Originally published in February, 1934 (next in line after Brand of the Werewolf), this 14th Doc Savage novel starts off like gangbusters but sags a bit in the middle and kind of limps to an unspectacular finish. Doc does have a few moments where he shows off his amazing prowess and mental abilities, but overall this is another disappointing early entry in the series, unusual in that most pre-1940 supersagas are fun and colorful reads to this day (books like The Polar Treasure and The Phantom City from 1933 are classics of their type, full of imagination, pulse-pounding action and period flavor).
The central gimmick - that the villainous organization known as the Little White Brothers has some machine that enables them to start earthquakes at a precise moment and location - is a good one, if not very credible. Doc and his men are offstage a bit too often for my liking, though, with altogether too many pages devoted to the comings and goings of beak-nosed John Acre, chief of the Antofagasta secret police. It also doesn't help that The Man Who... is about 40 pages longer than the typical Doc Savage novel. Dent doesn't provide enough inventive action and so the book winds up feeling a bit padded.
The Man Who Shook the Earth (great title!) had potential to join the upper-tier ranks in the series, but the execution is not up to snuff. It gets the job done, but writer Lester Dent seems to lose interest somewhat after a vivid opening, and doesn't render the Chilean locale with his customary atmospheric aplomb.
However, many other Doc Savage fans hold this tale in higher regard than I do, so as always, your mileage may vary.
Great James Bama cover on the Bantam paperback edition, though!
My rating: C+
Welcome to the Armchair...
Look out the window. It’s a dark, cold, rainy day. Too nasty to go outside.
Better stay inside, read a good book.
There’s a bookcase over to your left. Run your fingers over the spines. Books of all shapes, sizes and genres; hardbacks, paperbacks. Take your time browsing through the titles. No rush. Find something that feels just right.
Now turn around. Over in the corner is a beat-up, black leather armchair. The leather is faded and cracked in places, the cushions battered. This chair has seen better days. But boy, does it look inviting...
Next to the chair is a standing lamp and a small table. Plenty of room for a nice cup of tea, a plate of cookies, whatever’s your poison.
So switch on the light, settle down with your book, open to page one, put your feet up, and let the author whisk you away to another world.
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