Pat Savage: Six Scarlet Scorpions by Kenneth Robeson (book review)

July 21, 2017 | By | Reply More

Many years ago, when I read Philip Jóse Farmer’s 1973 book ‘Doc Savage: His Apocalyptical Life’ about the Man Of Bronze, I read about his cousin, Patricia. On a whim, a couple weeks back, I scanned Google seeing if anyone had ever done any illustrations of her which led to discovering that there was a book about her on the Altus Press website released last year. It’s worth pointing out that it’s worth a look around their site might be appropriate if you have an interested in pulp heroes, reprints and new material, including the likes of Doc Savage but there are simply so many from America’s 1930s-40s that I’ve barely heard of. There’s also a selection of books about the pulp heroes to fulfil your education on the subject.

Unlike many of them here, ‘Pat Savage: Six Scarlet Scorpions’ is actually a new novel. Hidden behind the Doc Savage pen-name writer Kenneth Robeson is actually Will Murray and Lester Dent, who actually wrote Doc originally but unless he’s come back via an ouji board, this is really Murray’s book.

I first came across Will Murray when he was ghosting on ‘The Destroyer’ book series created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. Murray caught the style perfectly and added details to the Remo and Chiun mythos and it wasn’t until a few years later when he was involved in Marvel’s black and white magazine of ‘Remo Williams: The Destroyer’ that I discovered how long he’s been involved with the book. If anyone could bring Doc Savage’s cousin to life then Will Murray would have been at the top of my list. He’s also involved in a run of ‘New Wild Adventures Of Doc Savage’ as well for Altus.

Pat Savage isn’t as public a figure as her cousin but she is ambitious and with the finance from her New York cosmetic business, she has decided to invest in oil or rather buying the land to sell onto oil companies. Taking one of Doc’s team, chemist Andrew Blodett ‘Monk’ Mayfair with her, they are out to buy some land in Oklahoma. Things get off to a bad start when a competitor has emery powder put in her fuel of her aeroplane and they crash and from then, things can only get worse as they get caught into various other intrigues and they are wanted for murder. I should point out that Doc Savage isn’t in America at the time as he’s off in the Arctic having one of absences of solitude. Pat wouldn’t call him anyway. These Savages like to take care of themselves. With the ape-like Monk Mayfair with her, she has a useful aid although it’s a shame his knowledge of chemistry isn’t used as much as it should be.

I’m being cautious about how much I should say about the overall plot because as being part-mystery and you wouldn’t want me to give away too much. Some aspects are very much like ‘The Perils Of Pauline’ as they continually go from bad to even worse, except Pat Savage is good at getting out of jams. Like her cousin, she is multi-talented but unlike Doc is a little out for herself as well. That’s not altogether in a selfish way but typical of the time. As a businesswoman, she also wants to improve her investment portfolio. It’s just a shame that so many people see her getting in the way of their own ambitions.

From a story point of view, there are a few touches that resembled the first book of Doc Savage that I read years ago but only as far as the need for them to work out what was being used as a poison. There is a lot of intrigue here and you often aren’t sure who the bad guys are. Makes a note not to let Monk to ever bite me. Just be careful of anyone pointing a flute at you as you don’t know what they might be firing at you. It’s so tempting to say more but every detail is like me feeling I’m saying far too much about a cracking yarn.

Murray has kept to the rules of the pulps which tends to also reflect the old Victorian melodramas. Other than the bad guys, everyone else is helpful and provide information without any other motive than to be nice. I suspect that might throw some people not familiar with this old style but it changes the pace of the book if you’re not used to it.

I haven’t read any pulp fiction in a while, let alone anything stylised for the 1930s ethos but I came away with a definite feelgood factor that I haven’t felt in some of the SF books I’ve reviewed lately. If you’re looking for a book to take on your holidays as a light read, then you will love this one. You might even look around Altus Press’ back catalogue and see what else they have to offer.

GF Willmetts

July 2017

(pub: Altus Press, 2016. 339 page enlarged paperback. Price: $24.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61827-274-4)

check out websites: http://www.altuspress.com/and www.adventuresinbronze.com

Category: Books, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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