Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Books: THE LINKS - and - The Son of Tarzan

Once again, I have the honor of hosting Patti Abbott's weekly Forgotten Bookapalooza. Next week, you'll find the links back at pattinase!

The following reviews are up now. I'll update the list throughout the day as more materialize. If I miss yours give me a shout here or at

Neeru: Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout

Patti Abbott: Private Demons, The Life of Shirley Jackson by Judy Oppenheimer
Sergio Angelini: Dekok and the Sorrowing Tomcat by Baantajer
Joe Barone: The Pusher by Ed McBain
Brian Busby: White Hands by Arthur Stringer
Bill Crider: GUILTY Detective Story Magazine, March 1960
Scott Cupp: The Executioness by Tobias S. Buckell
William F. Deeck (via Steve Lewis): The Tooth and the Nail by Bill S. Ballinger
Martin Edwards: 12.30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Croft
Curt Evans: Night Walk by Elizabeth Daly
Elizabeth Foxwell: The Mystery of Central Park by Nellie Bly
Ed Gorman: Plunder Squad by Richard Stark
Jerry House: Pawns of Death by Bill Pronzini and Jeffery M. Wallman (as Robert Hart Davis)
Randy Johnson: Space: 1999: Earthfall by E.C. Tubb
Nick Jones: Call for the Dead by John Le Carre
George Kelley: The Yellow Cabochon & 9 Tales of Henghis Hapthorn by Matthew Hughes
BV Lawson: Final Proof by Marie R. Reno
Steve Lewis: East of Singapore by Frederick Nebel
Steve Lewis: The Girl of Ghost Mountain by J. Allan Dunn
Todd Mason: Semiotext(e), Rucker, Wilson & Wilson, editors
John Norris: Coffins for Three by Frederick C. Davis
Juri Nummelin: The Dolly Dolly Spy by Adam Diment
Patrick Ohl (via Kevin Tipple): Death in Harley Street by John Rhode
James Reasoner: The Embezzler by James M. Cain
Richard Robinson: The Case of the Perjured Parrot by Erle Stanley Gardner
Gerard Saylor: Sunset and Sawdust by Joe R. Landsdale
Ron Scheer: Wyoming by William MacLeod Raine
Mike Sind: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
TomCat: Dead Man's Gift by Zelda Popkin
Zybahn: Behind the Scarlet Door by Lou Cameron

The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

In blabbing about the third Tarzan novel, The Beasts of Tarzan, last week, I noted the similar pattern Edgar Rice Burroughs followed with his Mars and Tarzan series. Each cycle started with a close-knit trilogy featuring the main player, followed by a fourth book starring the hero’s son.

I can only guess that ERB feared his readers were tiring of John Carter and Tarzan, and figured fresh blood would bring new life. Well, it wasn’t a bad idea, but it was wrong, at least in the case of Tarzan. He went on put the ape man through his paces in more than three dozen stories and novels over the next thirty-odd years.

The Son of Tarzan began as a pulp serial in 1915 and was published in hardcover two years later. As a novel, it's an odd duck, for reasons I’ll explain. This one begins ten years after the end of Beasts, and finds Lord Greystoke, now a perfectly respectable Englishman, living the high-life in London with his Lady Jane and son Jack. At Jane’s insistence, the boy knows absolutely nothing of his father’s colorful past, and she wants to keep it that way.

Alas, that’s not to be, because Akut, the bull-ape Tarzan befriended in Beasts, has recently become a hit on the London stage, and young Jack, oddly fascinated with all things African, sneaks off to see him. When Tarzan goes to haul him home, Akut and the ape-man have a rather public reunion, and the beans are spilled.

As a result, Jack sneaks off with Akut and winds up stranded in the jungle, where he spends the next who-knows-how-many years growing into the spitting image of his old man. I enjoyed his adventures roaming the wilds with Akut and seeing him change from a civilized kid to a wild beast.

Somewhere in the middle, though, the story shifts focus, and the rest of the book is more about a girl called Meriem. She's the daughter of a French nobleman who’s kidnapped and abused by an evil Sheik until Jack, now known by his ape name of Korak the Killer, takes her under his wing. We then meet whole lot of people, good and bad, who are hunting or chasing or trying to hold onto Meriem for their own purposes, good and bad.

Once the Meriem plot takes over, she’s menaced with a fate worse than death no fewer than three times, and plain old grisly and violent death several times more. Most of the characters are carrying huge misapprehensions on their shoulders, some are thick as bricks, and some are smart except where a coming plot twist requires them to be monumentally stupid. (If, like me, you watched all ten seasons of Smallville, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) Point of view bounces dizzily between a dozen or more characters, including an ape, a lion and an elephant.

