Title: The Mark of Zorro
Author: Johnston McCulley
Genre: Pulp Adventure
Rating: 4 of 5
Warning: this review contains the spoiler of Zorro’s secret identity. Of course, that is probably only marginally less known than the fact that Clark Kent is Superman so it’s not much of a spoiler. Still, it would be a huge spoiler for the book if you somehow didn’t know so…you have been warned.
There have been many incarnations of Zorro ranging from truly entertaining to so-bad-it’s-good (the full color 15 minute episodes that came on after MacGyver when I was a teen in Brazil were hilariously lousy). This book is the original and it was good cheesy fun as Señor Zorro (only once or twice is he just plain Zorro) fights against and punishes abuses of power.
My favorite part of this book was the hero’s behavior when he is being Don Diego. This version of Don Diego acts like a ridiculous, languid fop so that no one could possibly associate him with the dashing Señor Zorro. Don Diego’s seemingly naive questioning of those humiliated by Señor Zorro is one of the more entertaining elements of the book.
This Zorro does not wield a whip (except in one instance of avenging a wrongly-beaten friar), preferring to hold people at pistol point long enough to set up a fair one-on-one sword fight. He only carves a Z into something once, but the plot features the usual mustache-twirling villains, spunky damsels in distress, galloping horse chases, etc. that you expect from the adventures of The Fox. I was expecting the book to end on some kind of cliffhanger setup for Zorro’s next great adventure, but it actually rounds off with what could easily be a “happily ever after” ending…enough so that I’m curious how Zorro ever managed to have any more adventures…I guess I’ll have to track down the next book to find out.