The Seven Agate Devils - May 1936
This Doc adventure has a couple of firsts - Doc in Los Angeles for an extended period and a bald femme fatale. The story involves a series of killings where a carved agate statue is found next to the victim. This is especially peculiar because the statue's face matches the victims.
After racing around Los Angeles and a faux Malibu, Doc, Monk, and Ham go to a movie location far in the desert out by Palm Springs where the trail of the agate statues has led.
This odd and almost great adventure especially suffers from common ailment of a Doc Savage story running out of pages too fast. The authors (Lester Dent and Harold A. Davis) didn't leave enough room for an adequate conclusion.
The story has thrills and chases, Pacific cliffs and western canyon hideouts. It all rushes by too fast and misses many good opportunities. Hopefully Doc and company will return to Hollywood for a proper classic movie studio adventure. This is not that.
For this review I read the Bantam paperback published March 1973, likely purchased new a few years after that. The evocative paperback cover is by Fred Pfeiffer. I find myself liking the Pfeiffer covers more and more. The pulp cover is by Walter Baumhofer. I got the pulp image from mycomicshop.com. I'll give The Seven Agate Devils a 7 out of 10 - low due to the missed chances and the utterly unsatisfying conclusion. The scenes are exciting, but the story never gelled.