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  Shadow Volume 8 [Pulp Reprint] #5016



 
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Description
 
The Shadow
Volume 8

Pulp fiction's legendary Knight of Darkness returns in two of his most engrossing adventures. Two legendary crime fighting agencies join forces when The Shadow teams with England's legendary Scotland Yard to investigate "The London Crimes" and the master criminal known as The Harvester. Then, The Shadow journeys to a strange "Castle of Doom", where murder lurks behind its battlements and mystery and intrigue abound in a thrilling tale of lost treasure, secret underground passages, and ghostly apparitions. In honor of The Shadow's first British adventure, popular culture historian Anthony Tollin chronicles the 1930s and 1950s English pulp reprints and the 1940s Australian Shadow radio series. This classic pulp reprint also showcases George Rozen's dazzling pulp covers and all the original interior art by acclaimed illustrator Tom Lovell.
Special Feature:
John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #8
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission

"The London Crimes" was originally published in the September 15, 1935 issue of The Shadow Magazine. The Shadow has traveled to England to assist his old friend Inspector Erik Delka of Scotland Yard. He seeks a master criminal and expert at disguise known as The Harvester.

The Harvester has been thwarting London police for months. He deals in large-scale swindles and outright theft. He worms his way into a situation that allows for huge profit, by using a variety of disguises. For example, the distinguished and trusted Sir James Carliff cashed a bank draft for eight thousand pounds - forty thousand dollars. But after he left the bank, it was discovered that he was an impostor; The Harvester had struck.

Then there was a loan to be given Monsieur Pierre Garthou, the head of a French mining syndicate. Immediately after the funds were transferred, a fraud was suspected. But when Garthou was stopped by a representative of the banking house, Garthou produced a revolver and riddled him with bullets. It wasn't Garthou after all; it was The Harvester in disguise again.

The steamship Baroda was sunk. An explosion occurred on board, before the vessel had passed the Scilly Islands. All on board were lost. The owner, Lemuel Brodder appeared to collect his insurance. But... you guessed it. Once again, The Harvester was appearing in disguise.

So The Shadow has come to London to unmask The Harvester. Harry Vincent, his long-time agent, has also arrived in London to assist his master. With the assistance of Vincent and a bit of help from The Yard itself, The Shadow tracks down the suspects and eliminates them one-by-one. Until finally, there is the ultimate showdown in the drawing room of an old country estate. All the suspects are there. And one of them is The Harvester. Whew, what a story!

A few points of interest. At this time, the English pound was apparently worth ten dollars. The Harvester is after half a million pounds in loot, which the story tells us is close to five million dollars in American money. Wow, how times have changed! Today, the English pound is worth about $1.42.

The Shadow isn't known for his gadgets. When you think of gadgets, you usually think of Doc Savage. But The Shadow had a few of his own. This story features a special roller for a typewriter. Inside the hollow roller is unique ribbon and coil of paper that keeps a record of what has been typed upon that typewriter. In this story, Harry Vincent replaces the roller on a suspect's typewriter with this special roller of The Shadow's recent invention. Later he retrieves it, and is able to read what the suspect has typed. I don't think I've seen this one mentioned before.

The Shadow's power over animals is again demonstrated in this story. Two fierce watchdogs are guarding the gangsters' hideout. As The Shadow skulks closer, they detect him and attack. He makes a hissing noise that stops them short. After a few moments, they are sitting docile creatures, obeying his every command. Wow, how does he do that?

The Shadow is also a master of languages. In various stories through the series, The Shadow has demonstrated the ability to speak Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Afghan, French, German, Russian, Spanish Gypsy, and Esperanto. In this story, he shows his ability to understand Hindustani. Pretty impressive...

All in all, this is one of the best of the series. It's a story that just keeps getting better and better.
 


"Castle of Doom" was originally published in the January 15, 1936 issue of The Shadow Magazine. Now we're talking! To me, this is what The Shadow is all about. Stealthily stalking through the night, he uncovers strange plottings in an old English castle. Secret passages, ghostly visitations, hidden treasure. Only The Shadow can unravel the secrets of the Castle of Doom!

The Shadow travels to London, England. Tales of crime have crossed the seas to Manhattan, where The Shadow hears of the swift, mysterious crime wave. The theft of gold, jewels, jade, tapestries and much more. Valuables worth a million and a half dollars. Along with the thefts, also murder; two and counting. So, disguised as Lamont Cranston, The Shadow makes a prompt trip to the British capital. Accompanying him is Harry Vincent his most trusted agent.

