‘The Wailing Octopus’ Rocks

This is another “Rick Brant Electronic Adventure” by Hal Goodwin (writing as John Blaine), this one from 1956.

I love these books! For one thing, Hal Goodwin really knew what he was talking about. He worked for just about every government agency you could think of, and he visited all those exotic locales he wrote about. He was very much in the technological forefront of his time: without the electronics he knew and described, the hi-tech we take for granted in our own lives would never have come into existence.

But more than that, these books are out-and-out fun. Goodwin kept the series going for some 25 years, and yet Rick and Scotty and the other characters never age, never change. Sick and tired of getting recorded messages on the phone from your local cops, telling you there’s freezing rain outside and you’d better not drive? Had it up to here with judges and politicians redefining every aspect of human life?

Open one of these books and retreat back into a time of sense and sanity.

Today’s “Young Adult” fiction focuses on peer pressure, stupid school, and sex. Rick and Scotty are too busy solving crimes and having adventures in way-out places to bother with any of that. In this outing, they go down to the Caribbean for a little treasure-hunting, only to get caught in an undeclared war between the U.S. Navy and some very shady and desperate characters.

When this was written, scuba diving was cutting-edge new, Jacques Cousteau had yet to become a household name, and underwater adventure was a new thing for readers. Sea Hunt wouldn’t come along till  a few years later. Even so, you can learn quite a bit about scuba diving as you read this book. I learned something extremely alarming about scuba tanks, and am resolved to give them a wide berth in the future.

You can get this book via amazon.com, used, not very expensive: this year it was one of my Christmas presents. In fact, I asked for it. And I’m glad I did.

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