As in most Burroughs books, the characters are either utterly pure of heart, or thoroughly evil bastards. They're sometimes capable of change, though. In this case, the hardship of the jungle converts a bastard into a pureheart, which is a bit hard to swallow.

All is not lost, though, because we’re treated to some fine savagery. A couple of evil Englishmen die with Akut’s fangs in their throats. A village of misguided natives is overrun by three thousand blood-hungry baboons. And a particularly evil villain gets himself squashed by an elephant.

Where this story fits into the overall life of Tarzan is anybody’s guess. Philip Jose Farmer attempted to explain it in Tarzan Alive, but his timeline leaves me even more bewildered. Following the events of the first three books, Tarzan seems to have retired from adventuring and spent the next ten years (at minimum) in civilization. At some point in The Son of Tarzan he and Jane journey to their African plantation, bringing much of their civilization with them. There’s no internal evidence that he dons a loincloth and returns to the trees until the end of this book, when his son appears to be about eighteen. So it would seem that Tarzan ceases to be the ape man for those eighteen years, donning the loincloth only when necessary to save the day.

My guess? I think Burroughs planned to put old Tarzan out to pasture after the first three books, much as he did to John Carter. Anybody know if that’s so?

Frank Frazetta

Neal Adams


Kevin R. Tipple said...

I had the privilege of running another review from Patrick Ohl today as part of FFB. Today he reviewed DEATH IN HARLEY STREET by John Rhode at

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks Kevin!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for doing such a spectacular job with this, Dave.
I'll be home tomorrow and resume my duties next Friday. You and Todd were terrific to help me out.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Thank you, Evan.

I have no idea what was/is going on with Patti, but am glad to read she is coming back.

By the way, her story and others included in BEAT TO A PULP--ROUND 2 were reviewed earlier this week on my blog.

Subtle, aren't I?


Evan Lewis said...

Including MY story, though Patti was the star of the show.
- Subtle me.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Yes, the review does include your story. I was afraid not too. When somebody is waving a gun around in the picture, I figure they have decided to totally ignore the "conceal" part of things. lol

J F Norris said...

It's 10 AM here in the Windy City and that means my post is now up. Here it is: Coffins for Three by Frederick C. Davis
Thanks, Dave.

Todd Mason said...

Ha...I can beat that kind of tardiness, John. Life is like that.

I do like the cleanliness of your displays, atop all else, Evan. It's time for some fiddling with format at SF.

Evan Lewis said...

Got it, John. Looks like a good 'un!

Rick Robinson said...

Evan, I just wanted to say "thanks" for you effort in carrying on during the extended Patti-On-Vacation period, (along with Todd, of course). You've done a grand job, and having done it once, I know it's work. Thanks a lot.

Rick Robinson said...

You wrote "As a result, Jack sneaks off with Akut and winds up stranded in the jungle". I believe a song about that was originally recorded by American doo wop group The Jay Hawks, that peaked at #18 on the U.S. pop chart. A cover version of the song recorded by American doo wop group The Cadets in 1956 peaked at #15 on the U.S. pop chart. The later version was eventually more popular and appeared on one of the OLDIE BUT GOODIE albums. Man the Tarzan family sure gets around!

TomCat said...

Yeah. For the first time in months, I have FFB up on a Friday!

I don't know if you remember this, but you once posted a comment on a Sherlock Holmes forum when I brought up Skyler Hobbs and how much I enjoyed the first story in the series. I really have to get back to Hobbs one of these days.

Evan Lewis said...

Todd - I clean my displays once a day with Windex. Thanks for noticing.

Richard - I remember that song. It's a great one! I also remember Guitarzan by Ray Stevens.

Tom - EQMM has accepted a third Hobbs story. I'll be shouting when it appears.

jurinummelin said...

Evan: I just managed to post mine:

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks Juri. Got you covered.

michael said...

How about MysteryFile?

Steve Lewis did two this week.

Frederick Nebel - East of Singapore

J. Allan Dunn - The Girl of Ghost Mountain

Archive post of William F Deeck

Bill S. Ballinger - The Tooth and The Nail

As a reader who is hooked on the Friday Forgotten Book gathering, I want to thank you for filling in for Patti and not making me go cold turkey.

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks Michael. I added those.

neer said...

Hi Evan

Here's mine (rather late in the day)

Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout.

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