John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #9
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with
"Lingo" was published in the April 1, 1935 issue of The Shadow Magazine. So just who is
this Lingo of the story's title? He's Lingo Queed, an opportunist who is poised
to take over the reins of the underworld criminal empire. He is called "Lingo"
because of his ability to handle various languages. Lingo can speak Greek,
Italian and Chinese. And probably others that aren't mentioned.
Currently, the head of all gangdom is Rook Hollister. But the underworld is in
turmoil. Lately, his every efforts have been thwarted by forces of the law.
Planned crimes are being broken up in the act; henchmen are either captured or
killed by the police. And this continual failure of leadership has Rook
Hollister's lieutenants preparing for a coup. Yes, Rook's on the way out. He's
scheduled for "the bump." (Meaning, they are going to bump him off.)
All of Rook Hollister's chieftains meet in secret at Kow Doy's shop "The Silver
Dragon" in Chinatown. They plan an overthrow of their current leadership. Rook
Hollister must die! But unbeknownst to the gangleaders, Rook has a spy in their
midst. A spy who reports back to Rook, and warns him of the impending danger.
Rook Hollister, kingpin of the underworld, decides to escape the wrath of his
underlings by faking his own death. He hires an unknown actor named Donald
Manthell who bears a striking resemblance to him. Then he sets up Manthell to be
killed in his stead. And sure enough, Manthell dies from a thug's bullet. And
Rook Hollister goes into hiding, waiting until the time is ripe to retake his
Sliding into place as the new boss of the underworld is Lingo Queed. He claims
credit for the killing of Rook Hollister, and takes over the reins of
leadership. A new wave of crime is planned. It will take The Shadow to thwart
those plans! It will take The Shadow to defeat Lingo Queed. And it will take The
Shadow to reveal the hiding place of Rook Hollister and bring him to final
The Shadow makes effective use of all of his aides in this story. Appearing are
Clyde Burke, enterprising reporter on the staff of the Classic, Harry Vincent,
the clean-cut chap who has long served The Shadow, Moe Shrevnitz, shrewd-faced
cab driver whose taxi is actually owned by The Shadow, Cliff Marsland, alleged
member of the underworld who is actually in The Shadow's employ, Hawkeye, the
hunchy little trailer, Jericho, one of The Shadow's lesser agents who gets to
play bodyguard for Lingo Queed, Burbank, vital communications man for The Shadow
and Rutledge Mann, investment broker and contact man for The Shadow's
organization. Whew; the gang's all here!
Representing the forces of law and order are acting inspector Joe Cardona and
Deputy Police Commissioner Wainwright Barth. Previous commissioner Ralph Weston
is still on leave, taking a vacation in Garauca, South America. He went there in
the Sept. 15, 1934 story "The Garaucan Swindle," to become acting head of the
national police, helping clean up the country. He'll return to New York in the
story "The Dark Death" which would be published in Feb. 15, 1936.
In the meantime, Wainwright Barth is currently acting commissioner. We're told
that Barth is a past police commissioner, although in "The Garaucan Swindle" we
were told he was a previous banker. Maybe he was both? Either way, there is
definite tension between Joe Cardona and Wainwright Barth. Their dislike for
each other is obvious, here, and it gives the story a bit more edge.
The Shadow's famous girasol ring, the purplish, translucent gem that glows from
The Shadow's third finger, appears in this story. In this story, it is worn only
by The Shadow and is used as a means of identification. Agents seeing this ring
secretly revealed on his finger, know that regardless of his disguise that this
is their master. In later years, the ring was worn openly when disguised as
Lamont Cranston (who, by the way, makes no appearance, here).
Once again, as is typical of many pulp stories of the 1930's, racial stereotypes
are rampant. Jericho, one of The Shadow's agents, speaks enough "de's, dat's and
yassah's" to make you cringe. And Koy Dow's speech isn't that much better, laced
with "No shootee gunee - gunee bringee cops!" Please consider this a historical
document that is reproduced accurately, and don't blame me!
It's a real classic and a thrilling Shadow mystery novel.
"Partners of Peril" was originally published in the November 1, 1936 issue of The Shadow Magazine. A
new and deadly poison gas has been invented for the United States chemical
warfare service. And the ex-partners in the company producing the gas have now
become "Partners of Peril." One by one, they are being murdered. And only The
Shadow can determine why.
