Friday, September 7, 2012
FFB: The Vampire of N’Gobi - Ridgwell Cullum
These are really the only interesting incidents in the book. There is no supernatural element and the “vampire” of the title is meant in the “dangerously seductive woman” manner. A deus ex machina finale culminating in three outrageous incidents -- one of them being a last minute rescue of the hero by a squadron of airplanes from the Rhodesian police force -- leaves the reader exhausted and unsatisfied.
Cullum is better known for his western novels none of which I have read. His style takes some getting used to, it's densely verbose with tangential or parenthetical comments interrupting the flow. About one third of the book is nothing more than exposition. No editor would stand for that kind of writing these days! The book as a whole is very episodic and overly done. For example: several extraneous characters are introduced early on, do their thing, and then never appear again. The real adventure, the real story for the search of the lost city, does not occur until well into the halfway mark of the book.
The Vampire of N'Gobi (1936) is a rather difficult title to find these days. As is usual with scarce titles the copies being offered online are expensive. The cheapest I found was $50 and seemed to be in collectable condition. In my opinion, though it's not really worth tracking down. The story is intermittently interesting however, with the exception of the fantastical elements mentioned above, rather run-of-the-mill. But that is one heckuva DJ, isn't it? Looks to be the same artist who did the covers for all the lost race books by Mark Channing that Lippincott published in the late 1930s.