068 05/33 Quest of the Spider

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Inside the grim, swamp-surrounded “Castle of the Moccasin,” the Man of Bronze and his faithful, fearless band are trapped — perhaps forever — in an insidious web of evil by a masterdevil known only as the Gray Spider!


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  1. Andrew Salmon

    The cover of this one makes a promise it can’t keep and this one is a simple power-mad madman. Dull, cliche, and below average. Come on Doc,you can do better than this.

  2. One of the few Dent Docs I really didn’t care for. Very dull and Doc dressing up in an alligator suit? Sheesh! After the first two slambang Docs, a disappointment.

  3. Clark

    I, for one, am glad that Lester toned down some of my “experiences”. Sadly, he was up to his usual exaggerations by the time he heard about our next adventure to the north. A polar bear with my bare hands? Really.

  4. Todd Pence

    The third Doc saga is not quite up to the standards of the first two classics, but it is still a fine adventure in its own right and a good specimen of the earlier stories. One of the flaws in the novel comes when the identity of the Gray Spider is finally revelaed – without giving anything away, the person who turns out to be the Spider doesn’t seem to have any logical motivation or real presence in the story to explain why he was the Spider. In “The Land of Terror” the identity of the villian Kar, when revealed, turned out to be a surprise but one that made sense and fit in with the rest of the story. Here, it looked like Dent just picked the least obvious suspect totally for the surprise value, without working that character more fully into the story or giving him a real reason for posing as the villian. This is a problem with many of the Doc stories which feature a villian who gets unmasked at the end, a convention of the series. Still, “Quest” is another great yarn.

  5. Tim Lucas

    This may be an unexceptional addition to the series overall, but it is notable for a surprise act of heroism late in the book by one of the subhuman henchmen of the Gray Spider. The short chapter in which this occurs is actually movingly written. Otherwise, the swampland descriptions are weak tea after the primordial jungles of THE LAND OF TERROR, and the Gray Spider himself is an uninspired adversary. Not only is he disappointingly unmasked, as Todd Pence points out, but he’s none too effective even when masked. And why would anyone, like the Gray Spider, who can afford to live in such a resplendent castle hideout, have it furnished so cheaply? (The description of his throne room makes a specific point of mentioning that his throne, seemingly carved from pure gold, is in fact only cheap lumber painted to look that way.) It may also disappoint some readers that, for the first time, Ham and Monk have few scenes together; Dent was obviously trying to mix things up a bit, experimenting with different combinations, and coming up short. Some readers may find some of the words used to describe the book’s “monkey men” politically incorrect or even racist. Despite this, Dent’s (and Doc’s) view of these characters is ultimately compassionate. Despite its faults, QUEST OF THE SPIDER is mildly enjoyable overall, with some slam-bang chapters at the end to leave the reader smiling. Not a bad way to spend an evening or two.

  6. Tim Lucas

    This may be an unexceptional addition to the series overall, but it is notable for a surprise act of heroism late in the book by one of the subhuman henchmen of the Gray Spider. The short chapter in which this occurs is actually movingly written. Otherwise, the swampland descriptions are weak tea after the primordial jungles of THE LAND OF TERROR, and the Gray Spider himself is an uninspired adversary. Not only is he disappointingly unmasked, as Todd Pence points out, but he’s none too effective even when masked. And why would anyone, like the Gray Spider, who can afford to live in such a resplendent castle hideout, have it furnished so cheaply? (The description of his throne room makes a specific point of mentioning that his throne, seemingly carved from pure gold, is in fact only cheap lumber painted to look that way.) It may also disappoint some readers that, for the first time, Ham and Monk have few scenes together; Dent was obviously trying to mix things up a bit, experimenting with different combinations, and coming up short. Some readers may find some of the words used to describe the book’s “monkey men” politically incorrect or even racist. Despite this, Dent’s (and Doc’s) view of these characters is ultimately compassionate. Despite its faults, QUEST OF THE SPIDER is mildly enjoyable overall, with some slam-bang chapters at the end to leave the reader smiling. Not a bad way to spend an evening or two.

  7. Walter Carlisle

    Third Doc is a weak entry in the series. There’s little more than a routine cops-and-robbers story, with a villain taking over Southern lumber companies. With no SF elements to speak of other than the usual gadgets, there’s not much suspense except for the identity of the Gray Spider — and as usual, there are so few suspects that it’s not hard to guess who the bad guy is. Still fun, with Doc’s on-the-fly brain operation a welcome touch, but after the first two Docs, this one is below par.

    Dent’s writing, always variable in quality, seems at its worst here, with frequent use of the passive voices and fussy, stuffy word choices where ordinary words would do much better. Every once in a while, though, Dent comes through with an evocative, descriptive passage, indicating that if he not been churning out prose at assembly line speeds he might have eventually broken out of the pulps and into “respectable” literature.

  8. I can see why Bantam didn’t publish this book for a long time. It’s not particularly good and just slogs along. (I don’t think any of the Docs that take place in swamps move very fast.) And at one point Doc disguises himself as an alligator. Hmmm. Don’t think so. However, having said all this about Quest of the Spider, I still would take it over most of the stories written from about 1938 to 1948. Dent’s writing style is still energetic and there are moments in this story (particularly toward the end) when the story really gets moving. But as far as I can tell, this book isn’t on anybody’s list of favorites.

  9. Lee Dorrance

    Not the greatest Doc, a little slow moving at times, but a nice summation to the story. The bantam cover is very misleading. It almost seemed that Dent may have been reaching at times. The scene with Doc emerging from the alligator suit after hiding amongst the swampdwellers is downright laughable.

  10. Now, come on, fellers… We have Doc, at only 29 or so years old, an expert in numerous fields — Archeology, medicine, physics etc — who knows more of these disciplines than guys older than him who have specialised in only one of them all their lives, and you complain  about Doc dressing as an alligator… Surely a small incongruity to swallow…?

  11. Carlo

    Not one of the best, as others have point out, but it may be the novel where Docs character changes, and he becomes a great humanitarian, in addition to being a physical superman and a mental marvel. In the preceding book, The Land of Terror, Doc is breaking people’s necks left and right. In this one, he uses his surgical skill to heal an enemy, and that scene, along with the young man’s father saving everybody’s life, made this book for me.

  12. Mike I.

    Although I didn’t care for the alligator scene it was again one of Doc’s first. Bond did it later in one of the movies.

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