he fancies from the assembly line - things are looking good! But his father's got other ideas. He's not going to hand over his business to a waster as easily as that. So a challenge is devised - if Gabriel gets round the world in one year with only a fiver to start him off, then the good life is his. At first unable to believe his misfortune, Gabriel soon takes things in hand and embarks on a series of side-splitting adventures that test his charm, ingenuity and amatory cunning to their limits....
There is a Hardback edition WH Allen and two paperback editions came out on Star later in the same year.There was also a published extract in Penthouse magazine in 1977. Accompanied by some fairly gaudy illustrations, the extract was an abridged and heavily edited 3 pages that don't bare too much resemblance to the original.
The first (and most common) paperback edition features a surprised looking blond girl having a finger jabbed in her mouth - not quite sure of the significance but it always struck me as one of the more surreal Morgan cover shots. As per the "Skyjacked" cover it was photographed by Beverley Le Barrow. The hardback edition has different fonts for some reason. Edition #2 borrows the same layout/fonts as the last couple of Tobin books and features another completely naked woman dressed (or rather undressed) as a sailor rubbing a periscope up against her leg seductively (ahoy me hearties etc). Times were clearly changing as the book covers were getting more explicit as the 70s wore on, but the picture is only tenuously linked to the story. Gabriel does end up with a couple of girls, boating on the Thames but neither of them bear any resemblance to the model. 3/10 for the first edition and 5/10 for the second.
My learned colleague Prof. Thatcher always wanted to write the review for Gabriel Horn, but after 18 years of waiting I should probably just get on with it!
Gabriel is a good character, and in comparison to Tobin, Comfort and Shifty, he's different in almost every way apart from his good looks and popularity with every female that looks at him. He spends most of the book acting like a pitiful loser as he is denied his inheritance, stripped of his cushy life and instead challenged by his Father to travel round the world on a Fiver in order to prove his worth. Farcical situations abound and let's just say that by the end of the book he hasn't exactly got very far (distance-wise), and has lost that Fiver (and more) along the way. That said, he's had lots of fun with the ladies he's crossed paths with, and that's why people bought the books after all. There is the obligatory Vodka Tonic on page 176, and the whole Advert casting session set piece is very reminiscent of the early Tobin storyline. The twist with Gabriel is that, unlike Russ who started with nothing and appreciated everything he got, Gabriel starts with everything but appreciates none of it until he's lost it. A blow indeed.
I once asked Stan if the title of the book was in anyway a subtle pun on the calculus expression referring to Gabriel's Horn being an infinitely large..ahem..instrument. Stan denied all knowledge of the maths angle and said it was merely "an adequate triple entendre...(a) his various set-backs (b) the expellation of air required to activate the instrument (c) anything else you can think of."
7/10 - if only Stan had been given chance to develop the story line and character more, then we're sure Gabe would have been up there giving old Russ Tobin a run for his money. The story certainly had a long way to go, and a defined path (Gabriel's challenge being that he had to get from London to Paris and then back to London via Sydney, Australia in no less than one year) - so unlike the Randy Comfort and Albert Shifty books where the lack of a follow-up was no great loss, I still wonder what happened to Mr. Horn