159j 11/45 Trouble on Parade

Chuck Welch
November 11, 2005 - 1945 / Bantam 157-168 / clark / degrouchy / larkin / novel / pulp

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In Maine on business, Doc is mysteriously warned by everyone to leave if he values his health. Soon, Doc finds himself behind bars on trumped up charges. Forced to escape to prove his innocence, Doc travels to a secret cove that harbors a gang of bloodthirsty cutthroats, none of whom wish him good health!

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  1. Thomas Fortenberry says:

    Trouble on Parade is a non-Doc book. I was mystified by this book at first, because it has none of the normal Doc elements, such as his gang of five, his gadgets, a super villian bent on world domination, and/or any other weird plot or evil device with which to accomplish the conquest. It is a slow-paced strange little tale set in a Canadian seaside resort. Worse, everyone in the book thinks Doc is a bumbing fool, a liar, a criminal, and/or an idiot. He has been called stupid, idiot, fool, moron, nincompoop, etc. on every page of the book so far, by every character in the book, so far, and especially by the two hot women of the tale. They think he is a loser, a liar, a musclehead, etc. He acts like a frightened lug who can only barely keep up with the swirling action, and is just stumbling through the dark and learning things by total accident. So far everyone that has met him, from the women to the hotel clerks and managers to the police, all think he is a lying, criminal, freak. He is also full of self-doubt and seems to agree with them in general. Overall, it is simply now a Doc story. This observation was strengthened by another Doc fan who noted the tale was originally a separate mystery Dent later converted into a Doc tale. Maybe that is the answer.

    The only “wild hook” in a more traditional Doc sense is the character Disappointed Smith. Disappointed is the only character of color in the book, and that includes this washed out, weak version of Doc. Disappointed gets his name fro ma fondness of quoting old poetry that includes the word “disappointed.” I know, that’s a bit of a stretch, and you’ll realize how far it stretches when trying to read some of the dusty verse he passes. Disappointed is a very robust character, a flaming-red haired Herculean guy of amazing athletic prowess — who perhaps has been seen before in several Doc books, usually as a villian: recognize the walrus mustache, walrus bluster, and walrus build of a bull-tempered man who loves the sea? Been there done that. but at least he keeps the scenes he is in zinging along. He and Doc are kind of co-equal rivals in the tale, which is very necesssary since there is no Savage aids or great villian present. In an unusual turn for a Doc book, Disappointed Smith is repeatedly called Tarzan, and compared to Johnny Weismuller. Though we all know Tarzan is granddaddy of the pulps and Doc, he usually isn’t so directly singled-out or repeatedly mentioned in a single text. But this kind of makes it an interesting bit of pulp history.

    So anyway, for a different read, a fun read, or a unique Doc tale: this is the one. For a great Doc tale, a rousing adventure, a desperate race to save the world, a book chock full of inventions and scientific discoveries…steer clear.

    Thomas Fortenberry

  2. scott kimball says:

    I agree that this is a non-Doc book, and I really wanted to hate it as I read it, but just couldn’t. It is so quirky and funny that it was hard to put down. It should have been called “Doc’s Whacky Vacation in Maine,” or something similar, because it is really a comedy, with a bit of mystery thrown in. But as a comedy, it could just as easily have been called “Joe’s Whacky Vacation In Maine,” because there is little if anything that makes this a uniquely Doc Savage story. But there is lots of humor… In one scene of utter hilarious pandemonium out at sea, Doc and the other main character, Disappointed Smith are drawing so much attention from reporters and sightseers that boats begin crashing into one another, people are tossed into the water… one camera man walks too far out on the wing of an airplane to get a better shot of Doc and Smith, falls through the delicate fabric of the wing… and the pilot goes ballistic. Then, when you think things have finally calmed down, Doc himself slips on the edge of his boat and falls back into the water. Another interesting thing about this book is that, to my knowledge, no one actually gets murdered. How can you have a Doc Savage novel without somebody actually getting killed? It is for the most part a very innocent, light hearted, p-g rated yarn. Sure, a few people get shot in the leg, Doc has a good tussle with Disappointed Smith, and all the main characters, including Doc are scared out of their wits throughout most of the story… but there is no big evil menace to justify all their fears. I think this story would work much better as a cartoon… maybe Scooby Doo, or perhaps Rocky and Bullwinkle. And I think the stories without the rest of the gang present (only a mention of Monk is made at the end, but Doc never actually talks to him) are all non-Doc stories. Doc and the characters of Renny, Long Tom, Ham, Johnny, and Monk are so intertwined… much of Doc’s character and personality are brought out or reflected in his interactions with the rest of the gang. In another Omnibus story, The Thing That Pursued, which I also managed to like, the gang is also absent. Again, it is kind of enjoyable, but really not a Doc story. Any Joe Blow in good physical condition with above average intelligence could have been inserted into Doc’s role, and the results would be about the same.

  3. Scott Kimball says:

    I forgot to mention one thing… In this story, Doc is basically broke… he is on his way to Nova Scotia to buy a few boats so that he can re-sell them to make a few bucks. Doc being hard up for cash is simply beyond the realm of possibility. I have not read the books just prior to this one, so I may have missed some unfortunate financial down-turns for Doc, but C’mon Doc has an almost infinite number of sources for income. Patenting and selling even one of his lesser inventions would make him a fortune. Doing even part time consulting in just one of his fields of expertise would net millions. It is this kind of thing, along with many others, that make many of these later Doc stories just simply unbeleivable and completely devoid of any validity… even in a fictional world.

  4. And what about his gold reserves in Hidalgo? Doc broke…? Nah!!!

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