On a foggy London street, we meet Geoffrey Chiswold, owner of Chiswold Castle. Owner until recently, that is. He has just sold the castle to Barton Modbury, a wealthy diamond king from South Africa. And now young Geoffrey plans to travel to Canada. But it is not to be.

Trailing Chiswold through the fog is Harry Vincent. But Harry loses track of Geoffrey Chiswold when he accidentally picks up the wrong trail -- the trail of Geoffrey's cousin just home from India, Nigel Chiswold. The two look enough alike to be twins, so it's no surprise that Harry is fooled. Unfortunately, that leaves Geoffrey Chiswold unprotected. And in the fog, awaits death. Yes, Geoffrey Chiswold meets a swift and violent death, at the hands of mysterious lurkers in the fog.

Inspector Eric Delka of Scotland Yard investigates the gristly murder. His good friend Lamont Cranston is visiting, and accompanies him to the small town of Yarwick, outside of which Chiswold Castle lies. The two are there to interview those who knew Geoffrey Chiswold, to determine if his death was premeditated by some unknown enemies, or if it was a misfortune of chance -- being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At Chiswold Castle they meet the new owner, Barton Modbury, and his weekend guests. There is Sir Rodney Ralthorn, wealthy from the beet-sugar industry. His beautiful young daughter, Gwendolyn Ralthorn, is also a guest at Chiswold Castle. Lord Cedric Lorthing, a wealthy Londoner, is her fiancÚ. The last of the guests is a Spaniard, Francisco Lodera, whose family held high rating during the days of the Spanish monarchy. All of these guests knew the recently deceased ex-owner Geoffrey Chiswold. All might help provide clues for Scotland Yard.

But one who they don't meet is Nigel Chiswold, the cousin of Geoffrey who has recently returned from a five-year stay in India. Nigel secretly makes his way to the castle along with his giant servant, the faithful Afghan, Amakar. Nigel doesn't want his presence known, so sneaks into the castle using secret passages that only he knows. He hides himself in a secret chamber known as the spy room, located at the top of a spiral staircase in the abandoned turret of the castle.

And with this atmospheric setting, the strange tale gradually unwinds. Set against a backdrop of a three-hundred-year-old castle sitting high on a cliff overlooking the raging ocean on the rural English coast, The Shadow will have to use all his abilities to determine who killed Geoffrey Chiswold, and why. It's an amazingly intricate story that's a real joy to read.

This is The Shadow as he is meant to be read about. He is at his full power, with stealth abilities bordering on invisibility. He spends nearly the entire story in the background, skulking about in the dark of night. He appears only occasionally in disguise; he prefers his black cloak and slouch hat. He only rarely needs the assistance of his agent, Harry Vincent. And his mastery of languages now includes the Afghan language, as well as so many others.

We see The Shadow with his portable make-up kit, that small flat box which he uses to manipulate his wax-like features. He only appears briefly as Lamont Cranston. And similarly makes brief appearances as a rustic farmer in one scene, and as Professor Roderick Danglar, of Cambridge, in two others. No one sees any similarity between the three characters, so effective is his skill at disguise.

But it's as his black-garbed true self that he spends most of his time, here. As he slides across the wide green lawns at midnight, he appears as a flickering shadow cast by the fringe of trees surrounding the estate. When he climbs the outside castle walls, using the heavy ivy vines to noiselessly ascend, no one sees him.

It's interesting to note that when this story was written, author Walter Gibson indicated that the stolen valuables were worth three hundred thousand pounds in English currency, or a million and a half dollars in American currency. The exchange rate, for those of you unwilling to do the math, was five dollars for each pound. That's changed over the years. At the time this review is being written (2005), the current exchange rate is $1.82 for each pound. How times change...

This is one Shadow pulp mystery that I can recommend unconditionally. Mystery and intrigue abound in this atmospheric adventure. Set among ancient underground passages, hidden rooms, secret chambers, spiral staircases, spy rooms and mysterious vaults filled with flapping bats, this story weaves a tale of strange murder! It all makes for a story not to be missed!
 


John Olsen was first introduced to The Shadow in the early 1960's, tuning in to rebroadcasts of his adventures on KEX radio in Portland, Oregon. Several years later, John was drawn to a hardback book entitled "The Weird Adventures of The Shadow," containing three Shadow novels reprinted from the old pulp magazines. The pulp Shadow was a far different character from the beloved radio version, but the stories drew him in and opened his eyes to a richer version of the hero. Today, John is retired in Sherwood, Oregon. He has read all 325 of the old Shadow pulp mysteries and enjoys them so much that, as of this writing, he is well over half way through reading them all again for a second time.


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