Reed Harrington was the first man to die. And he knew in advance that his life
was in peril. He had been receiving threats for a fortnight. He changed his
residence three times, but the threats followed him to his new abodes. Finally,
in desperation, he turns to New York Police Commissioner Ralph Weston. The
vicious voice over the phone has promised he will die before midnight.
Commissioner Weston is not too concerned, but promises to send Detective Joe
Cardona to Harrington's apartment to guard him through the night. But just as
predicted, death strikes before midnight. Right in front of Cardona, Harrington
falls dead while taking a phone call. The time, two minutes before midnight.
How was Reed Harrington killed? There's no clue. Who will be next? Arnold Kling
will be the next victim. He rushes into the Harrington crime scene and claims
that he, too, has been receiving death threats. He and Harrington were business
partners, and now death promises to strike again this very same night. And
strike again, it does.
Arnold Kling holes up in his large home in Tuckahoe. He is guarded by the
police. But all the police presence is futile. Arnold Kling dies, a victim of a
sinister death trap that sends thousands of volts of electricity coursing
through his body. As promised by the hidden murder master, death has struck
The Shadow races to find others who were previously partners in a chemical
plant, in attempt to thwart further deaths. Reed Harrington, Arnold Kling, Simon
Todd, Thomas Porter and his son Ray Porter had all been partners in the Millcote
Chemical Corporation, a huge industrial plant in lower New Jersey. Even though
Simon Todd is the sole owner of the chemical plant, now, this is the one thing
that ties the strange deaths together. And it's The Shadow's job to reveal the
source of the peril to those remaining alive.
What's behind it all? Why, a deadly new poison gas, that's what! The nation that
owns this secret will be impregnable in the next war. And in 1936, World War II
was looming ominously on the horizon. So the United States had good reason to
want to keep that gas a secret. There are some who would steal the formula for a
foreign nation. Are they responsible for the deaths? There are others who would
kill to gain control of the wealth generated by this government contract.
Perhaps one of them is the strange and sinister dealer in death. It will take
all the cunning of The Shadow to discover the evil power behind the conspiracy
The Shadow gets to don a few disguises in this story. He appears as Lamont
Cranston, of course. And he glides invisibly through the night in his outfit of
black. But he also appears at the chemical plant in two other disguises. He
appears in the character of a harmless old workman, while surveying the plant.
And later, is a tall young workman dressed in overalls.
Assisting The Shadow here is his trusty contact man Burbank, reporter Clyde
Burke and long-time agent Harry Vincent. Burke's job is finished before the
story is half over and we see no more of him, and Burbank gets his usual brief
appearances. But Harry Vincent plays a fairly large role in the story.
Harry Vincent assists The Shadow in watching some of the ex-partners and
guarding them from harm. In the line of duty, poor Harry really gets beat around
in this story. He's captured and strapped to a table connected to a strange
electrical mechanism. It's a truth machine, complete with wires, dials,
electrodes and glowing lights. And before he knows it, Harry is blabbing all he
knows. Including the name of his master!
Harry is rescued by The Shadow in a thrilling gun battle in the underground
laboratory. But later, poor Harry is captured once again. This time, he's thrown
into a deep pit and the villain's intention is to blow him to smithereens in an
explosion that will rock the countryside. Yes, Harry Vincent really gets bounced
around in this story. Oh, and shot through the left wrist, as well! He really
earned his paycheck this time around.
Other familiar characters in this Shadow novel are Commissioner Ralph Weston and
Detective Joe Cardona. Weston appears only at the beginning, and by the end of
chapter four, he's no longer involved in the plot. Cardona, on the other hand,
gets to assist The Shadow throughout the entire story, right up to the very end.
This Shadow pulp novel wasn't written by Walter Gibson. It was written by
Theodore Tinsley, who was brought in by the publishers to help assist in the
writing chores. The reading public would be none the wiser, since the pen name
of Maxwell Grant was still used on all the stories, regardless of the actual
author. Tinsley would go on to pen a total of twenty seven Shadow novels until
his final one "The Golden Doom" in 1943.
The general reading audience for The Shadow magazine probably never realized
that a different author was at work. Theodore Tinsley tried to follow in the
same style as Walter Gibson. He attempted to be faithful to the situations and
characters created by Gibson. And by and large, he was quite successful in his
attempt. There were a few signs that a different author was at work, but they
were subtle. To most readers, it was a Shadow story that was just a little more
"pulpy" than the rest.
