157j 05/41 The Pink Lady

Chuck Welch
May 17, 2001 - 1941 / Bantam 157-168 / clark / larkin / nanovic / novel / pulp

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A terrified young lady tries desperately to contact Doc Savage, but she’s burned to a crisp in a hotel lobby before she can reach him — thus launching Doc on one of his strangest escapades ever!

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  1. Thomas Fortenberry says:

    The Pink Lady was not one of the strongest Doc stories. It is somewhat unsurprising throughout, though full of action and capable of much much more than it delivers. It did have several good moments. However, the finale, the secret of the device/mystery was just plain hohum.

    Some examples of the good stuff:

    1) There is a perfect portrayal of Renny’s prowess, perhaps the best such scene in the entire Doc Savage series. A villian hits him full on the face and he isn’t even phased, but he hits the guy back, knocks him cold with his massive fist, and nearly breaks his neck: “There was as much difference between the blows as between the smack of a fly swatter and the thump of a sledge on a circus-tent stake. Chet Farmer fell sidewise, burying his arms half to the elbow in the sand and not moving afterward. The three young men with the guns stared at Chet Farmer. Renny said, “You better see if I broke his neck.” (p 163 Bantam Omnibus #8) That’s the kind of titanic raw power Renny had that we all love and fear!

    2) We know Doc Savage shows immense emotional and rational control under pressure. A great example of this trait is in the finale when Doc gets caught flatfooted entering a ruined castle-home through a hole in the wall. A guard is hidden on the other side waiting for him and meets him face to face with a gun. Anyone else would have frozen or jumped out of their shoes. Not Doc. He instantly reacts in the only way possible to salvage the situation and calmly pretends to be with the mastermind of the whole gang: Doc half turned his head, acted as if addressing someone behind him. “Bodine,” he said, “here is the guard.” The guard had his mouth open to yell an alarm, and nothing on earth — not the fastest jump Doc could have made at him — would have kept the sound inside him. But he closed his mouth. He moved his head a little, looking for Bodine. That gave Doc a chance. (p 207)

    Now, that takes giant cast-iron, er, I mean giant bronze balls. It is one of those innumerous moments that set Doc apart from the rest of humanity.

    3) Monk and Ham antics: When Monk says, “One of these days I’m gonna dance on your grave,” to Ham, he retorts, “That’s great. I’ll see if they won’t bury me at sea.” (p 215). Elsewhere, Monk uses a line on a villain that Ham once used on him in another book, when the man says he has an idea: “An idea? It’s in a strange place. Treat it gently.” And there is also a good exchange just prior to this: “I wouldn’t cash a check for my own brother,” Monk growled. “You know your own family better than I do,” Ham informed him. (p156)

    Overall this book was one of those that could have been great, should have been a million times better, and only failed when it shoudln’t have. Seems like it didn’t get the care and attention it deserved to turn it into an exceptional adventure. but still worth a read.

    Thomas Fortenberry

  2. Scott Kimball says:

    I think if this book had been written in 1934 or ’35 it would have been great. As it is, it is probably the best of the Omnibus 8 stories (which isn’t saying much). The whole pink-people-angle is quirky enough to be interesting and there is loads of action, but no “magic.” It seems uninspired… I think Dent was able to crank these later stories out, but there was no joy in it for him any more. I like to imagine this book having been written in 1934, and reprinted in single form with a Bama cover… Doc striking the pose in his ripped shirt with a huge, horrified pink face in the background. I hate to slam these later Docs, but they really do suck, at least all the ones I have read so far. The editor(s) who “humanized” Doc should be shot.

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