May. 29, 2019

Three masterminds known by a single iitial

Shadow Double Novels #94 by Maxwell Grant

Two more novel-length stories by Walter Gibson writing as “Maxwell Grant”

I am going to assume that most people likely to read this are fans of the Shadow. But just in case, the Shadow was a radio and pulp magazine hero, known as “The Master of Darkness.”

The radio Shadow was named as Lamont Cranston, but the Shadow of the pulps used the real Lamont Cranston’s identity when the globe-trotting Cranston was not in New York. It is only one of many disguises the man known as the Shadow uses.

The Shadow fights crime at street level, backed up by a small band of agents. If the crime lords plot wickedness, the Shadow knows!

Now, on to the stories:

Possible spoilers, but I’ll be careful.   

Q was originally published on June 15, 1940.

A signal goes out, sometimes over the radio, sometimes merely tapped on walls. Dash Dash-dot Dash is the Morse code insignia of Q, a master crook determined to rule—by explosion if necessary! Gangsters who fail to line up simply vanish in a burst of TNT.

Note: The reader is told if you slow Dash Dash-Dot Dash down, it means TNT. That is so in international Morse code.

Having his call signal able to rapidly change to TNT, Q stands ready at any time to call for criminals to be blasted to kingdom come. And if the cops or the Shadow interferes, Q has no qualms about blowing them up as well!

Formula for Crime was originally published on March 15, 1942.

The police have a new ally in Professor Achilles Troy. The brilliant mathematician thinks of crime in terms of algebraic formulas. By charting multiple variables, Troy is able to predict crime, to a certain degree.

Meanwhile, a hidden crime lord known only as X has formulas of his own. Crimes are planned down to minute detail, and sometimes criminals are used and then disposed of by a master chess player of lawlessness!

Two formulas exist—one to commit evil, one to solve a crime. Shadow has ideas of his own because what men keep secret, the Shadow knows!

A short story printed in the magazine March 1931, “Lightning Strikes Twice” is also included. Starring the Whisperer, another man called X formulates crime.

The book winds up with a comic strip, Iron Munroe, from Shadow Comics vol 1, number 2.

I loved the two Shadow stories, but not the Whisperer story. The comic strip is ok, perhaps a bit dated. It is neat that all three stories deal with a master crook known only by a single letter! I give the book four stars.

Quoth the Raven…

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