Theodore Tinsley got a few things wrong in this novel, but luckily they weren't
things that stood out starkly. In one scene, he gives Lamont Cranston a pleasant
smile. Gibson would have put a "slight smile on his masklike countenance." In
another scene, Tinsley has The Shadow with a "shrouded head." This harkens back
to the very early days of the magazine, when The Shadow was drawn wearing a cowl
rather than a slouch hat. Later, The Shadow pulls out a ring of skeleton keys.
Gibson had abandoned using skeleton keys years earlier, preferring to have The
Shadow use a blackened metal lock pick. These examples, as you can see, are
minor. Most readers probably passed over them without notice.
If readers noticed any difference, they might have noticed that the story was
bit more lurid than the others they had read. That was one of the telltale marks
of Tinsley's work on The Shadow. Learned from his days writing for Black Mask,
Tinsley gave his Shadow stories a little edge that Gibson's lacked.
Tinsley had a flair for unusual deaths. While guns and knives were in evidence
aplenty, in this story Tinsley also introduced deaths by electrocution, by
poison gas and by massive explosion. And let's not forget being dissolved alive
in a vat of acid. A little something for everybody to keep the action going.
Tinsley also had an affinity for tunnels, caverns and underground lairs. We find
a perfectly equipped chemical laboratory built in the solid earth under a
private garage. And remember the deep pit that Harry Vincent is thrown into.
Whenever you read a Tinsley story, you can expect underground action.
Tinsley brought sex into The Shadow novels. There was no sign of sex in Gibson's
Shadow stories. Tinsley loved to titillate. Typical is this exchange from our
story: "Do you hand it over, baby - or do I rip your clothes off and find it
myself?" Of course, it went no further than that. But Walter Gibson wouldn't
even have gone that far.
Tinsley emphasized, a bit more, the violence in his Shadow tales. Whereas in
Gibson's stories, a thug might take a bullet and slump to the floor, in
Tinsley's descriptions, blood would gush. In "Partners of Peril" we get
descriptions like these: "A bullet from Dorgan ripped through his neck and
severed the jugular vein. Blood poured from the wound." The additional gore
wasn't blatant, in a Tinsley novel, but it was noticeable.
Tinsley's version of The Shadow was a bit more powerful and infallible. When he
shot his revolvers, he never missed. "The Shadow had moved out of a dark corner
alcove and was gliding toward them with guns that never missed when his gloved
fingers pressed the triggers." Gibson's Shadow might miss, but Tinsley's, only
At the same time, Tinsley's version of The Shadow got injured more. Gibson's
Shadow rarely received minor injuries. If he was injured in a story, it was a
serious injury. Gibson didn't give The Shadow many minor wounds. Tinsley,
however, routinely had his Shadow receive various small injuries. In this story:
"A knife slashed down the flesh of his forearm." And later: "Bullets whistled
past him, pierced his loose cloak in a dozen places. He felt a sharp pain in his
shoulder." And during the catastrophic explosion, "Something smaller struck his
extended body and he felt the warm flow of his blood." In Tinsley's stories, The
Shadow rarely ended an adventure without several non-life-threatening wounds.
Tinsley liked to inject a little torture into his stories. And he wasn't adverse
to using it on women and men alike. Gibson, by comparison, rarely used torture
on men, and never on women. This Shadow novel, being Tinsley's first, has only
one vague reference to torture. "The Shadow had means of making gunmen talk,
even a vicious killer like Dorgan." In later stories, Tinsley would go into more
graphic detail when it came to torture. And no one was spared.
Theodore Tinsley's stories of The Shadow thrilled readers, who were not even
aware that they were reading stories by a different author. All they knew was
that they were reading a rip-roaring pulp adventure of their favorite hero. It
was a bit edgier and more lurid than the usual Shadow fare, but the action
carried readers along and they would rarely stop to examine the writing style.
It was very similar to Gibsonís, just a little "pulpier."
Sometimes when Tinsley wrote a story, in an effort to make the situations
especially unique, dangerous and exciting, he would throw in little things that
he forgot to wrap up at story's end. In one scene of this story, he has two
thugs breaking into Reed Harrington's wall safe. They inexplicably know the
combination, which makes readers wonder what secret contacts these two men have
that gave them this knowledge. But we never find out. In the end, when Tinsley
explains everything for the reader, he overlooks their knowledge of the safe
combination. Loose ends like these are usually minor, but they can be found in
most Tinsley stories. Gibson, generally kept tighter reins on his plots, and
nearly always tied up the little loose ends.
