Aug. 17, 2018

Mysteries set in New Orleans and Western City!

The Shadow #99: The Mardi Gras Mystery and City of Fear 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.

The Shadow is a force of one. Costumed in cape and hat, laughing and firing well-aimed .45’s, his name has been screamed by dying gangsters. Every crook wants to make a name for themselves by eliminating the Shadow. Few ever survive the first encounter.

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 Mardi Gras Mystery was published 9/1/1935

While the Shadow’s cape and hat both hide his real identity and proclaim him as the foe of crimedom, the Mardi Gras masquerade is a place he can appear openly. The Shadow is a flash of darkness within darkness when on the prowl, moving from one low-lit spot to another unseen. At a masquerade, he is just another reveler, if a brave one for using a guise that crooks usually fire at on sight!

A box is passed from a girl in a ballet costume to a young man dressed as a French colonial gentleman, wig, hat and all. She tells Andrew Blouchet that the box is his and she was told to deliver it. She also presents a silver key. Reaching his art studio, Blouchet finds the box is filled with large bills, some even in the 500 and 1,000 range! Confiding in a wealthy friend named Carl Randon, he is advised to take claim of the money and spend it as he pleases.

Spending some of the money brings Blouchet under the scrutiny of several unsavory characters. They have been told to watch for certain serial numbers by their sneaky employer. The money is declared fake by one of the snoops when Blochet spends several 50 dollar bills, only to then declare them fine.

The Shadow is in New Orleans after Pierre Trebon, international swindler. The Shadow has trailed the man from New York. All the treads of this mystery weave a wild story that ends with a man I wouldn’t have really thought guilty…

City of Fear was published 10/15/1940

This story is written by Theodore Tinsley, the second Maxwell Grant. Tinsley’s stories tended to be a bit darker than Walter Gibson’s and often had femme fatales. In the oddly named Western City, crimes are being committed by persons easily identifiable. But they cannot be guilty, due to strong alibis. The mastermind shows a flair for disguise that would rival the Shadow!

Agents of the Shadow are well aware of various persons that are the Shadow in disguise, such as Lamont Cranston. Now there is a criminal loose that can disguise himself so well that if he should learn the Shadow’s secrets, he can even pose as the Shadow himself! And Cranston could be the next person accused of a crime!

Foes who could fight the Shadow on his own terms were few and far between.  Great! 5 stars!

Quoth the Raven…