As always I would like to thank our friends over at Radio Archives for giving me the opportunity to review another of Will Murray’s Pulp Classic audiobooks. This time it was for Doctor Death: The Gray Creatures, which was written by Harold Ward back in March of 1935 under the pseudonym of Zorro. Now I have to wonder did Ward use the name of Zorro as a nod to the fictional character created by Johnston McCulley back in 1919 or was he using it for the Spanish term of Fox? I haven’t been able to find any answer to my question but thought it was worth pointing out.
Now with other pulp tales the main character is of course the intelligent and dashing hero, much like Doc Savage. Or the cloaked scourge of the underworld in the vein of the Shadow or the Spider. While there is of course a hero in the tales of Doctor Death…the pulp IS named after the villain of the story. Doctor Death was once a Professor of Psychology at Yale University by the name of Rance Mandarin but has now become a mad scientist, this is pulp fiction though so it means he must be even more than that! Mandarin has become a master in the occult arts and thanks to his fanatical belief that the Almighty has commanded him to aid man in turning his back on scientific progress and industry and to do so he has become a servant of Satan and relies on his strange powers of necromancy, consorting not only with the dead but elementals and fiends from the very depths of Hell to slaughter those he has marked for a gruesome demise.
Doctor Death finds himself opposed though by none other than Jimmy Holm, a millionaire criminologist who is also an occultist and a detective in the New York Police Department. Holm is aided by his boss, Inspector John Ricks, as well as a group known as the Secret Twelve. The Secret Twelve is comprised of the top U.S. Civil and Business leaders, not to mention the country’s top criminal gang leader and…the President of the United States!
In the Gray Creatures we find that an important and wealthy Egyptian has been murdered in his apartment, Holm and Ricks quickly realize that this grisly act has all of the trappings of their deplorable foe, Doctor Death. Worse we learn that Holm’s fiance, Nina Fererra who once was an assistant against her will to the Doctor has been kidnapped, the two officers assigned to protect her…murdered.
What plot has Doctor Death concocted this time to hurl the world back into the Dark Ages? What does it have to do with Zombies? Why must Holm and Ricks travel to Egypt? Can Nina be saved in time?
You’ll just have to listen to this fantastic audiobook for yourself to learn these secrets, my friends. Will Murray has knocked it out of the park with this audiobook as he always does. The narrator for this particular tale of Magic, Murder, and Mayhem is Joey D’Auria…who just happened to be Bozo the Clown for WGN-TV from 1984 to 2001.
By following the link up top you can purchase Doctor Death: The Gray Creatures either as a digital download for a mere $11.98 or the CD set for $17.98, of course while you are there you can pick up the first Audiobook featuring Doctor Death entitled 12 Must Die for $9.98 as a digital download or $14.98 as the CD set.
After listening to this offering I came to the conclusion that the delightful 1971 film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes starring the legendary Vincent Price owes no small amount of debt to the likes of Doctor Death.