The Devil–With Wings by L. Ron Hubbard
Publisher: Galaxy Audio/Galaxy Press
Format/Source: Multi-cast performance audiobook from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
And now we bring you the gripping tale from the Far East, where our daring hero has been declared dead!
I love two things that set me up for success with this book.
1. I love old radio broadcasts from the 1930s to the early 1960s. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to them every Sunday (or any day during the week through streaming) on The Big Broadcast, my local radio station’s special program. And I recite: “Around Dodge City and in the territory out West, there’s just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers…and that’s with a U.S. Marshall and the smell of…GUNSMOKE!” (I’m not kidding when I say that I love and have grown up with these programs and stories.)
2. I also enjoy pulp fiction. In fact, I used to go to a hole-in-the-wall independent used bookstore in one the many ‘old towns’ in the area to hunt down pulp fiction paperbacks. Such titles as, “The Bed She Made” (a moralistic tale about a woman who had boyfriends, and thought she might be pregnant, only to discover that she wasn’t and decided she shouldn’t have boyfriends) and “The Horizontal Man”, a story if I remember correctly was about a man who had his own kind of vices and revelations.
When I won six (yes, six of these audiobooks!) from LibraryThing, I was a little freaked out by creepy technology. I swear I’ve never admitted my love for radio shows in a review before, and maybe only briefly expounded on my love for pulp fiction. Still, I was a little nervous about what might be contained in these stories from the early twentieth century in a multi-cast performance. Because as much as I love the genre, I am also aware that it is perhaps one of the rougher forms of writing in terms of its simplistic style and sweeping generalizations.
The Devil—With Wings is in my opinion, classic pulp fiction with the following elements:
• Orientalism (why look how strange these people are in this part of the world! How mystical and baffling!)
• A strong male character
• A beautiful submissive woman
• Dead-pan one-liners
• Action-oriented and light on character development
Taking place in Manchukuo (I think) right before the Second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, it is spy vs. spy between Japanese intelligence officer Captain Ito Shinohari and British Marine intelligence officer “Akuna no Hane” (The Devil with Wings). American Patricia Weston is looking for her missing and presumed dead brother, Robert Weston, and finds herself under the control of Akuna no Hane and his trusty sidekick, Chin.
At first, I had a hard time understanding what was going on and to get used to the multi-cast performance of the audiobook. Having listened to many audiobooks recently, it was a bit of a shift to have sound effects. While reminiscent of those radio broadcasts I love, it is not that. It is not a script, but a novel read out by a narrator with actors performing the dialogue with sound effects in the background. That said, once I got into the style, I enjoyed it a lot. It was fun and quick moving; it is too short to have moments of mundane details.
A reader of this kind of story has to accept that times were different at the time it was written and things that are politically incorrect now were fairly acceptable back then. It’s certainly not literature. It is an enjoyable and quick story that is action-packed.
My rating: 4/5