1 thought on “The Man Who Was Scared

  1. The Man Who Was Scared is an average Doc. Nothing spectacular here at all, from Doc or the villians. It is basically a chemical warfare scare story that is both linear and brief. The most devious part is the fairly elaborate and solid frame that the crooks put on Doc and gang from the beginning. They pin their entire crime on him fairly convincingly. But the book simply does not shine liek so many do.
    There are the usual good moments of action, the Monk-Ham banter, etc., but nothing unique or outstanding. The aids actually plays little part (Monk and Ham are kindap fodder and the rest are all said to be in China on a mission) and Doc does all the work. There are even, sadly, a few cliche moments such as the lady of the tale being the kind who whips her grandfather’s ancient six-shooter out of her handbag when trouble looms. Hmmm, sound like another bronze-headed heroine we know?
    That said, there are a couple of intriguing points about the book to cover. One, Ham sneaks out during one scene to try and redeem himself (and impress the girl) by capturing the crooks alone when he learns some info on their location. Monk notices and follows him. Monk confronts him for going it alone and lying to Doc, “Coming off here without telling us was the dumbest, knot-headedest, crookedest trick–”
    Ham did some necktie grabbing himself. He hauled Monk’s face close to his. “Dumb and knot-headed– that would be a matter of opinion! I was going to send for help if I needed it! But not crooked. Not a bit crooked. All of us freelance, do things the way we want ’em done. We always have. When Doc’s judgment is better, we use that. But we use our own. You know that.” (Bantam p 170)
    Wow. That’s pretty heavy stuff and I wonder if it is unique in the series. We all know they were their by choice and followed Doc of their own free will, but this is pretty harsh rhetoric from Ham. Makes them sound far more like solo operatives who happen to get together occassionally, rather than a team of friends who always work together. I thought this a very strong moment, perhaps strongest of its type in the entire series, in exposing the nature of their collaborations and friendship.
    Secodnly, their in a bizarre twist at the end of the tale, which has absolutely no berring or impact on the tale, but was kind of shocking in its uniqueness. When Doc confronts the head villain, a man named Dr. Shiraz, he recognizes him as the brother of the head villain of their previous adventure! Doc said, “Just last month, we were in Egypt and Arabia. We had quite a lot of trouble there, with a very clever devil who was trying to take over the government of several countries as their governments collapsed in defeat. We finally got the fellow. His name was Shiraz.” I looked it up and that is Count Joe Shiraz of The Pharoah’s Ghost(interestingly he uses a biological weapon in his crimes). How wild is that? Even more bizarre, though, is that it had no effect on this plot at all, and as this plot had been underway for quite some time, it was ongoing when the other was occurring. Therefore, it doesn’t even seem to be motivated by revenge (such as destroying Doc’s reputation for killing his brother)and isn’t said to be part of the other plot, such as joint attempts to destabilize the world, etc. The villain in this book seems unaware of his brother’s actions though he admits he was his brother and attempts to kill Doc. But then it just ends without any sort of resolution or explanation of this bizarre coincidence of back-to-back brother criminals one month to the next.
    Doc’s life is wild!
    Thomas Fortenberry

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