Do clothes really make the man? Murphy’s Hero by G. A. Hauser introduces us to Alexander Parker, a young man who works in the British Museum and who adores Greek and Roman History. Alexander is shy to the point of being socially backward, but he cares enough for his fellow man to step in to help when there is an emergency. This is what catches the eye of Adrian Mackenzie. Adrian is the editor of an erotic gay periodical, and he is floored by the beautiful long-haired man who takes charge during an incident in the subway.
When a Greek helmet falls into Alexander’s hands, he can’t resist trying it on. It’s only by accident that he rushes to the assistance of a woman in danger still wearing the helmet, but this starts a trend. Soon Alexander is spending his free time fighting crime in full Greco-Roman regalia. The newspapers pick up the story, and “Naked-Roman-Soldier-man” becomes front-page news. While Adrian worries about Alexander’s safety, Alexander worries about what will happen if the papers discover he is gay. Will London accept a gay superhero, or will they abandon him in disgust?
In Murphy’s Hero, G. A. Hauser gives us a little food for thought: what makes a man a hero? Is it his actions or his mask and cape? What if we found a hero who was a little bit different? Would we revile his differences, or would we accept him for who he is? These questions are rolled up in a package that is amusing, animated and thoroughly entertaining. Once again, Ms. Hauser has taken less-than-perfect men and has given them the chance to become more, Alexander especially. He is sweet, innocent, and not terribly smart, but his good heart shines through, and his brave nature is revealed when he can hide behind the anonymity of the helmet. With Adrian’s love and attention, he slowly moves out of his painfully shy shell, faces the world, and sees that sometimes the world smiles back at him.
This story has more than its fair share of intensely comic moments that make Murphy’s Hero a delight to read. The vision of a hapless Alexander walking home with his head stuck in a Corinthian helmet is enough to inspire laughter, and his two female officemates almost steal the show with their antics. Readers of Ms. Hauser’s other novels will appreciate how she weaves characters from other stories into her books. Although their role is cameo, Ian and Scott from The Kiss make an appearance. Readers may also recognize that Murphy’s Hero is the name of Ewan Gallagher’s movie in For Love and Money. For those looking for a lively read with a little thought attached, Murphy’s Hero may be just the ticket.