From the moment Miles Billings arrived in a little town near Salem Corners called Witches’ Hollow, Hannah the witch began her reign of terror. While innocent people were being “hexed” and reduced to mumbling nonsense, The Man of Bronze went into action, risking his own life and those of his bold allies. Doc Savage plunged into nightmare horrors to subdue the most terrifying Mast of Crime alive.
8 thoughts on “Hex”
Well, this isn’t one of the better Docs. It’s short yet it plods along. However, if you’ve been thinking of reading it, now’s the time. It’s full of witches and skeletons and superstition. Perfect October reading. Reading this month will add to your enjoyment and, believe me, this one needs all the help it can get.
I forgot to mention that this novel also had one of the best descriptions of Doc I’ve ever read. In fact, it emphasizes what sets him apart from the modern day heroes that followed. You can find it in Chapter 4 (page 29 in the Bantam edition) and it runs:
“Trained from childhood along specialized lines, he was a scientific product fitted for an unusual career- that of righting wrongs and punishing evildoers. He was a renowned surgeon, a scientist second to none, a muscular marvel. Also, he was quite human.”
That’s Doc in a nutshell. And the last line is what sets him apart in my book.
Gosh! Mr. Salmon seems to dislike many of the Doc tales I love! ‘Hex’ IS a great Halloween story and also features another description that Mr. Salmon didn’t mention which solidified forever MY image of Doc. Towards the end of the story Doc confronts some crooks who didn’t expect to find him in a vault and the narrative describes how Doc’s head scrapes the 6’8″ roof! From that point on Doc is forever 6’8″ in MY mind, no matter what Farmer or anyone else says!
The Hex you say!
Well, I have to say, sadly, that I agree more with the Salmon view above. This book just wasn’t what it should have been. I love the premise (despite the well-named short plod) and think Doc should have taken on not only Salem witches but every great monster mystery of the world. I’d love to see Dent’s take on Dracula or Loch Ness, for example. Dent had a magical way of taking an old legend and transcending it.
But anyway, back to Hex. As usual, even with a bad Doc (as Barry notes) it has some great scenes. There are also some good Monk moments, and somehow I am reminded that he also dreamed of blond witches in German Occuppied France during the war. Hmmm, might be something here to investigate.
William Bogart’s second contribution to the series is a big improvement over his first (“World’s Fair Goblin.”) Here, Bogart has a fuller grasp of the Dent style of writing and plotting, so that one who doesn’t know any better would think it was a Dent novel. Also an atmospheric setting, memorable characters, and a cleverly realized mystery. One of the best Bantam Bama covers ever! Doc, eerily outlined in half-shadow against the purple misty graveyard background, has an expression almost of shock or astonishment on his face, in contrast to the usual composed, emotionless Doc Bama and the other artists depict. Great cover!
It’s always amazed me how a good cover to a book will make a bad book seem endurable. HEX has one of Bama’s best covers (notice the glow in the cat’s eyes) yet the story is hum-drum at best. This had all the trappings of an unusual Doc, with witches, ghosts, and hexes, but not an awful lot is done with it. I don’t think 1939 was a good year for Doc. Dent was tiring; he was letting too many ghosts do his work; and I think the editors at S&S were losing faith in the character. Or perhaps Doc’s young Depression-era audience was growing up fast (it _was_ the Depression, after all). Who knows? I’m just glad Bantam and Bama invested so much creative effort in the cover. Lovely.
Not a bad yarn overall. Loved the cover! And that detail about Doc’s height… If I remember correctly, the first novel, THE MAN OF BRONZE, gave Doc’s height as 6 feet exactly; so quite an accomplishment growing 8 inches over 6 years! Actually, according to Farmer, Dent increased Doc’s height over the years as the average height for men increased, thus keeping the Bronze Guy well above the average ( although, once again if my memory serves me correctly, Farmer states that by the late ’40s Doc was only topping 6′ 7″ ). The cover of this one alone was well worth the price of admission.
I really enjoyed this one. Besides a fantastic cover, it had Doc state side (which I always prefer). The only problem with the book is I think once the big bad is produced, the book wraps up to fast. The big bad folds like a house of cards. I would have liked to have seen more cat and mouse at the end.