Greetings from The Raven!

May. 25, 2019

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XIII 2019 Annual (1881-1890) Edited by David Marcum

New stories that keep Holmes alive and benefit Undershaw, home of his intrepid creator!

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my copy of this book…

We are now into the 13th volume in this exciting series. The readers who love this series will note familiar names among the authors along with new ones. David Marcum’s skill in story selection is without peer, and I always look forward to new mysteries as the series continues. May there be many more!

As I move on to the individual stories, I promise to keep all spoilers to a minimum. I will not give away any solutions to the cases. I promise.

  • After the many forwards, the book opens with a poem. Inscrutable is by Jacquelynn Morris.
  • “The Folly of Age” by Derrick Belanger concerns a woman who removes her money from her bank only to have it vanish from her home… It makes a rather nice little puzzle!
  • “The Fashionably Dressed Girl” by Mark Mower deals with a client mentioned in “A Study in Scarlet” returning with a new case. I like this one a lot!
  • In “The Odour of Neroli” by Brenda Seabrook, someone is causing trouble for a forward-thinking Doctor and his equally capable wife. Top notch!
  • “The Coffee House Girl” by David Marcum is about the problems plaguing a young woman who runs Watson’s favorite coffee house. I like the way this one flows start to finish.
  • “The Mystery of the Green Room” by Robert Stapleton has Dr. Watson’s care of a small girl tie in with Holmes’ investigation into a bank robbery. For me, this one is one of the best in the book! Encore!
  • “The Case of the Enthusiastic Amateur” by SF Bennett concerns Watson’s investigations for his friend Thurston. This may be the absolute best in the book! Wow!
  • “The Adventure of the Missing Cousin” by Edwin A Enstrom deals with cousins who inherit a lot of money only to have one of them vanish. A marvelous twist in this one!
  • “The Roses of Highclough House” by MJH Simmonds is the tale of Matthew Newton, who accuses his twin sisters of murdering their father. The problem is that the father’s death is an apparent suicide… It makes a remarkable story!
  • “The Shackled Man” by Andrew Bryant deals with a man found shackled to the wall of a ruined castle. I like it!
  • “The Yellow Star of Cairo” by Tim Gamwell delves into the realm of horror as a man has been killed and the sole witness states the murderer was an ancient mummy! I think it is a wonderful mystery!
  • “The Adventure of the Winterhall Monster” by Tracy J Revels finds a young governess at 221B with a tale of a little girl and a half-glimpsed shape the child calls her monster… This solution might be a bit predictable, but the story is beautifully written…
  • “The Grosvenor Square Furniture Van” by Hugh Ashton is mentioned in passing in NOBL. The Duke of Staffordshire vanishes regularly from a locked study… It’s OK
  • “The Voyage of Albion’s Thistle” by Sean W Wright is a Mycroft Holmes tale. I didn’t really like it…
  • “Bootless in Chippenham” by Marino C Alverez is a strange story with a strange musical instrument. Sorry, I don’t like it…
  • “The Clerkenwell Shadow” by Paul Hiscock deals with a young woman stalked on her way home from work. The “damsel in distress” theme is a recurring one in the Holmes tales, and this one is a fine example.
  • “The Adventure of the Worried Banker” by Arthur Hall concerns a series of violent strangulations and a missing policeman. It’s an excellent story!
  • “The Recovery of the Ashes” by Kevin P Thornton is about cricket, and I’ll be the first to tell you the world of cricket is a closed mystery to me. I will give kudos for including crook and cricketer AJ Raffles…
  • “The Golden Star of India” by Stephen Seitz has a returning client, the Duchess of Morcar {BLUE} Another fabulous jewel vanishes, this time in a singular bank robbery… It’s nice but it seems unfinished at the conclusion…
  • “The Mystery of the Patient Fisherman” by Jim French is a radio play that brings up Holmes’ rule “No ghosts need apply.” I thought the story's solution a tad predictable…
  • “Sherlock Holmes in Bedlam” by David Friend begins with Watson returning to London and discovering Holmes chained to the wall as a mental patient! This is a delight to read!
  • “The Adventure of the Ambulatory Cadaver” by Shane Simmons is narrated by Wiggins, who discovers a dead man in the streets. What is odd is it disappears every time he brings a cop, only to turn up down the road! It is an exceptional story!
  • “The Dutch Imposters” by Peter Coe Verbica deals with Holmes investigating the world of art, and finding push back from an unusual quarter… It is phenomenal!
  • “The Missing Adam Tiller” by Mark Wardecker has Holmes taking a case from a man he knows is a pickpocket! It lets the book end on a high note.

I give the volume as a whole four stars. There were enough stories that I didn’t like to cost the book a star…

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 17, 2019

The Shadow Double Novels #100 by Maxwell Grant

I am going to assume that anyone that is likely to read this review knows the Shadow’s back-story. The really great thing about the Shadow novels is that the back-story isn’t repeated over and over ad infinitum throughout the series, unlike other pulp heroes.

