Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE INFERNAL BUDDHA by Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray)

Doc Savage the Infernal Buddha

I loved the cover of this new Doc Savage novel from the moment I saw it. Reminded me of Pirate of the Pacific, one of the early Doc novels. From what I gathered in the pages of this one, the adventure is set sometime in 1936 or 1937. The Japanese-Chinese war is raging, and Hitler is building up his armies in Germany, so the world is tense.

The story reads simply enough and has some unexpected twists and turns, but some of them bordered on the edge of too-far-fetched even for a Doc novel. The eventual reveal regarding Dang Mi jumped the shark, I thought, a purely nautical condition I suppose, but Will Murray plays it off as something Lester Dent would have done. As memory serves, Dent, or one of the other Doc writers, did do this on occasion. However, Dang Mi’s callous disregard of his pirates did not prepare me for that reveal. It was like the character did a 180 somewhere in there.

Despite the multitude of action sequences in the book, some of them dragged on rather than remaining compact. There’s a lot of good action, fights, chases, sailing action, etc., but Doc got stumped by circumstances more often than not.

The research into the area, the language, and the history is apparent and provides a lot of welcome information that immerses the reader in the South China Sea world.

I like to see Doc in action as a medical person too, but the sequence with the wood tick is just weird and doesn’t fit in. Likewise, Monk’s reaction to the treatment of the patient is over the top. I know the scene is supposed to establish Doc as a person who cares, but readers already know that. The scene plays out without much reward and serves more as a diversion from the main story.

The parts showing Renny as an engineer and person were well done and I enjoyed them a lot. I enjoyed the sailing sequences and skirmishes at sea a lot, but they got long at the end as well.

The thing that bugged me the most was that we don’t really get to see what the Buddha is or what created it. (SPOILER ALERT – yes, I grew those crystals in my science kit as a kid too, and didn’t really care what they were, but this is a novel and I’m supposed to get a solution to all the mysteries. Leaving out the true nature of the Buddha and ending the threat so easily didn’t satisfy.)

Overall, nobody writes Doc as well as Will Murray and I’ll be reading more of the new books.


One Response to “THE INFERNAL BUDDHA by Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray)”

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