They Died Twice should be a very important book. It should be vital to the canon because of many reasons: A) It directly involves Doc's father, his old associates, his legacy, and the origin of Doc Savage's wealth and mission; B) It is one of the few books to take place in the secret Mayan Valley of the Vanished; C) Likewise it involves the principle Mayan players, King Chaac and his Doc-loving daughter Princess Monja, and introduces an entire new Mayan hierachy and culutral depth; D) It involves most of Doc's team of associates. Very sadly, it does not deliver.
They Died Twice is a rather strange bird. It has all the feathers it needs to soar, but for some reason it cannot fly. For instance, it starts off very powerfully, with one of the most stressful, nailbiting moments in Renny's life. Renny vanishes for a week. He reappears trembling, looking cadaverous after having lost 30 pounds in just 7 days, and is a nervous wreck hiding a dark secret he refuses to share even with his partners in crime fighting. I hope you're waiting for the amazing delivery on this stark promise of danger. I still am.
Which is the problem with They Died Twice (an aside: why is this named They Died Twice? The title seems to have no connection whatsoever with the story). They Died Twice introduces a whole lot of promising subplots and mysteries, (like why is Doc suddenly disowned by the ancient Mayan tribe and he and his men now marked for death?) and yet fails to deliver on any of them.
I think part of the problem is the length (I am also trying valiantly to find an excuse). This is one of the short Doc adventures and it suffers accordingly. Maybe the problem is that this is more of an outline that the fully fleshed book. Maybe that is why so many things fall flat and don't deliver. Even the ending is a rushed nothingness that ends, literally, like a flying airplane slamming into the side of a mountain.
This book has immense potential. It just doesn't live up to it. Nevertheless, solely because of the storyline elements involved here, it has to remain a solid piece of the Doc Savage canon.
- | - August 9, 2005 03:10 PM