Friday, September 5, 2014
Forgotten Books: DEATH AT SEA by Richard Sale
Unlike Richard Sale's best books, Lazarus #7, Passing Strange and Benefit Performance, Death at Sea is not a true novel. It was written as a five-part serial for Argosy, and it shows. That said, it's still a book-length story by Richard Sale - one of my pulp favorites - so it's a guaranteed good read.
Our hero in this one is Gabriel Adams, a stuffy ichthyologist whose thrill of a lifetime is getting his hands on a fish believed extinct for fifty million years. But the Fates aren't making it easy for him. The Dutch oil tanker he's traveling on is beset with mysterious goings-on and grim-faced Germans. And this being 1940, Adams is pretty sure something sinister is afoot. He's right, of course, but though he has ample opportunity to take his fish and run, he chooses to stay and face the trouble.
The serial began in the August 17, 1940 issue of Argosy, under the title Destination Unknown. When Adams asks one of the bad guys where they're going, that's the answer he gets, and it turns out the guy is telling the truth. There is no connection to any of the several movies bearing that title.