ERB Book Reviews

ERB Book Reviews

Edgar Rice Burroughs book reviews from fans like you.

The Efficiency Expert

Reviewed by: Nkima 1995-02-05

Notes for The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Efficiency Expert is a pretty good little story. I read it on Sunday afternoon 2-5-95.

The EE runs along at a steady pace like a movie script. The main character, Jimmy Torrence reminds one of the Mucker or of Jack London's Martin Eden in that he is a typical Horatio Alger type of hero who gets ahead in the world by his own honesty and good character. Jimmy is a typical Burroughsian hero, a pugilist who wins his battles by punching the bad guys (remember John Carterís first battle). He is a shy man with the ladies but a chivalrous gentleman to the last.

The EE is an example of ERB's smooth story-telling technique. There are no great complications in character or plot to get in the way of a fast-paced story. In a way, it is remarkable how one accepts the usual coincidental turns of Fate -- one is really carried through to the end without boredom even though it's easy to guess what is going to happen at the end. While reading the EE I wondered if I were becoming a reflection of my mother-in-law with her hundreds of Romance and Mystery novels lined up on the long shelf above her bed. Can I really be reading and enjoying this easy stuff?

The court room ending comes rather quickly, sketched in rapidly, but by then, why not; the outcome is so obvious.

The neat part of the novel is the way all the threads are picked up and woven together. Some thought did go into this little book, but I wonder if it was not just the case of a very good story-teller writing it as he went along and fortuitously tying everything together.

One shouldn't get too long-winded about the EE. The obvious references to Chicago, ERBís own college experiences, his own and his fatherís businesses can be looked up in Porges. It's a quick read, but a pleasant one. One gets the impression that ERB must have been a good talker, thinking fast on his feet like Jimmy Torrence. I doubt that the EE is anyoneís favorite, but sometimes it's nice to spend an afternoon with a black and white B-movie from the 1920's. Bring your own popcorn.

June 25, 1999

It has been over 4 years since I have read this story. I started writing about ERB in 1995, so there has been a lot of water over the dam since this time. Yet my notes donít seem too bad to me.

Some things like ERB's speedy tying up at the end seems more normal to me now. I still think that those little "Mystery Puzzles" are a key to his mind set. ERB could hold a lot of threads at one time, then bring them all together in a neat well-woven pattern almost like a magic trick. You can sometimes guess what the general pattern will be, but he always seems to have another card up his sleeve.

Somehow it seems odd that Burroughs couldn't write a real mystery story -- they always seem to spin off into fantasy. Like John Carter, he couldn't stay on one place very long, always saking, or like Tarzan, always running off to another fantastic lost city. ERB's whole life is jumping from one damned thing after another.