Continuing the Girasol reprints, two novels, two authors!
The Spider Double Novels #4 Dragon Lord of the Underworld and Satan’s Switchboard by Grant Stockbridge
The Spider is Richard Wentworth, a wealthy criminologist. Backed up by his manservant Ram Singh, his old war pal Jackson, and his fiancé Nita van Slone, Wentworth takes on crime at the street level.
The Spider has no scruples about killing. The criminals who cross the Spider die and their foreheads are marked with a scarlet spider.
The Spider is wanted by the police, and his friend Commissioner Kirkpatrick suspects Wentworth. Hardly surprising, as everyone seems to know the Spider’s secret.
Proving it is another thing altogether…
Dragon Lord of the Underworld is the 22nd published novel, originally published in July 1945. The author is the great Norvell Page.
This novel is one of the “yellow peril” stories common in the pulps. There was a decided prejudice against Orientals, which is why Chinatown exist in the cities. Then also, the United States had recently gone to war with Japan. It hasn’t aged well.
The criminal lord is named Ssu Hsi Tze, roughly “Emperor of Vermin” (or so we are told.) He plans to unite all criminals in an effort to loot cities and fund a coup in his own country. The shadow of Fu Manchu looms over the story, as the Spider deals with underground lairs laced with death traps, various venomous creatures, and the infamous “hatchet men.”
Professor Brownlee is killed in this story trying to find the secrets of a powder the Chinese use to keep themselves safe from their own poisonous critters. Warnings appear in flaming blue letters on the side of the Empire State building! It isn’t a bad story, other than the “yellow peril” business…
Satan’s Switchboard is the 51st published novel originally published in December 1937. The author is Wayne Rodgers
Across the city men and women die with the lower half of their faces destroyed by a powerful acid. The Silencer makes demands accompanied by a crude drawing of someone with a hand over their mouth. People commit suicide, their secrets exposed by the Silencer’s minions. Someone is tapping phones, but where?
Strangely garbed men lurk in the tunnels under the streets, working in pitch darkness. No secret is safe. To the Silencer, life is cheap, and his acid-soaked glove burns the life from his victims.
It is a delightful story, different from Page’s “blood and guts” style.
I give both stories and the book as a whole four stars.
Quote the Raven…