Sunday, May 20, 2012

Doc Savage: The Desert Demons - Will Murray

I've been a Doc Savage fan ever since I picked up a copy of METEOR MENACE from the paperback spinner rack in Tompkins' Drugstore in 1964, when it, along with THE MAN OF BRONZE and THE THOUSAND-HEADED MAN, was published to launch Bantam's long-running reprint series. (Long-running is an understatement. Bantam reprinted all 181 novels from the original pulps, plus a lost novel, plus several original novels by author and Doc Savage expert Will Murray, based on fragments and outlines by Lester Dent, the co-creator and main author of the pulp series.)

After a hiatus of several years, Murray is now writing new Doc Savage novels again, the first of which is THE DESERT DEMONS. I just read it, and as a Doc fan of nearly 50 years, I can safely say that it's great stuff. California is being terrorized by mysterious red clouds that descend from the heavens to destroy anything they touch. Oilfield wildcatters and colorful Hollywood moguls are running around in a panic. Doc's aides show up to investigate and are attacked by a crazed meteorologist. Pat Savage, Doc's beautiful cousin, is missing.

And that's just in the first few chapters.

The pace never lets up for long, with Murray skillfully breaking up the multitude of breath-taking action scenes with the sort of comedy that fans of the series have come to expect, mostly involving Doc's aides Monk and Ham. (To be fair, some people don't care for this aspect of the series, but I grew up reading the books and it's just part of the Doc Savage universe as far as I'm concerned.) Before the book is over, we get a great scene of a dirigible being attacked by the demonic clouds, as well as a chapter entitled "Gator Hell". How can you not love that? Murray tops it all off with an intriguing explanation for the phenomenon of the Desert Demons and a satisfying ending.

As most of you know, the past week or so has been pretty stressful for me, without much time to read. But when I did get a chance to sit down and read a few chapters of this book, it never failed to entertain me. THE DESERT DEMONS is well-written, with Murray proving once again to be a master of recapturing Dent's style, and for Doc Savage fans it should be pure fun. For this Doc Savage fan it was a great escape. Thanks, Will.

(THE DESERT DEMONS is available in both trade paperback and e-book editions. Murray has two more original Doc Savage novels out now, HORROR IN GOLD and the just-released THE INFERNAL BUDDHA. And both of them are already on my Kindle, waiting to be read soon.)


Charles Gramlich said...

These I will give a try.

Heath Lowrance said...

That's great news. I had no idea Murray was writing these. I love the Destroyer books, and Doc Savage is also an all-time favorite, so how could it go wrong?

Todd Mason said...

And glad things are getting so you can get some reading in. Continued improving luck.