Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Review of "Don Winslow Saves the Secret Formula," by Frank V. Martinek

 Review of

Don Winslow Saves the Secret Formula, by Frank V. Martinek

Four out of five stars

Action/adventure story of the early forties

 Written while Word War II was raging in Europe, but the United States was not yet involved, this is a story must stick to conventional non-alien villains. The basic premise is that the United States is in possession of chemical formulas for extremely deadly new gases that could be used to wipe out entire populations. The two heroes are U. S. Navy Commander Don Winslow and his faithful sidekick Lieutenant Red Pennington. Their main adversary is known as Scorpion and his sidekick is his daughter, known as the Mask.

 The Scorpion is a strong villain, suitable as an adversary of James Bond. His goal is world domination and the purpose of his acquiring the formulas for the extremely deadly gases is to pursue that aim. The Scorpion’s agents are everywhere, and the story opens with Don and Red in possession of the formulas on the way to a secluded lab where a expert chemist is conducting research.

 A major snowstorm intervenes on their way to the lab and their adventure becomes one of determining who can they trust. The Scorpion has a massive underground facility for residence and operations much like the Bond villains. There is no mention of the Scorpion having any international affiliation or backing.

 There are two women on the Winslow side of the battle, the daughter of a high-ranking naval officer and a large black woman that fits the stereotype used in the forties. The daughter provides some expansion of the plot, the black woman does not.

 This adventure is right out of the serials, the adventure moves along with miniature cliff hangers, failures that allow the story to move along. The Scorpion proves to be very elusive, very well financed and willing to allow his workers to be killed in order to advance his cause. Of course, the formulas are recovered, yet a great deal of room is left to continue the adventures of Don Winslow.

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