- It was purchased for Doc Savage magazine in 1948, but was not published until this Bantam book in 1979;
- It depicts Savage and his team as working for the U.S. Government, a rarity in the collection of stories;
- There is no clear villain, with the plot mainly being one of espionage and the U.S. vs. Soviet Russia, vs. the normal good vs. evil tone of the other books;
- It contains an excellent Afterword by Doc Savage writer Will Murray, who was responsible for finding this manuscript; the afterword walks through each of the editors that oversaw the Doc Savage magazine, and their influence on the types of stories.
Doc Savage sneaks into Russia, where Monk and Ham have been for several months building their identity and gathering information. They are looking for “the Red Spider”, the one man in the Communist government who Stalin trusts with all of his secrets, and the only man who knows whether Soviet Russia has joined the US as the only power with an atomic bomb. They successfully get the information, but then get in between two different factions of the Soviet government – the one in power, and the one that wants to be by exposing the existence of the Red Spider and turning the rest of the Soviet leadership against Stalin for keeping this secret. Doc, Monk and Ham must escape Russia to get the information back to the United Nations.
The Afterword walks through the Editors and the types of stories they enjoyed:
- John L. Nanovic, the editor for the first decade, favoring the invincible, superhuman Man of Bronze;
- Charles Moran, favoring mystery and suspense;
- William de Grouchy, who may have been responsible for a move towards WWII influenced story lines;
- Babette Rosmond, who retitled the magazine Doc Savage, Science Detective;
- William de Grouchy returning, back to the larger than life Savage;
- Daisy Bacon, who killed the Red Spider story.
My sortable table of Doc Savage books is here.
- Written by: Lester Dent, afterword by Will Murray
- Villain: the Soviet Union, written during the beginning of the anti-Russian era of America.
- Doc Gadget: puts two powdered chemicals out the window of the car to determine if they are being followed; if a car runs over both, it creates a perfume-like smell; the supersonic rocket cone Doc rides in is pretty sweet as well.
- By the numbers: Bantam #95, published July 1979