THE DESERT DEMONS
The All-New Wild Adventures of Doc Savage
by Will Murray & Lester Dent, writing as Kenneth Robeson
Altus Press, 2011
With apologies to Will Murray - my typing abilities are still limited so this review is shorter than I normally would write.
I have a confession. Until now, I had never read a Doc Savage story: None of the 1930s, nor any of the later publications and reprints. So did I do a good thing by picking THE DESERT DEMONS, the newly published collaboration between Will Murray and the late Lester Dent, as my first Doc Savage novel? The answer is yes, because reading this one makes me want to read more stories about the Man of Bronze.
The first new Doc Savage novel in 20 years is about a bizarre swarm of red "things" that drop down from the sky in 1930s Hollywood and devour anything in its path. It's choice of prey seems random at first as it destroys everything it descends upon, even the HOLLYWOODLAND sign. It's up to Doc Savage and his band of eccentric but talented and fiercely loyal crew members to figure it out. There's a twist though: somehow Doc's cousin Pat has disappeared during the initial chaos.
This story has everything a pulp fiction lover could want: a fast moving story with nonstop action with twists and turns that send Doc and his gang all over Los Angeles, to the desert, San Diego, up to Bakersfield, and back. What I particularly loved were the bizarre gadgets and the emphasis on science, whether factual or far-fetched: I think steampunkers will love this story.
At the end of the book is a short biography of Lester Dent, another of Will Murray, and one of the cover artist Joe DeVito. These summaries helped me understand the chain of events that led to Will becoming the literary agent for the estate of Lester Dent and the person lucky enough to have the opportunity to take Dent's unfinished works and piece them together into fantastic pulp fiction like THE DESERT DEMONS. I understand the deluxe hardcover edition (available through Altus Press website) also has an extensive Afterword that goes into detail as to how Murray pieced together parts of Dent's unifinished writings to come up with THE DESERT DEMONS.
I understand there are a total of 7 novels that Murray will be writing in collaboration with the unfinished works of Dent. The next due out is HORROR IN GOLD. Like every kid during the Depression who was a loyal fan of the DOC SAVAGE magazine, I'll be waiting impatiently for it.