Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Farewell Nikola (1901) by Guy Boothby

With this I finish up the five Dr Nikola books by Guy Boothby.  In many ways Boothby has taken us back to the first book A Bid for Fortune.  Richard Hatteras is traveling with his wife Phyllis and his friend The Marquis of Beckenham who all appeared in the first book. The trio and Phyllis' companion Gertrude Trevor are visiting Venice when they encounter Nikola on the streets of Venice.

Nikola is certainly holding no ill will towards his opponents from five years before and they don't seem to hold anything against him, frequently joining him on social events.

We discover much of Nikola's history as he reveals to his new friend about the South American governor who wooed his mother and then abandoned her.  After the death of his mother, the Governor unknowingly adopted Nikola as the companion for his son.  The son was encouraged to mistreat Nikola and Nikola still bears scars from his mistreatment.

As luck would have it the son, using the name Don Jose de Martinos, happens to be in Venice fleeing from his misdeeds in Central America.  Nikola is taking advantage of this to get his revenge by turning the Don into a beast man.

Through the intervention of  Gertrude, Nikola is persuaded to abandon his revenge and he retires to a Buddhist temple in Tibet.  It is implied that Nikola will try his immortality experiments one more time and that he will age prematurely.

In the first two books Nikola gets away with what he wants.  In the third book, he is thwarted and in each successive volume this seems to keep happening.  I have a fondness for Nikola and even if I disagreed with his methods it was interesting to follow his quest for immortality. 

The first book was the one I liked best of the series but Dr Nikola's Experiment was interesting to finally see what Nikola's long term plan was. Nikola has since appeared a few times since this book Doc Savage: Doom Dynasty and The Soldier Legacy's Strange Tales and Sherlock Holmes Dark Detective.  Kim Newman makes a very quick mention of Nikola in Anno Dracula.

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