1943-11 The Secret of the Su

Cover Date: November 1943
Volume 22 # 3
Copyright Date: Friday, September 24, 1943
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
Bantam Edition # 125-126, March 1985
Sanctum Edition # 29
Story Length: 35,800 words
WHMC: The collection contains seven folders for this story, f. 858-864.

This story is essentially a rewrite of a prior story. “Fear Cay.” The mystery is presented as an entirely new concept with no reference to the events in the parent story.

The Su are a reclusive tribe secretly living in the Florida Everglades. Their secret is an herb with miraculous healing powers. This is a wartime story, and it is quickly explained how this new drug will save the lives of American soldiers. A criminal gang plans to capture the secret and then cash it in for big bucks.

John Nanovic sent Lester Dent a newspaper clipping in early 1943 that provided a lot of the inspiration for this story. But the basic gist of it appears to be a recycle of the plot for “Fear Cay.”

There are numerous similarities between the two stories.

  • Pat Savage is in both stories.
  • A strange healing herb is the prize.
  • A criminal gang is trying to gain control of the herb.
  • Flesh eating ants guard the herb in “Fear Cay.” The Su are a lost race who use trained hawks whose claws are capped with drugged points.
  • The final scenes take place on an island in both stories. In “Fear Cay” it is an island in the Caribbean while in “Secret of the Su” it is an island in the Florida everglades.

The working title for this story was “Death Wore a Golden Bell.”

Series Continuity
An unusual comment is made concerning Ham’s nickname. Ham didn’t like pork or pigs in any form. It was this dislike that earned him the nickname of Ham. This account is markedly different from the other versions explaining the nickname’s origin. All other stories explain that Ham was hauled up on charges of stealing hams when he and Monk were both in the army.

Similarly, no mention is ever made of silphium, the herb encountered in “Fear Cay.”

Comics: The Spirit has an adventure that is remarkably similar to that of Doc Savage. The story is “Double Eagle” from March 12, 1944.

An Indian chief shows up with a pet bear. He possesses a secret that a criminal gang is trying to obtain. He explains at the story’s conclusion.

It turns out Chief Double-Eagle has developed a serum from the herbs and inoculated his pet bear with it. The new serum is turned over the National Health Association.