Sometime, parts of Tinsley's plots don't make sense. At the time you read them,
they sound cool. And you assume they'll be explained later. But they aren't. Of
course, so much action has taken place that you have usually forgotten about
them. In this story, for example, both Reed Harrington and Arnold Kling are
repeatedly warned in advance that they are going to die. But when all is
explained at the end, we realize that it served no purpose. There was no reason
to warn the men in advance. Logically, the men should have been killed without
any warning. It would have promoted the evil genius's plans more efficiently.
But logic often takes a back seat in Tinsley's Shadow stories.
There is a wonderful death trap in this story that Tinsley deals with
illogically, as well. A powerful bomb is rigged to explode when triggered by an
electric eye. When light falls on a mechanism attached to the door jam,
everything will go up in flames. Then he has The Shadow rushing through the
doorway to rescue the kidnap victims before the master criminal can shine a
searchlight onto the electric eye. The logic escapes me. Why the rush? The
Shadow could easily have covered the electric eye as he passed through the door,
and then there would have been no hurry. He could have covered it with a piece
of tape, with his cloak, or he could have just disconnected the wires. But
instead, he leaves it intact and has to feverishly make haste, and cut it very
close, to escape with the victims before the big bang. Some things, like this,
just don't make a lot of sense in a Tinsley story. They are exiting to read at
the moment, but they don't withstand close scrutiny after you have finished the
A couple final points of interest. At the end of the story, the master villain
lives. Usually, in both Tinsley's and Gibson's stories, the bad guy is killed in
the final act. This time, he lives and is in police custody. Not a really rare
occurrence, but one worthy of note.
Also, this story ends with a plug for the next issue's story, "The Strange
Disappearance of Joe Cardona." This was standard practice in Street & Smith's
other big pulp seller, Doc Savage. Every story ended with mention of what would
be coming up next month. But it only happened rarely in The Shadow stories. It
would seem that Street & Smith was experimenting, here.
Another point of interest is that apparently in Theodore Tinsley's version of
1936 New York, the street lights had no yellow. It's mentioned that a taxi and
sedan pass a green traffic light which immediately turns to red. Manhattan had
completed the switch-over to three-color lights by the mid-1920's. Makes me
wonder if Tinsley wasn't a native New Yorker, and wasn't familiar with the
newfangled traffic lights in the big city. (And I'll make no comment about how
yellow lights are often still ignored today.)
In this story, The Shadow uses his girasol ring to cut glass. He does this in
order to escape a death trap and avoid that poison gas, around which the entire
plot revolves. In case you're wondering, yes, a girasol can actually cut glass.
It's not as hard as a diamond, but it is still slightly harder than glass. Glass
has a hardness of about 5.5 and a girasol's hardness ranges between 6 and 7. So,
it could theoretically be used as described here. Tinsley liked the concept so
much that he used it again in his very next Shadow story, "Foxhound." And again
in 1940's "City of Fear." Walter Gibson never had The Shadow use his girasol
ring to cut glass; that was strictly Tinsley's invention.
I got a laugh, unintentional I'm sure, when The Shadow cut through the glass to
escape the gas trap. We're told that "under his evenly applied pressure, the
circle of glass fell outward and smashed on the floor." Yet four sentences
later, The Shadow quiets his recently-released victims because, "He wanted no
betraying noise to warn men outside the room that living victims still breathed
unhurt in that chamber of horror." Like someone would hear their whispers, but
couldn't hear that huge circle of glass smashing on the floor mere seconds
before? Ha! Ya gotta love the logic of the pulp!
One final point of interest. This is the Shadow story that inspired the very
first Batman story. You can read all about it in Anthony Tollin's article
"Foreshadowing The Batman" which appears in The Shadow #9 pulp reprint. The
paperback reprints "Lingo" and "Partners of Peril." As Anthony explains in his
article, the Batman story was lifted intact from Tinsley's Shadow story being
reviewed here. Interesting reading!
This is a fun and pulpy story that I recommend you read. Plenty of death traps,
from vats of acid to exploding munitions stores. Plenty of fast and furious
action and thrills aplenty in this special Shadow pulp treat. I really enjoyed
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.