I recently read a review of my novel WILD INCORPORATED: THE SHATTERED MEN at the Doc Savage Club group page on Facebook. (It’s a private group, so you’ll have to join up if you want to see anything.) The review was by a member named Henry Lopez and the review was very thorough, though somewhat less than positive.
Lopez is a fan of the hero pulps, Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, etc. And he was very excited to read THE SHATTERED MEN. However…
“Perhaps I set my hopes too high. I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately, it fell short.“
The review is almost 1300 words and Lopez covers the plot points and does an overview of all the main characters, which is nice. Unfortunately he was expecting the book’s main character, Harry Calhoun to fade into the background so that the heroes can take over. He was disappointed that Harry remains the main main character throughout the book.
Now, to be fair, he’s not wrong. In an actual hero pulp a character like Harry Calhoun would do just that. You read a hero pulp for the heroes, not for some schlep who gets caught up in the adventure.
Thing is, I based Harry Calhoun on Harry Vincent, the point of view character from the first Shadow novel THE LIVING SHADOW. In that first Shadow adventure The Shadow himself remains an extremely nebulous character. We only get to know who he is through the reactions of other characters when they encounter them. I wanted kind of the same thing for THE SHATTERED MEN. The viewpoint characters are Harry, Phil Parksville and Chelsea Cobbler. It’s only through their eyes that we see the larger than life characters.
It was an oblique approach to the traditional hero pulp, to be sure, but not one without precedent. The Shadow takes centre stage in later books, but in that first one it’s all Harry Vincent.
Obviously that didn’t work for the reviewer, which is fine. It’s not an approach that most would take when creating a pastiche of a traditional hero pulp.
And, honestly, Lopez is kind of correct when he wants to re-title the book “The Shattered Men: A Harry Calhoun adventure, with Wild Incorporated”. That’s a valid criticism. I do spend too much time with Harry, but that’s because, honestly, I love Harry Calhoun. I can hear his voice in my head. When I tell him to go right he goes left. He argues with me. He makes these smartass comments when he should shut up. He makes all kinds of bad decisions but he makes up for it in the end.
Which is why (SPOILER) he joins Wild Incorporated at the end of the book(/SPOILER).
He’s not the traditional hero. He is a smart-ass young Punjabi man from the streets of Toronto. He’s not anyone’s idea of a pulp hero. And I guess somewhere along the way I decided that it was more important to find the ways that someone like Harry could make it into a group of heroes like Wild Incorporated.
I introduce all the members of Wild Incorporated. We see them mainly through Harry’s eyes. As the adventures continue (and they will) readers will learn more about Morrigan Wild and the others. I’m not going to show my hand right away. I’ll play the cards as they need to be played and maybe I’ll even win the game. Either way, readers will eventually learn more about Wild, Bulldog, Fergus, Genesis, Eagle and Chaplin.
Each has their own special area of expertise and that will come to light in subsequent adventures, particularly for Bulldog. The next adventure is called THE DEADLY MISTER PUNCH and a lot of it takes place in London, which is Bulldog’s home town. In that adventure we will discover much more about Bulldog’s expertise, the reasons why he is part of the crew and we will even get a glimpse into his personal life.
Now, Lopez’s review isn’t all bad. At one point he says: “…the author knows how to keep the story going. I can honestly say that I was never bored, the action was well written, and it did compel me to turn the page to see what happened next. The author does attempt to end most chapters with a cliffhanger. For a pulp novel, you really can’t ask for better pacing. In this respect, the novel shines.“
So… I’m quite chuffed about that. Thank you!
He also points out some technical flaws with the Kindle e-book that he purchased. Editing issues which are my fault and mine alone. Mea Culpa, Henry. What can I say? I’ll do a better job next time.
I can’t argue with the the review, mixed though it is. Nevertheless, as Oscar Wilde says “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” So, thank you, Henry Lopez, for talking about my book. I hope you’ll like the next one better and that you will want to stick around for the rest, because there will be more.
The only issue I have with Lopez’s review is one point. He characterizes THE SHATTERED MEN as a 50k word book. I’ll have you know that the final word count is 51,366. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I worked hard at those 1,366 words and I will have them acknowledged!
If you have a review of WILD INCORPORATED: THE SHATTERED MEN or if you know of one, good bad or indifferent, let me know!
You can leave a full review or just a link to one in the comments. I’d appreciate that greatly!