Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Evil in Pemberley House
The Evil in Pemberley House, by Philip Jose Farmer and Win Scott Eckert is another one of those books where I sat down to read the first few chapters and ended up reading from cover to cover. It' that entertaining. This is a Wold Newton novel, so if you haven't read my previous posts about Farmer's Wold Newton Universe, you can jump over to the link I'm providing at the bottom of the post for further reading.
Shortly after young Patricia Wildman learns of the accidental death of her father, the world famous crime fighter and scientist Clarke Wildman (Doc Savage) she also learns that she is next in line to inherit her family's British estate, Pemberley House. Yes, this is the same Pemberley from Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice. It was purchased at some point from one of Mr. Darcy's descendent's by one of Patricia's ancestors. (The Wildman's are also related to Darcy, but that's a long complicated story.)
Pat travels to England and becomes embroiled in a dark, erotic, Gothic adventure that ultimately involves or connects to other such famous Wold Newton family members as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Sexton Blake, Fu Manchu, the Shadow, etc etc. There are other minor references tossed out to everything from The Avengers TV series to Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. Enough stuff to keep even Jess Nevins busy. The connection to the Greystoke family is very strong and often the book seems to have more to do with Tarzan than Doc Savage, especially in the author's notes at the end of the book. Not a bad thing for me.
Anyway, this novel was begun by Farmer and completed by Eckert. I don't know what or how much material Win had to start with but he's done a great job of finishing the novel in a way that I think would have pleased PJF. It reads very much like one of Farmer's own books.
I did wonder about the omission of any mention of Clarke Wildman's cousin, the original Patricia Wildman (Pat Savage). Since this book seems to be linked to Farmer's earlier works, Tarzan Alive, The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, and Doc Savage: his Apocalyptic Life, then presumably the younger Pat's namesake must exist in the continuity.
The book takes place in the early 1970s and the sexual revolution is in full swing. If the characters aren't having sex, they're thinking about it or talking about it. This means this isn't a book for the kids, though the sex scenes aren't terribly graphic, more in line with PJF's A Barnstormer in Oz than with A Feast Unknown. Pemberley is a short book at only a little over 200 pages but there's a lot of stuff packed in there. Pat is very much Doc's daughter with her bronze skin, gold flecked eyes and a tendency to get her shirts ripped to pieces. The cover is an homage to the classic 'girl running away from house" Gothic romances from the 1960s-1970s. All and all a very sharp little book from Subterranean Press. Any fan of Doc Savage, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, and/or Philip Jose Farmer will want this one in their library. Oh, and Sexton Blake fans as well, because the second half of the book contains a nifty recreation of one of Blake's Weekly Paper Adventures. Highly recommended.
Check out the Wold Newton page here: