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Pat Savage: Six Scarlet Scorpions (The Wild Adventures of Pat Savage) (Volume 1) Paperback – October 13, 2016
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Monk Mayfair is with Pat Savage in Oklahoma, where he’s helping the bronzed beauty lay claim to oil leases. They start out in trouble when a crook sabotages her rented plane while trying to beat her to a lease. They survive the crash, and then Monk pulls a stunt on the crooks, allowing Pat to make the lease first. But their troubles aren’t over. When they reach town they run into a man almost dead from lack of blood. While rushing him to the hospital a gang waylays them and a cop is killed at the scene. But now Pat and Monk are on the investigation of this weird mystery. A mystery that involves the Vinegarroon whip scorpions and a tribe of Osage Indians led by Tall Turkey and the mysterious robed leader, Standing Scorpion.
Readers and fans of the Doc Savage adventures have been waiting for this book since Will Murray took over the series. Patricia Savage, the bronzed cousin of Doc Savage, was always a favorite of the fans, having been introduced in Brand of The Werewolf. Mr. Murray found notes Lester Dent had proposed for a 1931 pulp adventure story, and turned it into a Pat Savage yarn instead, and the result might outshine Doc himself.
As a fan of Doc Savage I’ve always worried that Doc would run it course and cease to interest fans; after all, the original series ran for 181 (plus the unpublished RED SPIDER) stories in the pulps, and readers have wondered if new adventures would even be possible, and how long could new stories sustain the series? Well, I don’t think the interest will really fade, but if it should, I think Pat Savage will quickly revive the series. The Six Scarlet Scorpions is a topnotch tale that will insure success, and I’m sure we will see many more adventures of The Wild Adventures of Pat Savage in the future. Highly recommended.
But those minuses turned out to be a plus. Freed from Doc’s ultra-heroic trappings, Pat Savage is a different type of hero. She’s more vulnerable, more fallible, more relatable, and a lot less uptight about showing her emotions—and her sense of humor. At the same time, she has a special quality of her own. As described in Chapter 1, “There was something electric in the way she moved, as if she might shed sparks at any moment. It was not merely the vitality of youth, but a quality that might never depart her.”
And though Pat has enough personality to carry the book on her own, she doesn’t have to, because her co-pilot for this adventure is Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair, the apish chemist otherwise known as “Monk.”
For Monk, too, this tale is a bit of a departure. We’re not only treated to a glimpse of his past, as he revisits his home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but he displays a different side in his interactions with Pat. In Doc’s adventures, he’s either trading barbs with his rival/pal Ham, or teamed up with Doc himself, who is all but allergic to his humor. With Pat, we see a different type of rivalry, and a different type of camaraderie. Pat gives him as much guff as he dishes out, but without Ham’s acidity.
Pat and Monk are in Oklahoma because Pat has an itch to get rich, and Monk, who once worked as a roustabout, suggests leasing options on potential oil fields. As you’d expect, they soon find themselves up to their necks in bad guys and wanted for a laundry list of crimes—including murder.
Pat, armed with her grandfather’s old Colt Peacemaker, takes the lead in the investigation, partly because she insists this is her own mystery to solve, and partly because she’s able to move about in disguise, while the too-conspicuous Monk is forced to stay out of sight. “You,” Pat tells him, “stick out like a wart on a banana.”
The plot itself is quite Doc-like, and it ought to be, seeing that’s it’s based on the outline of an unwritten story left behind by Lester Dent. I was privileged to have a look at that outline, and it features an unemployed Tulsa oil-field worker named O’Shea. While following the basic structure of Dent’s plan, Will Murray vastly expanded the scope and added fantastic elements, while smoothly sliding Pat and Monk into O’Shea’s role as hero.
The mysterious head villain, Chief Standing Scorpion, is Will’s invention, as are the gang of Tommy Gun-toting Osage Indians who do his dirty work. The same goes for many of the supporting characters with very Dent-sounding names: Jim Dandy, Tall Turkey, Grabber Daly and “Thunder” Cloud.
The result is a bullet-ridden romp through Oklahoma and the oil business, with Monk—between shots and scrapes—playing tour guide. Pat Savage emerges from Doc’s shadow, proving herself more than equal to the challenge and worthy of more adventures on her own. Here’s hoping we get them!