158j 09/44 Weird Valley

Chuck Welch
September 9, 2004 - 1944 / Bantam 157-168 / degrouchy / larkin / novel / pulp / stein

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A man who has found the secret of eternal life is murdered, and Doc’s search for the truth leads to a hidden valley deep in Mexico — where eternal life awaits some, and death awaits Doc!

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  1. Thomas Fortenberry says:

    Weird Valley is a fairly solid adventure and one of the more rare later tales which does a good job of simultaneously evoking the true mystique of the early years while softly poking fun at the legend of Doc Savage and the whole high adventure pulp genre, while retaining its integrity and not denigrating the Doc Savage idea. It just plays with the readers’ expectations of the whole concept of the mysterious valley of immortality that is central to the tale. At another point, when a murder occurs in an apparently sealed room, Monk acknowledges it is a “locked-room mystery.” Thoroughout the book there is a finely maintained balance of straight story and authorial winking at the reader.

    Some interesting moments: It is mentioned that Doc is at his Long Island “germ” lab. Never heard of that one before. (Bantam Omnibus #8 p 231). The book has one of the bloodiest scenes of the series as a native’s arm is caught in a plane propeller and torn off at the shoulder. Very shocking scene. (p 297) Doc is described well, as being very intelligent and not just a “musclehead,” plus not showing many signs of weirdness from having undergone such intense, strange training. (p 234) Though he has “foolish pride” in gadgets (p 257), he is sincere and the headquarters and whole gang of gadgeteers are described excellently in a few paragraphs that are pretty unique in the series, as it describes the metamorphosis of the HQ over the years: Doc Savage’s headquarters on the eighty-sixth floor of the midtown building had, over a period of years, turned into somethign of a nerve center. Built originally as an office and experimental laboratory, the hature of the installation had gradually changed as Doc and his aids tried out one idea or another. They were confirmed experimenters. One or another of them was invariably piddling around with some utterly improbable gadget. Sometimes the gimmicks turned out to be nothing but an enormous laugh…but a percentage of the gadgets turned out to be practical. Headquarters was, in fact, a hodgepodge of such things. (p 273)

    One last moment of note: Monk impersonates an FBI agent in order to get some info from people, and Ham is worried they will go to jail for it. (p 261 plus) I was wondering if this is the first time this occurs in the series, as the agency isn’t very old in these years and just coming into great prominence.

    Anyway, Weird Valley is a solid performance (especially for one of the latter books) with a very plausible plot and scientific reason behind it all.

    Thomas Fortenberry

  2. Todd Pence says:

    This is pretty good for a latter-day Doc adventure. The problem is that once again we have tired plot devices. Doc and his gang have already gone looking for the fountain of youth in “Fear Cay” and “The Crimson Serpent” and this marks the third time.

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