154i 06/45 The Terrible Stork

Chuck Welch
June 9, 2005 - 1945 / Bantam 145-156 / degrouchy / larkin / novel / pulp / stein

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Why are people being murdered for a cheap tin statuette of a stork? The search for an answer takes Doc and his crew from a Long Island cemetery at night to a secret vault in the lowest and most dangerous depths of the Grand Canyon!

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  1. Thomas Fortenberry says:

    The Terrible Stork is not the greatest of Docs, yet it has a hell of a lot of power in it. It is one of the later more suspenseful Docs where we get a lot of edgy, nail-biting tension chewing up the pages. However, in the course of presenting this more “human” Doc, and maybe because it only has Monk and Ham, but Monk is absent the entire book while kidnapped so their usual banter is absent, Doc actually has many moments of sarcasm and outright jokes. Pretty biting humor at times. Anyway, it features a lot of grim Ham at work, if anyone is interested. Without Monk, he’s a deadly serious guy.

    The adventure centers around a mysteriously valuable cheap stork statue which everyone is out to get at any price or just kill for. Doc snags it at a public auction that explodes from page one, and in typical Doc style begins the psychological warfare that will destroy all the villains involved. Some very interesting details in this book, especially about the headquarters and skyscraper where we see the 86th floor as part of the whole building, with a restaurant and danceclub and giftshop above it. In one scene Doc gets on the elevator late at night and is actually accosted by drunk fans, with a woman trying to kiss him. He is embarrassed and his face turns lobster red. (Bantam Omni 7, pp 248-249) We see the more lustful side of the aids as well with Monk suggesting they go take in some burlesque shows and Ham outright gawking over women (tongue out a foot, as Doc puts it). But Doc seems to have figured things out a bit, and in this tale for the first time can judge women and their actions fairly astutely (though he is still shown to be so shy himself that he is deeply embarrassed while helping a beautiful girl over a fence and getting a face full of skirt). In another psychological moment, while describing Doc’s odd upbringing and mission (and noting that the only thing he inherited from his father was the 86th floor), there is the odd, painful admission that despite his training he turned out to be “somewhat less” than his father expected. (p 214) Ouch! His father must have been a real hardcase.

    Interesting moment: on p 231 while creeping through a cemetary at night, Doc is shown crouching beside a large statue that he realizes is a giant bronze angel. Whoa! What an image, almost mythic.

    The action all ends up out west in the basin of the Grand Canyon during a terrible winter storm (amazing descriptions of this) at a ranch called Fear’s End. My personal two cents worth: book should have been titled Fear’s End instead of The Terrible Stork. Just sounds cooler.

    Thomas Fortenberry

  2. Andrew Salmon says:

    I do believe I have read one of the worst Docs ever. In fact, Stork is bad enough to take a run at the all-time worst title. In this one, everyone is a coward and gets scared at the drop of a hat. In fact, the word scared appears on just about every page. Monk and Ham run from gun fire. Character are scared of lightning for crying out loud. The mystery is uninteresting and the conclusion dull. And the writing! Absolutely awful! Too many lame lines like: “She thanked him. She said, Thank you.” The whole book is like that. This one was either phoned in or came up against too severe a deadline. The whole thing needs a re-write. Badly. Very, very badly. The “Terrible” in the title refers to the novel itself. Just awful Doc. Awful anything for that matter. I hope Danger Lies East, which is next in line in omnibus #7 washes the taste of this one out of my mouth. Yuck!

  3. Andrew Salmon says:

    I do believe I have read one of the worst Docs ever. In fact, Stork is bad enough to take a run at the all-time worst title. In this one, everyone is a coward and gets scared at the drop of a hat. In fact, the word scared appears on just about every page. Monk and Ham run from gun fire. Character are scared of lightning for crying out loud. The mystery is uninteresting and the conclusion dull. And the writing! Absolutely awful! Too many lame lines like: “She thanked him. She said, Thank you.” The whole book is like that. This one was either phoned in or came up against too severe a deadline. The whole thing needs a re-write. Badly. Very, very badly. The “Terrible” in the title refers to the novel itself. Just awful Doc. Awful anything for that matter. I hope Danger Lies East, which is next in line in omnibus #7 washes the taste of this one out of my mouth. Yuck!

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