Thursday, October 10, 2013

DOC SAVAGE Returns in the The Miracle Menace - by Will Murray AND Lester Dent!

While reading The Miracle Menace, I knew it was a different kind of Doc Savage novel, but I didn’t know how different until I heard Will Murray on a podcast interview (link below), where he spilled the beans.

This new WILD adventure of Doc Savage is actually two stories in one, and those stories alternate chapters, moving gradually on a converging course. One storyline has Doc and his pals investigating and old house that won’t stay put; one moment it’s there, the next it’s gone, and next thing you know it’s back again. The other story involves an out of work magician and his assistant in La Plata, Missouri, where people keep telling them that Christopher Columbus is alive and living in the 20th Century.

It happened like this: Among Lester Dent’s papers, Will Murray found an unpublished novelette called “Spook,” set in Dent’s home town of La Plata. The novelette involved that temporarily-retired magician, Gulliver Greene, and his near-identical assistant Spook Davis. And, as I mentioned, Christopher Columbus. Will liked the story, and got the idea of incorporating it into a Doc Savage novel.

His solution was to collaborate with Dent in a way he’d never done before. Chapter 1 is all Dent, introducing Gulliver Greene, and Chapter 2 is all Murray, involving Monk, Ham and Doc. The novel follows that pattern for the first thirty-nine chapters, when Doc and Gulliver finally put their heads together and charge into the climax. As Will describes it in the podcast, “All the Doc Savage chapters are mine, all the non-Doc Savage chapters are Lester Dent’s, and near the last third of the book we start to converge.”

I knew none of this until I’d finished the book, and it came as quite a surprise. It’s a tribute to Will’s skill as a writer that the story flows seamlessly from one chapter the next, offering no hint of this tag-team approach. Makes me want to read the whole novel again, just to admire how it was done.

The Miracle Menace is probably the most complex Doc novel ever written, but it all comes together nicely, leaving no loose ends, and even ties in elements from a couple of Dent’s classic Doc adventures. In short, it’s great entertainment, and it’s obvious Will had as much fun writing it as I did reading it.

The paperback edition is available here:

On the podcast, Will also revealed something about Joe DeVito's cover painting. You can’t miss Ham, Doc and Monk standing there with the dirigible overhead, but I didn’t realize that Renny, Long Tom, Johnny and Habeas Corpus are featured too. Take a hard squint and you’ll spot ’em through the windows of the dirigible. Pretty cool.

You can listen to the podcast interview (which also includes Joe DeVito) HERE.

The Miracle Menace is also available in a deluxe hardcover edition with this extra-cool wraparound cover:


David Cranmer said...

Sharp sounding Savage novel.

Anonymous said...

Same alternating chaper device was used by William Goldman in "Marathon Man." Two different stories alternating chapters until they climactically culminate. Great reading - El Kabong

Rick Robinson said...

I'm not sure how happy I am about messing with the straightforward plot line model. These combined stories tend to double any weaknesses in the plot of either one.

Evan Lewis said...

Been a LONG time since I read Marathon Man, Mr. K, but I remember liking it a LOT.

Stephen B. said...

Actually I tried to put my finger on it, and I think Murray may be able to write as or mimic a style similar to that of Lester Dent and with the same sort of prose or plot.

However, it might be argued Dent was a genius as a writer - or at he was un-arguably very prolific

- I think that some of the Doc Savage newer books in the 1990's didn't quite reach or capture the true pulp magic. They are overall entertaining

- but for me the main offender was JADE OGRE with the explanation of the demon trailing hands and the villain did not play out as it had been given in previous chapters of the story!