Monday, December 18, 2023

Doc Savage #93 - Tunnel Terror

I'm no authority on Doc Savage. I've read a handful of pulp stories featuring the Man of Bronze and his bickering all-star team of supporting characters. I've enjoyed the stories for the most part, but always found the plot-development to build to a disappointing reveal as to who, or what, was creating the hideous, menacing, and all-consuming evil that plagued society for roughly 130-paperback pages. In some books the reveal is senseless, like in Quest of Qui (July 1935) when the mysterious glowing liquid found in the New York harbor is left unanswered. Or, why Vikings appeared ageless in the story. But, with a new mindset and determination, I journeyed into the dark to experience the August 1940 story Tunnel Terror, which was authored by William G. Bogart and reprinted as a Bantam paperback (#93) in February 1979.

Engaging the part of my brain that loves Scooby-Doo and Hardy Boys, I read and enjoyed Tunnel Terror. The book begins with a drifting laborer named Hardrock Hennesey wishing he was in the safety of New York City instead of an undisclosed Western-American mining town. While walking along a rural highway, Hennesey experiences a strange fog that seems to instantly dry out people into a brittle, crispy husk. Someone call Doc Savage!

For sake of time, I'll fast-forward through the complex mini-mystery of how Savage is brought from New York to the mining town. Instead, we get Savage, Renny, Ham, and Monk arriving by plane with their two pointless pets, a pig and a runt-sized ape. Together, they begin interviewing Hennesey and the mining supervisors. The goal is to figure out what the fog is and how it scientifically works. But, the fog can't be duplicated or analyzed until someone can actually find it. The secret is in the mines, specifically an unexplored section that hints at a lost race of giant people that commanded torture and sacrifices. Are the giant people still alive? Are they haunting the mines? Only Savage can find the answer.

Tunnel Terror has a great pace and for the most part is very entertaining. The addition of an engineer's brother, a woman named Chick Lancaster, added a little something extra to the narrative. Her team-up with Savage takes place outside of the mining town and involves an investigation into a missing governor. How his capture ties into the weird fog and dried-up people is the detective journey readers embark on. Overall, nothing to dislike here. Tunnel Terror may be one of my favorites of my small Doc Savage sample size. Recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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