056 07/38 The Giggling Ghosts

Chuck Welch
July 6, 1998 - 1938 / bama / Bantam 049-060 / clark / nanovic / novel / pulp

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Fears of ghosts and a deadly giggling gas become a terrifying reality to millions of people threatened by the S.R.G.V. The Man of Bronze faces a supreme test as he pits might against the forces of evil.

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  1. This was only the second Doc I ever read–my dad got it for me for my birthday (can’t recall which but I think around 12th). It was a snowy evening and I was certain school would be cancelled the next day, so like a fool I stayed up half the night reading it! Of course, school wasn’t cancelled and the next day I was The Boy Who Smiled No More in class, but it was still worth the read and the warm memory. So this book, while it may not end up on many folks’ favroites list, will always hold a special place in my memory. Absolutely love the Bama cover.

  2. I would rate it as a middling Doc novel. For the most part, Doc’s men are ciphers, and Miami Davis is one of the weakest Dent heroines. OTOH, Johnny has a very good scene, Batavia is one of the better evil henchmen, and this has the most realistic plot. You could actually believe that some villian could pull this off in the real world.

  3. Scott Kimball says:

    I think the cover is fantastic and even the lettering has a nice color scheme… but then it all goes down hill from there. First of all, the whole giggling ghost phenomenon never really goes anywhere. Despite the fact that people are literally laughing themselves to death, the whole thing never really develops into something to be taken seriously, much less be frightened of. The giggling, almost from the start is, well, basically a joke. It is clear right away that a gas is causing all the mayhem, but the idea that maybe there really are ghosts is reintroduced several time throughout the book… c’mon, I allready know it is a gas, why should I beleive the ghost crap? I thought this book was poorly written, too. For the most part it just “tells” the story, rather than drawing the reader in to it. There are a few good scenes.
    Doc shows his ruthlessness when it comes to extracting the truth from criminals… At The Hidalgo Trading Co., he locks two thugs in a diving bell, submerges it, allows it to slowly fill up with water. Then he just nonchalantly walks away and takes care of some other business for a while. By the time the crooks can barely keep their noses above the water, they are nearly driven mad with terror. Doc eventually lets them out only to reveal that they were never in any real danger. The whole situation had been carefully controlled. After hearing this, the Thugs clam up again, and only after Doc threatens to put them back in the diving bell, do they finally spill the beans.
    Then Doc crashes his Gyro into the penthouse on top of a skyscraper, that was kinda cool. So, it was pretty lame all in all, but It does have a cool cover, and it is still a Doc book.

  4. Paul Cook says:

    This has one of my favorite Bama covers where Doc really seems like Doc: a scientific hero, ready to knock a few heads together. Alas, the story is so-so and I hardly remember it. I think the later years of the Depression exhausted Dent and there are just a smattering of good stories from 1937 onward. This was one of the weakest.

  5. Mark Carpenter says:

    Written in 1938, “The Giggling Ghosts” begins to show the signs of Dent’s fatigue and boredom: a clever premise that’s never developed, endless gun battles with dull thugs, the underutilization of Doc’s Fabulous Five, and a rushed pace that feels like the author just wanted to get things over with. This is sad, because the idea of ghosts roaming New York and causing millions to die a hideous laughing death could have been truly frightening. Instead, Dent spends all his time describing how the main characters are taken prisoner, released, then taken prisoner again. It’s downright tedious. In fact, “The Giggling Ghosts” is so dull, it makes one long for the lunacy of Donovan’s “He Could Stop the World” or “Murder Melody.” Sure, they were totally over the top, but they were never boring.
    Mark this one down as a “D” in my book.

  6. Chris Jarocha-Ernst says:

    I love the blurb the Bantam editor wrote for this one. It’s the quintessential Doc paperback blurb, applicable to any of the books.

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