Happy Bones — sinister island in the Caribbean that harbors a secret wealth vital to the success of World War II. The Man of Bronze exposes the Germans and undergoes one of the most shattering confrontations of the war. And Doc encounters the beautiful and savage Hannah, the last descendant of a lusty line of pirate marauders.
2 thoughts on “Mystery on Happy Bones”
This one has become something of a “grail book” as it is the last of the Bantam singles. Having just finished this one, I think it IS memorable not so much for the story, which is only mildly interesting, but for the subtle touches Dent uses throughout the novel. This one was written in ’43 and Doc is not the all-powerful Doc of old. Early on in Chapter 2 (pg.17 of the Bantam) Dent gives us a description of Doc that emphasizes that his greatness stems from “personality and character” rather than ability. And in Chapter 3 (pg. 25-26), Doc is also humanized by (what is for me the first though I haven’t read the books in order)his admission that his abilities make him uncomfortable and how he hadn’t thought much about them when he was younger but does now that he is more mature. Here is a poignant insight into Doc’s character that one simply does not find in the earlier books. Also he is roughed up by Hannah — the female lead — and experiences pain like he never did before. And there’s more. Doc needs a rope to climb a wall, he makes a mistake trying to escape. These seem minor but they set up a startling revelation in Chapter 9! Pages 83-85 (Bantam) are remarkable! After being caught by surprise by some thugs, Doc feels ashamed because he should have been ready and is plague by self-doubt, wondering if some part of his mental ability might be slipping and how he can reconcile that with his love for adventure. This is great stuff! And it sets up the rest of the book where Doc pushes himself to the limit in scene after scene. Right after this great scene, Doc takes charge of a seemingly hopeless situation, he dives off a 100 foot cliff, swings from tree to tree like Tarzan with Hannah on his back. Dent has Doc pushing himself to the limit, testing whether or not he still has it. These touches make this otherwise ordinary story one of the best and add to Doc’s motivation for “retiring” after Up From Earth’s Center. In Happy Bones, Doc goes from a somewhat one-dimensional superman to a complex character. Great stuff!
I have to agree with you there, Andrew. At the time I read this, I’d only ever read one other of the non-superman Docs ( THE LOST GIANT ). Seeing Doc Savage stripped of his prowess was a bit of a shock after his Herculean stunts of the earlier supersagas ( who could forget, for instance, Doc lifting half-a-ton of rock and debris off himself in LAND OF TERROR?! ), and seeing him downed by only three men in the early chapters seemed quite wierd. This aside, however, the insight into Doc the man that Dent so uforgettably gave us in this tale more than compensated for any feelings of disappointment I may have felt. Not one of the best in the series as far as the actual story goes, but a very rewarding read, nevertheless.