May. 12, 2019

Three novel-length stories from the Shadow Magazine…

The Shadow Double Novels #140 by Maxwell Grant

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.” All the stories in this volume were Witten by Gibson.

Murder Lake was originally published in June 1943.

The Redland Iron Mine wanted to resume mining, but the old mine is now Iron Lake. There is a fierce battle between the miners and the people who want to keep the lake, which mysteriously produces excellent fishing…

I liked this one. The reasons behind the antipathy towards draining the lake might be a tad easy to guess, but the final reveal of the villain is handled very well.

Syndicate of Death was originally published in February 1944.

An inventor named Lucien Bartlett creates a machine that works like an x-ray. Using this device, it is possible to see through walls and even steel vaults. If this machine works, men of crime see the potential for robbery…

I liked this story as well. Use of x-rays in medical emergencies was commonplace, so using it to see through walls wasn’t much of a stretch. The reveal of the master planner is held back until the last minute. Very nice!

The Mask of Mephisto was originally published in July 1945.

Lamont and Margo are in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The Shadow is looking for a gang who are running the illegal Louisiana Lottery. A man in a scarlet devil costume haunts the parades and various gatherings. He kills two persons, and there may be more.

I loved this story from the first time I read it years ago! The contrast between the brilliant red of the devil costume and the ebony robes of the Shadow makes for a terrific mental picture. The pace is fast, almost frantic at times. The final reveal is riveting.

All three stories get five stars from me!

Quoth the Raven…