Monday, January 20, 2014

Phantom Lagoon - Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray and Lester Dent)

No new books take me back to the reading pleasures of my youth more than the Doc Savage novels by Will Murray. The latest one, PHANTOM LAGOON, is no exception. It follows the classic Doc Savage opening: someone in trouble shows up in New York looking for Doc, thinking that he's the only one who can right this particular wrong. The bad guys, fearing Doc's involvement, try to prevent that person from reaching him in his skyscraper headquarters. Violent chaos ensues, and we're off to the races.

In this case, the person seeking Doc's help is beautiful blond adventuress Hornetta Hale, who is rescued from an island in the Caribbean where she's been stranded by the villains. Knowing that Doc has his own private submarine, she wants to hire it, but she won't explain why. This would be too much of a mystery for the Man of Bronze to ignore, even if the bad guys hadn't come in and practically destroyed his headquarters and the Hidalgo Trading Company warehouse where he keeps his planes, autogyro, and submersible. With help from his loyal aides, the bickering Monk and Ham, and the unwanted interference of his gorgeous cousin Pat Savage, Doc sets out to track down Hornetta Hale, whose trail which leads to tropical islands, yet another beautiful blonde, a race of sinister mermen who live under the sea, and an evil plot that could change the course of history for the entire world.

As usual, Murray's prose perfectly captures the style of Lester Dent, the original author of the Doc Savage series. His books are longer and the plots more complex than was common in the pulp era, but there's nothing wrong with that. PHANTOM LAGOON speeds along to a climax that's particularly satisfying. I didn't know how Murray was going to resolve everything, but as it turns out, he couldn't have done any better. It's a perfect Doc Savage ending.

I got 'way behind on this series. I've read all three of the books that came out in 2013, but there are still several earlier volumes I need to get to. That's good in a way, because every time I read one, I feel like I'm sitting on my parents' front porch again with a Bantam paperback I picked up off the spinner rack at Lester's Pharmacy or Motts' Five-and-Ten. These days, that feeling is worth a whole lot to me.

You can click on the image below to buy PHANTOM LAGOON at Amazon.


Scott Parker said...

I'm behind, too. I'm still on Skull Island. Aside from the new Doc novels by Murray, I really enjoy his essays from the older reprints. Too bad he doesn't just put them in a book. I'd buy that in a second.

Anonymous said...

I just snapped up the Kindle version of it.

John M. Whalen

RJR said...

Ah, the spinner rack. I remember finding Michael Collins' ACT OF FEAR on a spinner in a drug store I had never been to before, or again after. Quite a find. It always seemed the stores had a spinner rack as a tease, and then more racks of books in the back.


Dani said...

the cover art is beautiful.