165m 02/43 Waves of Death

Chuck Welch
February 9, 2003 - 1943 / Bantam 157-168 / clark / larkin / nanovic / novel / pulp

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A freak tidal wave occurs in the normally placid waters of Lake Michigan — suddenly Doc and his crew find themselves on the trail of a mad inventor with the power to hold the world hostage!

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  1. Thomas Fortenberry says:

    Waves of Death is an average Doc Savage, set in the North woods of the Great Lakes region (one of Dent’s favorite areas when having adventures inside the USA, though the Southwest is probably number one). It is dynamic and pretty vicious at points (aids getting capture and hurt a lot), though overall it has problems and kind of falters along here and there. Seems to have trouble finding its flow. But as usual there are plenty of terrific scenes. Once, when Ham has been captured and they have to flee for their lives, Monk is going to turn back and die trying to save Ham. Doc knows this and knocks him cold. He carries Monk out unconscious. It mentions that when he comes to, Monk awakes angry and bellowing “like an animal.” But because it was Doc who did it to him, he let’s it go. (Bantam Omnibus #10, pp 146-148)

    Also, this is a Pat Savage novel, and hell you just can’t best that. This is a rather unique Pat novel, because she enters midway through while Doc is out of scene and just takes over his spot. She leads the action for a good quarter of the book, telling the aids what and where to go, and even stumbling through a substantial part of the mystery on guts and ingenuity alone. She even calls Renny and Long Tom “Grumpy and Grouchy,” (p 167) like they’re drawves and she is the Snow White queen. Also, in here, she is shown not only as brave and physically impressive (with that six shooter and by outrunning a man), but by using her own money to buy planes and set up false leads for enemies, plus she disguises herself as an old woman with gray hair at one point. Could you imagine any elderly woman looking so hot? Sheesh. Gives me nightmares. Most intriquing of all, Pat is said here to have invented a new muffling system for airplanes, to compliment Doc’s own, which reduces the windstream noise through a system of vanes which make it sound like cars passing on a distant road. She says she gave it to the war department to use, and dismisses her own genius with the offhand, “I got it through experimenting. It’s simple, really. I guess just nobody thought of it before.” (p 170) Wow. Looks, nerves, brawn, and the brains to boot. Those amazing Savage genes are something else. Now, there is an absolute first for Pat in this book, out of the entire series. It is somewhat surprising, but I’ll leave that to the readers to discover. I think the key is that it happens in the presence of Doc. Now that’s psychology for you.

    Two last tidbits: 1) The p 144 footnote on Doc Savage’s origin in this book is very, very intriguing. It brings to light new details about his training and his father’s role (perhaps not seen elsewhere in the series). It implies his father blew his entire fortune on Doc’s training, plus that his training under experts worldwide appears to have involved Edgar Cayce. It mentions “A Virginia experimenter in extrasensory activity” This is the Sleeping Prophet as far as I can tell, though it perhaps refers to another supernaturalist earlier in the century I am unaware of. Anyway, pretty wild to think they were maybe connected. 2) Pat knows Mayan in this book. It is said she learned it secretly from one of the aids directly against Doc Savage’s wishes. She has never revealed who it was and none of the aids will admit to doing it. Hmmmm. Makes you wonder what else went on behind Doc’s back.

    Thomas Fortenberry

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