Levity aside, I reread the first Doc Savage book, The Man of Bronze. It's a pulp classic, full-throttle pulp energy, throwing everything at the reader while still serving as a decent introduction to its characters and milieu. Doc's father, Clark Savage, Se., just died from a mysterious illness, and his son "Doc," aka Clark Savage, Jr., sets out with his five best friends to avenge his death. But he's attacked in his lab by mysterious assassins who seem to be Mayan, and the trail leads to a lost valley in Central America, a pocket of ancient Mayans, and to a confrontation with a vicious criminal who uses germ warfare to control a valuable resource.
It's nonsense, but it's energetic nonsense that's a ton of fun. It's got Haggardian lost civilizations coupled with Doc's slightly sci-fi gadgetry (what might now be termed "dieselpunk"). It's a worthy introduction to the series.
|I mean, c'mon, how gay is this?|
And then I dipped into more pulp...
Cleek himself becomes insufferable. He's almost moved to tears about the possible murder of a young boy, but it's so overdone and dramatic that it seems insincere. He's impossibly noble and forbearing, as well as profoundly judgmental and frequently correct in his snap judgments of people. And naturally, it ends with him being offered the crown of the country he's prince of (he's an exiled prince of a central European county, y'know), but he rejects it out of love for a common woman.
Some have wondered if Cleek was a Mary Sue for Hanshew; he's impossibly noble and blessed with every virtue, as well as being an actual prince and the object of adoration for nearly every person he meets. Not knowing much about Hanshew, I can't say.
Last up is The Benson Murder Case, the first of the Philo Vance series by S. S. Van Dine, aka Willard Huntington Wright. In this, Philo Vance, wealthy dilettante, is allowed by his pal District Attorney John S.F.X. Markham to poke around a real murder scene. Vance figures out who must be the murderer right away, and leads everyone else on a merry chase as lets on that he knows but won't share his methods or knowledge until the end.
It's a little annoying, to say the least. The crime itself isn't all that interesting (a broker is found shot in his home), and the jumping from one interview to the next gets a bit tedious. Vance himself is quite annoying at times, superior and supercilious, very affected in manner and speech, often seeming like a total prissy queen. However, it's kind of interesting on a meta level, as it was based on a real murder (the unsolved shooting of bridge expert Joseph Browne Elwell in 1920), and a method used in the book of determining a shooter's height is utter nonsense.
On the plus side, it's overflowing with real 20s atmosphere, something I always enjoy.
So, that's a sampling of some less-than-thrillworthy stuff I've read lately...entertaining enough, to be sure, but not always up to the standards one would like to employ.
More fun stuff on the way....