Friday, December 06, 2019

Forgotten Books: Return from Cormoral - Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent)

The Spring 1949 issue of DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE was the second to feature a classic-style Doc novel in the old familiar pulp size that had been restored with the previous issue. “Return From Cormoral” features an excellent George Rozen cover that’s really evocative of Walter Baumhofer’s great covers during the series’ supersaga era. This tale starts out in intriguing fashion, as well: four scientists return to civilization in Miami after having been marooned for six months on a really remote island (the Cormoral of the title) when the scientific foundation that was sponsoring their expedition went belly-up and couldn’t retrieve them. As if that’s not intriguing enough, one of the scientists is the heir to a half-billion dollar fortune . . . and he’s returned with the ability to predict the future.

However, this ability isn’t one that the scientist particularly wants—in fact, it scares him to death—so he decides to contact Doc Savage to get to the bottom of it. This leads to a couple of attempts on Doc’s life in New York, which just makes him more curious and determined to get to the bottom of things (the crooks never seem to learn not to do that), and before you know it Doc is off to Miami to investigate while his aids, the ever-lovable Monk and Ham, try to track down some leads in New York.

There are more attempts on Doc’s life, some colorful chasing around Miami, and then some globetrotting adventure as Doc, the scientist with the dilemma, and the guy’s spunky girlfriend take off for the Great White North. (Some of you are probably humming an old Rush song right now. I know I am.)

In the end, the secret behind the whole thing is a little on the mundane side, as often happens not only in other Doc Savage novels, but in yarns featuring The Shadow and other pulp heroes as well. But usually, the fun is in the getting there, and with Lester Dent’s taut, fast-paced prose sprinkled with action and humor, “Return From Cormoral” is quite a bit of fun indeed. By 1949, too much time had probably passed for the series to ever quite recapture its former glories, but this one makes a valiant try and I really enjoyed it.

Which leaves me with just one more Doc Savage novel from the original series before I’ve read them all. I’ll be getting to it soon.


Rick Robinson said...

You said "the ever-lovable Monk and Ham," Sorry, but they drive me nuts. So much so that I can barely read the books. Too bad, because without them, I think the books would be great.

James Reasoner said...

Yep, they're a polarizing pair, that's for sure. I was 11 or 12 when the Bantam reprints started coming out, which was a good age to discover the series. I liked Monk and Ham (all the crew, really) right away and always have.

Joe said...

I haven't read this one but certainly will put it on the list.

I;m kinda obsessed with Talbot Mundy and The Curse of Capistrano : The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley :)