Monday, November 21, 2016

The Statement of Andrew Doran by Matthew Davenport review

    Indiana Jones meets Titus Crow. This is pretty much the basics you need to understand about Matthew Davenport's Andrew Doran novels. Andrew Doran is a two-fisted adventurer archaeologist who travels the globe looking for artifacts which might be used against humanity by cultists or Nazis. Particularly Nazis. The books are straight forward, serious about their subject matter, and not too different from the Pulps which they draw inspiration.

    The premise of this volume is Andrew Doran has been summoned back to Miskatonic University by its Dean in order to recover the Necronomicon. It's been stolen by the Third Reich and they're going to use it to take over the world (of course!-M. Bison). Andrew Doran makes a B-line for neutral territory, reaches France, joins up with the French Resistance, and then heads to Berlin in order to face down the Ghostoppo (sadly, not their real name).

    H.P. Lovecraft's work was rooted in a time of Doc Savage, the Shadow, and Conan the Barbarian with Andrew Doran's work drawing heavily from those time periods. Unfortunately, the work suffers a little for the fact Andrew isn't nearly as over-the-top as those individuals. He's closer to Lovecraft's own protagonists in, hero or not, he has a subdued scholarly personality which is more introspective than not.

    Andrew Doran isn't without his flaws, he's arrogant and self-righteous, which blinds him to the dangers of the people around him. I prefer this to the flawless heroes of the Pulp days and it's part of the reason why Indiana Jones is a superior movie protagonist to the Phantom or Rocketeer. He's also, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a lech and all too eager to seduce whatever woman finds their way into his adventuress--usually without much success.

    I was very interested in the world-building which showed a world where the Nazis, cultists, and American institutions were all feuding over the supernatural. One thing I give Matthew Davenport points on is the fact he had the Cult of Yig working against the Nazis. I like this kind of factionalism and would have been interested in seeing more "evil" cults working against the Nazis and vice versa. Cthulhu's worshipers, after all, tend to be among the people which Hitler wasn't terribly fond of.

    I was also a big fan of the Olivia character. While the beautiful French Resistance fighter is something which has been done in other works, she has a twist here which surprised me. I was quite interested in what she was really up to until the final revelation. I think Matthew Davenport has a talent for femme fatales and hope we'll see more of them in his upcoming works. I also liked the supporting character of Leo who is quite entertaining in his unabashed jealousy as well as resentment of Andrew.

    The best part of the book is the globe-trotting sections where there's a lot of interesting minor adventures which I enjoyed. The parts where they have to flee the Nazis into the undead-haunted series, meeting with a twisted Cthulhu cultist, and an encounter with Innsmouth survivors on the high seas all are stand-outs here. I think the book could have slowed down a bit, actually, and soaked up the atmosphere of the locations a bit more but that's a minor complaint to the fact this really does feel like an international adventure.

    Does the book have other flaws? A few. The villains seem a tad underdeveloped. Why are the Nazis trying to raise Cthulhu? Do they think they can control him? What does the traitor get out of this? I wasn't quite sure because his explanation seemed rather confused. There's also a few minor grammatical errors which were only mild distractions.

    In conclusion, if you like a Pulpy Masks of Nyarlathotep-esque book then this is probably the story for you.


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