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Shadow Volume131 [Pulp Reprint] #5321
The Shadow Volume 131


 
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The Shadow
Volume 131

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! The Dark Avenger searches for Revolutionary War treasures in two never-reprinted pulp thrillers by Walter. B. Gibson writing as “Maxwell Grant." First, The Shadow confronts a ghost when a deadly inheritance dating back to the American Revolution sets cousins against each other in their pursuit of "Vanished Treasure." Then, the Master of Darkness follows a dead man’s map on a deadly treasure hunt that leads to the "Isle of Gold." This instant collectors item showcases the classic color pulp covers by George Rozen and Graves Gladney plus Edd Cartier's original interior illustrations, with historical commentary by Will Murray.
 

John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #131
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission

"Vanished Treasure" was originally published in the October 15, 1938, issue of The Shadow Magazine. The treasure of the title disappeared long ago. It dated back to Revolutionary times and was reputed to be worth a cool half-million dollars. There’s now a rush to find the treasure, and murder will rear its ugly head before The Shadow can defeat the powers of evil intent upon possessing the gold.
 
Any Shadow story that features a treasure hunt is bound to be good. Then add in a spooky old mansion, a ghost, five greedy relatives and a mob boss who controls the Manhattan rackets and you’ve got the makings of an excellent mystery. And this one doesn’t disappoint, either. As is typical of most 1930s Shadow stories, this one delivers the goods.
 
When old Titus Beld died, he took the secret of the old hidden treasure with him. The treasure dated back to the time of the American Revolution. The Belds were a prominent Tory family, and they were entrusted with huge funds. The money was buried somewhere near the Long Island homestead, but it was never dug up again. And over the years, the exact location of the gold was lost.
 
Titus Beld left five heirs when he passed to the great beyond. He only had fifty thousand dollars to split among the five. But there’s rumors of the vanished treasure worth a half-million dollars. And that interests at least one of the heirs. Hugh Claymer, one of three cousins, wants to find that treasure.
 
Hugh Claymer offers to join with this cousins, Marcus Beld and Eunice Kerlen, to buy the old mansion. They’ll split the cost, and search for the treasure. They’ll split evenly if they find it. But they both decline. Eunice Kerlen doubts the treasure still exists, although her fiancé, Roger Hasting, feels it would be a worthwhile investment.
 
Marcus Beld, the other cousin, declines to join the hunt for a different reason. He owes a gambling debt to Itch Fendel, a Manhattan racketeer who controls a mob of hoodlums. Marcus figures that he and Itch can keep an eye on Hugh Claymer in case he strikes it rich. And if Claymer succeeds in unearthing the treasure, Beld and Fendel can just move in and take over the find.
 
Without any takers in the treasure hunt, Hugh Claymer prepares to search by himself. Luckily Roger Hasting, cousin Eunice’s fiancé, is willing to help out, so Claymer isn’t completely alone. And because of Hasting’s involvement, Eunice is drawn into the situation as well.
 
There are also two aunts among the heirs. Aunt Sophia is the only one we meet. She’s a superstitious soul, convinced the family ghost haunts the mansion. According to the old records, there was a British soldier who died during the Revolution. He was left at the Beld estate, mortally wounded. His last words were a promise to haunt those who deserted him. And now, every time people come back to the mansion, the ghost appears.
 
So, we have Hugh Claymer searching the old family estate for the buried treasure. We have Roger Hasting assisting, with Eunice Kerlen in tow. We have Marcus Beld and Itch Fendel in hiding, watching to see if the treasure is found. We have a ghost from Revolutionary times stalking the deserted halls of the old mansion, striking terror into poor Aunt Sophia. And we have The Shadow moving silently through the darkness watching the goings-on, ready to step in and battle those who would commit deadly crime in the name of greed. Whew, what a story!
 
The Shadow is assisted by long-time agent Harry Vincent. Harry’s job is to keep Roger Hasting under observation. The best way to do that is to befriend young Roger and join him in the treasure hunt. The only other agent who appears is contact-man Burbank.
 
Normally Burbank sits in a dark room filled with telephone equipment, keeping The Shadow in contact with his agents. He rarely gets out of that room. It’s nice to see an exception in this story. Burbank, who is an expert at all things electrical and mechanical, gets to assist The Shadow in the field. He gets a job as an elevator operator in Itch Fendel’s hotel. And due to his skill in handling the elevator, he saves The Shadow’s life, while at the same time, a cold-blooded killer meets a most timely and justly-deserved demise, falling down a dark elevator shaft to his doom far below.
 
Usually, Burbank’s job is to contact agents and give them instructions from their chief, or to receive reports from the agents of The Shadow, then forward them to The Shadow. Very rarely do agents get to speak directly to The Shadow. But this is one of those rare occasions. Harry Vincent calls up Burbank with information. But instead of taking down the message, Burbank plugs in a wire on his switchboard and connects Harry directly to The Shadow. Not something you see happen very often, probably because it’s rare that both agents and The Shadow are both near a phone at the same time. That’s quite a difference from today’s world where nearly everyone carries a cell phone and can be contacted at any time.
 
