Doc Savage’s cousin Pat travels to Oklahoma along with one of Doc’s lieutenant’s, Monk Mayfair, in order to try her luck in oil speculation. Before she can even get to the field, she has to deal with a ruthless competitor. But that’s nothing compared to the mess she and Monk find themselves in when they stumble into a conspiracy involving a paralyzing poison, an offshot of the Ossage Indian tribes led by the sinister Chief Standing Scorpion, and murder. Pat and Monk find themselves framed for murder, and on the run from the law while pursuing the real culprits. How will they cope with Doc Savage out of the picture at his Fortress of Solitude?
As a bit of pulp fiction potboiler, this a fun read. The adventure itself has a lot of opportunities for derring-do as well as having quite a few mysteries that really keep the reader curious from start to finish, particular the question of who Standing Scorpion is. Admitted a villainous plot that’s essentially, “First Oklahoma…and then the world,” seems a bit unlikely and maybe even silly. But, it definitely works in the context of a pulp adventure set in the 1930s.
While Doc Savage novels tend to have a big cast, often involving many of Doc’s men, Pat and Monk are the sole protagonists of the book, with Monk’s best frenemy Ham being the only other member of Doc’s team to make an appearance. Monk is my favorite character in the Doc Savage world and this book shows how well he can carry the book and he plays very well off of Pat. They make a superb duo. If there’s a downside to this, it’s that Monk plays such a big role in this story that it’s hard to see how an ongoing series with Pat would like, although several sites have labeled this book 1 in the Wild Adventures of Pat Savage. Even though, there’s not been a second book in five years. Pat does hint towards the end of the book that if she does go on another adventure, she’ll go alone. Six Scarlet Scorpions does enough to make me intrigued to find out what that would like.
The other characters in this story are mostly forgettable, compromising a group of toughs, evil overlords, a damsel and few other supporting characters. However, this is typically true of Doc Savage stories, where the persoanlities of the lead characters really do carry the book.
The book also suffers from the malady that most of the Wild Adventures of Doc Savage tend to. There’s a lot of our heroes being caught and released repeatedly. It’s the biggest source of padding in these books and this novel is no exception.
Still, this is an interesting book that does a great job recreating the world of Doc Savage and giving a couple characters from that world a chance to really shine on their own. It suceeds and if you enjoyed the original Doc Savages books or the other Wild Adventures, this is worth checking out.
Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
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