Monday, September 15, 2014

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage 41

July 1936 - The Black Spot

The Black Spot starts while Pat Savage is attending a costume party with a mobster theme at the ritzy Vandersleeve estate in tony Westchester. The party is so high profile and the guest list so exclusive that a newsreel cameraman is present. When the host is killed, Pat and cameraman Red Mahoney are witnesses and get involved in a real gangster mystery.

The Black Spot is a New York centered tale of villainous intentions penned by Laurence Donovan. A killer has invented an vicious and most mysterious murder technique that leaves the victim dead with only a small black spot on their chest. The killings start out in the ritzi suburbs of the Westchester hills outside of Manhattan. The black spot killer quickly moves to Manhattan and continues to target the super-rich.

This is a much smaller-scale story than Donovan's previous effort, but ultimately far more satisfying. There is tension here, and Donovan writes the team well, with a satisfying, exciting finish. My favorite non-Dent Doc Adventure thus far.

The pulp cover is by Walter Baumhofer and the Bantam paperback cover is by Fred Pfeiffer. I'll give The Black Spot a 9 out of 10.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pulp of the Week - Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi

Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi
by Rob MacGregor

There is a great used book store called Movie World in downtown Burbank that stocks a mountain of books including plenty of Science Fiction paperbacks. The SF books cover a wall ten feet high and fifteen feet wide. In some spots they are shelved 3 books deep.

One day last year I decided to pay attention to the novelizations that were stacked horizontally by the door. The Indiana Jones novels caught my eye and took a look at them. They were not novelizations, but original stories. I bought a pile of them that were written by Rob MacGregor.

Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi is the first of MacGregor's books. The bulk of the story takes place in 1922, but flashes back two years briefly for some antics at his college graduation.

MacGregor's series follows graduate student Jones on an adventure that takes him from the dawn of the jazz age in Paris, to the ruins of Greece, and into an adventure and romance or two. As the title states, Indy ends up in Delphi where famous oracles in the ancient past would enter the caves, breathe in mystical vapors and emerge having received prophetic visions.

Indy has been hired (possibly just seduced) into following professor Dorian Belecamus to Greece and into a political, ethical, and potentially fatal web of deceit and betrayal.

Author MacGregor writes a great tale that despite Indy being college age, really feels like an Indiana Jones story, not a Young Indy story. He weaves in a few character building bits and by the end of the tale,  Grad Student Henry Jones, Jr is one step closer to being the Indy that we know and love.

I highly recommend Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi. It also features a great cover by Drew Struzan, the fantastic movie poster artist, that did the Raiders One-Sheet and so many more. His cover contributes considerably to setting the tone that this is Indiana Jones. I give the book 8.5 out of 10.