1941-06 The Green Eagle

Cover Date: July 1941
Volume 17 # 5
Copyright Date: Friday, June 20, 1941
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
Bantam Edition # 24, May 1968
Sanctum Edition # 50

WHMC: There are seven folders available in the collection, f. 694-700.

Gimmick:  Many of the stories utilize something especially odd such as invisibility, telepathy, or some other fantastic device.  The closest thing this story has to such a gimmick is the Green Eagle puzzle.

Goal:  The objective is a hidden vein of gold that is very valuable.

Recurring Characters: Doc Savage, Monk Mayfair, Ham Brooks, Renny Renwick, Long Tom Robert, and Johnny Littlejohn.  Both of the pets, Habeas Corpus and Chemistry are present.

The appearance of the first Green Eagle puzzle raises some questions.  It is obvious that Albert Panzer regains consciousness before Ben Duck.  Why then would he give the Green Eagle puzzle to Ben Duck?  If Panzer knew it was fake then why did Panzer’s men come and steal it from Ben Duck later that night?

Another weak spot was having the crooks spot Doc in the napkin holder reflection.  That is simply very weak.  Likewise, there is no explanation as to how Doc discovered the trap when Panzer planned to dynamite the canyon walls down on them.

Carl D’Orr is a walking pun.  His name, D’Orr is a play on the word “door”.  Then there is his accident the night Ben Duck is attacked – “I jumped out of bed and bumped into a blasted door,” said D’Orr shortly.

Not only that, but an older dictionary (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary -1913) states that “dorr” means, “to deceive”.  How appropriate considering the part D’Orr plays in the story.

The Decline: I thought this story had an abnormal flavor.  Doc appears to act out of character several times. 

  • Ben Duck spots McCain (Doc) as he is examining the unconscious Panzer.
  • The sheriff spots McCain in his headlights resulting in his arrest for the robbery.
  • Johanna Hickey gets away from Doc after she escapes from Mr. Smith.
  • Doc is caught spying at the Columbus, Ohio airport.
  • Doc informs the sheriff that he is also “McCain”. There’s no good reason for doing this. 
  • Renny spots Panzer’s hat as he looks over the ridge. Doc casually dismisses it as a buzzard sighting.
  • Doc forgets to use the “Elmer” code when talking to Johnny.

There is nary a mention of Doc’s daily exercise routine.  Ham’s bitter statement concerning the lack of progress also strikes me as out of character. 

Chapter Nine is titled The Coulee War and Chapter Ten is titled The Newsboy but neither titles have any apparent bearing on the story.

I also wonder if this was a severe rewrite by Dent of someone else’s less than perfect effort.  It could be a non-Doc story that was converted by Dent.

The story conclusion is very similar to that of The Thousand-Headed Man.  Renny tells Ben Duck that Doc and his men like what they do and that is reward enough for them.

Some of the inspiration for this story undoubtedly came from a hunting trip Lester Dent undertook in late 1939.  The  La Plata Home Press reported on Thursday, September 7 that Lester Dent and Onie Story were leaving on Friday for a two-week hunting trip in Wyoming.  The two men returned to La Plata on September 21.  The September 25 issue of the Macon Chronicle Herald carried an article on the expedition titled BIG GAME HUNTERS RETURN TO LA PLATA.   The men hunted  elk and antelope in the area around Jackson Hole.  The men said it was cold and snowy on the mountains.  An article in the La Plata Home Press dated September 28 reported that the men spent some time at a ranch in Gillette, Wyoming.  This was likely the home of Dent’s uncle, Bert Norfolk.