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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Behind The Text’ 25 Jonas Forbes

Behind The Text’ Part 25_ Jonas Forbes

A Flawed Hero

Jonas Forbes is the hero of a series of thrillers set 1954-73 and is a complex mixture of good & bad, strong & weak etc. In other words, he’s not a super-hero, a paladin (or a monster) but a mere human – and he's NOT me! As he was created, aged 35 in ‘And Death Will Have His Day’ (Book 11 in the series but written nearly 40 years ago), there’ve been considerable problems enabling him to ‘mature’. I’ve also had to supply a ‘history’ for him.

Jonas was born on 28 January 1930, the son of an oil executive, and named after a Lithuanian great-grandfather. His siblings were James Timothy (1921–1943), John (1923-5), & Margaret (1926 – 95)  who married John  Fairbrother (1920 –99), a solicitor and they had two sons (see ‘Family Business’ – Book 12). He worshipped his brother, James, killed on a bombing raid in 1943 and erected him as his model (see ‘An Awkward Package’ – Book 5). He attended John Ruskin Central School in Croydon (my old school but over 10 years before me!) where he showed ability in certain ‘practical skills’ but little else. On leaving he entered an Insurance firm, became bored and so joined the army (‘Green Jackets’). He served in the Korean War (1950-53), was awarded a MM & promoted to Second Lieutenant but became bored with peace and resigned (1953). He joined the Kenyan Police during the Mau Mau Emergency (see ‘Stay Alive Runs Away’ – Book 1) but became disillusioned, resigned and became an ‘Enquiry Agent’ in London. SOME of his cases are recorded in the Jonas Forbes Saga and he was killed in Washington on 20 March 1973 (see ‘Endgame at Watergate’ – Book 16). He is buried in Mitcham Road Cemetery, Croydon (where members of my own family are buried) and left a widow, Vanessa, and 3 step-daughters.

A sparse biography, so what about his personality? He’s fearless, resourceful, loyal, lucky, charming (occasionally), persistent, and skilled in various techniques of armed & unarmed combat. He’s easily bored (becoming restless & making rash judgements), sexually active (with women), awkward (especially with bureaucrats and small children), impolite (sometimes), ruthless and occasionally vindictively cruel. He CAN be patient, deceptive, organised and sympathetic – but it all depends on the circumstances.

Jonas makes friends & enemies almost in equal number – and he can provoke both despair in friends and respect in enemies. He’s broken hearts and had his own broken. He’s been frequently disappointed in both the godly & ungodly not getting their deserts, as well as his failure to win the lady – or in the lady he’s won! He’s aroused enmity among some supposed to help him (e.g. bureaucrats) but secured help from defined opponents (e.g. GRU).

Would I have liked him as a friend? Yes, for help in a jam. No, because he’d possibly get me in a jam. Would I trust him? With my life or money, yes: with any woman, no. Do I admire him? Yes, for sticking up for little people and challenging ‘the good & the great’. No, for too often leaving others to pick up the pieces.
In his adventures I’ve tried to show him making mistakes (and usually recovering by luck), achieving a lot but sometimes at an unrecognised cost. In sum, a flawed hero.

Bob Hyslop


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