To the Shadow, the weed of crime bears bitter fruit. He knows the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. The Shadow knows! The whisper of his laugh can freeze a killer in his tracks! The suggestion of moving darkness causes criminals to startle and swear. Many have tried to shoot it out with the Shadow. Few survived. Even wounded, the Shadow was a match for desperados everywhere.

Yet without the cape and hat, the Shadow might be any number of people. A master of disguise, he often fools people who have known the person he imitates for many years! To fans of the radio show, sorry, but while Lamont Cranston is the Shadow, the Shadow is NOT Lamont Cranston! Cranston is a real person, often in far-flung corners of the globe, so he makes a convenient face for the Shadow—with the real Cranston’s full knowledge and permission!

The true name of the Shadow is not revealed until issue 131 The Shadow Unmasks. And yet at times, even this identity is questionable. Perhaps the Shadow, like the Joker, prefers his life to be multiple choice!

As for these stories:

The Death Triangle was published on October 15, 1933

This story was written by the original Maxwell Grant, Walter Gibson. Crime is underway and the Shadow has discovered three positions that form the area of a triangle. Writing notes to himself in his sanctum, he identifies them thus: The Murderer, the Informant, and the Betrayer! At stake is a mysterious deed, the legacy of Cyril Wycliff to his son, Howard. People are after that deed, which seems to be worth killing for…

The Crimson Death was published 8/1/1941

This story was written by the second Maxwell Grant, Theodore Tinsley. A daring robbery seems to net only a pink powder. It has been vacuumed into a tanker truck, then replaced with a similar powder. In a major double cross, the truck is wrecked deliberately, and the mastermind takes a few pounds of the powder, then sets the rig alight. Among many other qualities, the powder is super inflammatory, burning with tremendous heat and difficult to put out.

People begin to die from what is termed “the falling illness.” Losing balance and becoming convulsive, they die quickly. As they lie dying, blood begins to trickle from their ears. The Shadow makes progress on solving the crime, but our mastermind also imitates the Shadow. The Shadow is thus wanted for murder!

The Seven Deadly Arts was published 10/1/1946

This story is by the third and last Maxwell Grant, Bruce Elliot. Most of Elliot’s Shadow stories were sub-par when compared to Gibson and Tinsley. This may be the best of the worst.

Many Shadow stories are a tad eerie, but this one touches bases heretofore left unexplored. A voodoo priestess chants over packages brought by people in garish carnival masks. An old man is delivered a voodoo doll of himself pierced with two pins. The belief that this is a true threat causes him to have a possible heart attack.

The Shadow seems like a de-fanged serpent in this story, having little of his usual ability. The final reveal is fair, but I don’t think the build-up really led in that direction.

So, what we have here are two terrific Shadow stories by Gibson and Tinsley. Add to that the story by Elliot that was likely his best, and the book gets 5 stars.

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 16, 2019

The Shadow Double Novels #101 by Maxwell Grant

Two novel-length stories from the Shadow Magazine…

The Shadow was a superhero that starred in both pulp magazines and Old Time Radio. The magazines were extremely popular, and the Shadow began to star as the host of a radio show. Later, the Shadow Radio Show would begin with stars like Orson Wells and Margot Stevenson.

There was a marked difference between the magazine Shadow and the radio Shadow. On the radio, the Shadow used “hypnotism to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him.” The Shadow was Lamont Cranston, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, Margo Lane.

The Magazine Shadow was much more mysterious. He used darkness as his cover and could almost vanish due to his skill and stealth. He sometimes appeared as Lamont Cranston, but he was not Lamont Cranston. The real Cranston and the Shadow had an arrangement. Margo never appeared in the magazine until 1941, when she was introduced and sometimes was with Lamont Cranston and sometimes with the Shadow’s agent Harry Vincent.

The majority of the stories were written by Walter Gibson, under the house name “Maxwell Grant.” The second novel in this book was written by the “other Maxwell Grant” Theodore Tinsley.

Gangdom’s Doom was originally published in December 1931.

This was the fifth adventure of the Shadow. The Shadow has agents who work for him, gathering information, driving him around, fighting alongside him, etc. Claude Fellows was the Shadow’s point man in the field. He went to Chicago on businesw declares war on the Chicago underworld for the death of Fellows.

It really is a wonderful adventure. The crime boss in s for the Shadow and was promptly murdered. The Shadothe story was probably based on Al Capone. There is a lot of shifting between various pov’s, but the final reveal straightens it all out smoothly!

The Golden Grotto was originally published in May 1933.

