Jun. 14, 2019

Two tales of the Master of Darkness!

The Shadow Double Novels #1 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 remarkable 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 Golden Vulture was originally published 7/15/38.

This is issue 154 of the Shadow Magazine. The story takes place in Miami, Florida. The Golden Vulture is a master of extortion, heading a gang that is contacted through vulture statue that sends and receive radio waves. The members of the gang are called “feathers” and are contacted by number.

Wealthy men are told to pay various amounts upon pain of death! Those who refuse end up dying, all of their assets liquidated. Even worse the deaths appear to be suicides…

This story has the distinction of being the only Shadow novel written by Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage. According to many online sources, the story was at least partially rewritten by Walter Gibson prior to publication.

Crime, Insured was originally published on July 1, 1937.

This is issue 129 of the Shadow Magazine. Imagine planning a crime and then insuring it against failure! For a percentage of the take, the Solidary Insurance Company insure against the crime going wrong. Should the job go south, the insurance company will pay out the value of the lost goods.

The Shadow is not often traced, but in this story, his sanctum is discovered and invaded! Three of the Shadow’s agents are identified and captured! Almost all of the Shadow’s other agent appear in this story, as the Shadow battles against an intelligent, resourceful foe!

Let me explain my one-star ding, leaving this book as a four out of five. This is the first book in these reprints. Yet it doesn’t start with The Living Shadow, the first pulp story of the magazine. So any new reader has no foundation in the ways of the Shadow, who exactly the agents are, and the secrets behind the Shadow’s identity. If the only contact they have had is the exciting Shadow OTR show, they are going to wonder why the Shadow isn’t invisible, doesn’t cloud minds, and uses .45’s to blow crooks away. I think this was a mistake. There is a short intro by Anthony Tollin but it doesn’t compare with the knowledge that reading that first novel would impart. Just saying…

Excellent stories deserve excellent ratings. I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy it Here from The Vintage Library>