Monday, December 20, 2010

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage #20

October 1934 - Death in Silver

This adventure has a limited cast, with Renny working in South Africa and Long Tom and Johnny in Europe. Death in Silver finds Doc, Monk, and Ham blasted into danger when an office under Monk's Manhattan laboratory is blown up by the mysterious and deadly Silver Death's-Heads.

A gang of silver clad thieves and murderers has been terrorizing New York City for a few weeks having robbed armored cars and astonishingly sank an ocean liner. With the explosion destroying a shipping office under Monk's lab, Doc Savage gets involved and immeadiately meets the dame. This time her name is Lorna Zane.

Doc wastes no time in dropping her off at his cousin Pat Savage's swanky Park Avenue Salon which is described as half salon, half gymnasium.

There are quite a number of items of interest in this novel.

- Ham uses the stuff coating the tip of his sword cane as a stimulant to wake up a knocked out character. This is quite different, since the stuff has previously indicated that the tiniest prick of the blade would produce instant unconciousness.

- Doc makes a bet with a cop.

- There is a description of an automatic elevator as if the average reader has not operated one before. There is also a comment about "zipper fasteners" being an efficient method of fastening clothes.
- Lester Dent describing Doc's car racing through the fog - "The machine chased the white funnels of its own headlights through the night, like a quite black ghost hurtling after some luminous siren."

The secret of the Silver Death's-Heads miraculous escapes is revealed and Doc puts the Helldiver into service again. When Monk questions why the Death's-Heads have a particular contraption on their vessel, Dent writes, "The answer to that did not come until later, after unpleasant things had happened."

Needless to say, Doc and his men wrap things up in the end, but was a pretty exciting and satisfying adventure. I'll give Death in Silver an 8.5 out of 10. 
The pulp cover is by Walter Baumhofer, the pulp interior art is by Paul Orban (and can be found at Chris Kalb's Doc Site), and the Bantam paperback cover is by James Bama. For this review I read my Bantam paperback, 1st edition, July 1968.


Anonymous said...

Nice piece. DEATH IN SILVER is one of my favorite Docs, and would have made a great movie. As it was, Marvel Comics adapted it for their Doc series back in the 70s.

Bama's cover art is among his very best - I've read that he thought it was one of his two best, along with the DUST OF DEATH cover.

Pete Miller said...

Thanks. I liked this story a lot. Doc is a bit less super bulked up here and more real.