An inbound ship is attacked by pirates! The story soon begins to circle around several men. There’s Professor Kirby Shelton, a lecturer who is enthusiastic about the idea of a utopia he hopes to set up. There’s Malbray Woodruff, a famous artist. Lastly, there is a retired banker with an ugly countenance who goes by the name Elbert Cordes. They all reside at East Point, and one of them could be the big guy over the Golden Grotto…

This story has an endless number of false trails along the way to the amazing climax! Tinsley usually had a bit racier story and a femme fatale. This story is no exception!

I give the book five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 16, 2019

The Shadow Double Novels #104 by Maxwell Grant

Two novel-length stories from the Shadow Magazine…

The Shadow was a superhero that starred in both pulp magazines and Old Time Radio. The magazines were extremely popular, and the Shadow began to star as the host of a radio show. Later, the Shadow Radio Show would begin with stars like Orson Wells and Margot Stevenson.

There was a marked difference between the magazine Shadow and the radio Shadow. On the radio, the Shadow used “hypnotism to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him.” The Shadow was Lamont Cranston, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, Margo Lane.

The Magazine Shadow was much more mysterious. He used darkness as his cover and could almost vanish due to his skill and stealth. He sometimes appeared as Lamont Cranston, but he was not Lamont Cranston. The real Cranston and the Shadow had an arrangement. Margo never appeared in the magazine until 1941, when she was introduced and sometimes was with Lamont Cranston and sometimes with the Shadow’s agent Harry Vincent.

The majority of the stories were written by Walter Gibson, under the house name “Maxwell Grant.” The first novel in this book was written by the “other Maxwell Grant” Theodore Tinsley.

Double Death was originally published in December 1938.

A man arranges for dead men to be murdered—again!

As usual with Theodore Tinsley, the story goes beyond the street-level crime the Shadow usually tackles. Doctor Jasper Logan has an invention, a black ray device that supposedly will melt steel. Turned on human beings, the ray reduces them to a small pile of blue ash! Tinsley’s usual femme fatale appears as a series of beautiful ladies, as she is a master of disguise…

The story runs smoothly, and the characters are well rounded. The ending could perhaps be better, but the character interaction makes up for that. This one is probably a four-star story…

The Robot Master was originally published in May 1943.

What we have here is dueling inventors, each with a working robot. These are only mechanical, no AI required. The argument is which man’s brainchild can be best adapted to serve multiple tasks. An even better question is what powers the robots known as Thronzo and Superlo!

I really liked this one! The thought of the earth shaking as two metal behemoths clashing in a fight paints an image not soon forgotten! This one is a definite five-star story.

There is an added short story, The Case of the Mechanical Monster by Max Ehrlich, broadcast as a radio play January 17, 1943, and a period comic strip Iron Munro, the Astounding Man by T Sturgeon and Jack Farr.

I give the book five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

This book is currently unavailable.

 

May. 16, 2019

The Shadow Double Novels #103 by Maxwell Grant

Two novel-length stories from the Shadow Magazine…

The Shadow was a superhero that starred in both pulp magazines and Old Time Radio. The magazines were extremely popular, and the Shadow began to star as the host of a radio show. Later, the Shadow Radio Show would begin with stars like Orson Wells and Margot Stevenson.

There was a marked difference between the magazine Shadow and the radio Shadow. On the radio, the Shadow used “hypnotism to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him.” The Shadow was Lamont Cranston, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, Margo Lane.

The Magazine Shadow was much more mysterious. He used darkness as his cover and could almost vanish due to his skill and stealth. He sometimes appeared as Lamont Cranston, but he was not Lamont Cranston. The real Cranston and the Shadow had an arrangement. Margo never appeared in the magazine until 1941, when she was introduced and sometimes was with Lamont Cranston and sometimes with the Shadow’s agent Harry Vincent.

The majority of the stories were written by Walter Gibson, under the house name “Maxwell Grant.” Gibson wrote both stories presented here.

The Romanoff Jewels was originally published in December 1932.

Fredrick Froman has plans to seize the crown jewels of the Romanoff’s, once he discovers where they are being held. Getting that information requires torturing a man, but Froman is relentless. Meanwhile, Ivan Motkin, charged with the guarding of this treasure, takes steps to ensure Froman doesn’t get his hands on it. The twist in this one is priceless!

Several times in the Shadow stories there is a mention that the Shadow used to work for the Tsar. He carries identity as an agent of the Russian throne. This sets him at odds with the Russian government and the characters in this story…

Crime Under Cover was originally published in June 1941.

Vic Marquette is in Washington trying to prevent Professor Urlich Ardlan’s latest invention from falling into the hands of foreign agents. Professor Arlan’s invention is called “the neutralizer,” a device that can detect any poisonous gas and deliver the exact chemicals to render it harmless. The bad guys here use Esperanto as a language to keep their plans secret.

Esperanto was used in other Shadow Magazine stories. The language was invented by Doctor LL Zamenhof as an international language. It was thought that it would become common usage, but not so much…

I give the book five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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