The only other recurring character in this story is ace police inspector Joe Cardona. He appears to investigate an attack by Itch Fendel’s thugs on Roger Hasting, who was doing some research on the old treasure in the library. But that’s the extent of his reference. And no sign of his boss, police commissioner Ralph Weston.
 
It is pointed out in this story that usually when The Shadow meets crooks, there is a fatal confrontation. If they didn’t make a lucky escape, they were left lying in a pool of blood. As author Walter Gibson explains, “When they didn’t, The Shadow turned them over to the law; but rogues so handled never discussed the fact.” For a brief period, instead of handing them over to the law, he sent them to Slade Farrow’s rehabilitation center hidden on a chain of tropical islands. This was mentioned in several stories, notably 1936’s “The Yellow Door” and “The Broken Napoleons” and 1937’s “The Sealed Box.” But by 1938 the concept was dropped, and The Shadow just turned them over to the law. And he left the rehabilitation to Doc Savage and his “college.”
 
Speaking of Doc Savage, when you think of gizmos and gadgets being used by a crime fighter, you usually think of Clark Savage, Jr., not The Shadow. But The Shadow did have his share of gadgets as well. In this story, he uses a fake mechanism that simulates the sound of coins plunking into the pay-box of a pay telephone. A minor usage of gadgetry, to be sure. It can’t compare to the wonderful assortment of gadgets used by Doc Savage, but it just goes to illustrate that The Shadow wasn’t completely without clever gizmos.
 
This makes for another great Shadow mystery. The Shadow must discover the secret behind the treasure, deal with the family ghost, keep young Roger Hasting from harm, and thwart the evil plans of Marcus Beld and Itch Fendel. Yes, Walter Gibson hits another home run with this one. Definitely worth reading.
 

"Isle of Gold" was published in the August 1, 1939, issue of The Shadow Magazine. The search for gold and silver, buried on an island. And The Shadow embarks on a treasure hunt of death!
 
What a fun Shadow adventure! This is the stuff of which classics are made. This is one of 1939’s best pulp stories. It delivers what you are looking for in a Shadow tale. Great plot, interesting settings, plenty of action. I read this story in two sittings, something I rarely do. It kept my interest, even though I had already read it once, eleven years previously. After all, who can resist a treasure hunt?
 
As the story opens, Roy Orwin, a budding young architect, comes across an old map. A treasure map. A map found in the pocket of a dead man. A man who has just been gunned down by a gang of cutthroats. But not an innocent man. Oh, no. This man had just been about to shoot an innocent young girl. A beautiful young girl that Roy Orwin fell instantly in love with.
 
Who is the young lady? Who is the assailant? Why does he want her dead? And why is he, in turn, gunned down by a crew of thugs in a sedan? And what’s that rolled-up paper in his pocket? Why, it’s a map! A treasure map!
 
The Shadow comes to the rescue of the two young people, sending the gang of cutthroats scurrying. The young lady quickly reenters her apartment, at The Shadow’s instructions. Roy Orwin is hustled into a taxicab and sent to safety. In the taxi, he realizes he still holds the map.
 
It’s a map of Falmouthe Harbour, the original name of Portland, Maine, and the adjacent Casco Bay, famous for its many islands. One particular island is marked with a red circle: “Spyglass Island.” That’s where a Captain Mowatt in the British service was supposed to have buried his treasure, after he bombarded Falmouthe early in the Revolution.
 
Over the years, many have searched for the treasure, but none have found it. And the map reveals why: the islands have been renamed since then. The island currently known as Spyglass Island was actually unnamed back at the time of the Revolutionary War. The real treasure island, originally called Spyglass Island, is now called Hawk Island. And no one has thought to dig for treasure there!
 
Roy Orwin and his friend Sidney Bayne decide to postpone their trip to work an Arizona gold mine, and instead head off to Maine and Hawk Island to search for treasure. They arrive at Casco Bay and make their way out to Hawk Island. On their trip out, they pass a cabin cruiser, The Cayuga, upon which Harry Vincent is living. Harry, acting as agent for The Shadow, is keeping an eye on things for them.
 
Once there, they find a crazy old hermit who lives in a cave on the far side of Hawk Island. Old Pete Quilton is a nut, but does he have a legal claim to any treasure they should find?
 
No sooner do they set up camp on Hawk Island than they meet a young lady who rows up in an old dory. Roy recognizes her immediately: she’s the same young lady he helped rescue in New York. She introduces herself. She’s Catherine Dale, owner of the nearby Round Island. And, surprisingly enough, also owner of Hawk Island!
 
And thus, our adventure has begun. Roy and Sid quickly find the location of the buried treasure, and begin their excavations. As Roy and Sid get closer to the treasure, we discover that there are two separate gangs who are intent upon appropriating the treasure. But only after they’ve let Roy and Sid do all the hard work.
 
There is a mob from Manhattan, lead by Clink Brackell. He learned about the treasure while in New York. He was the leader of the gang that gunned down the man with the map. Clink and his mob are a bunch of tough customers, and they’ll stop at nothing to get the treasure.
 
Another crew seeking the treasure is headed by a man named Commodore. They are local smugglers who cruise their fake fishing fleet daily past Hawk Island. They’re a ring of men who deal in everything from liquor to silks to rifles and ammunition. And murder! Does Commodore actually take his orders from the hermit of Hawk Island, Pete Quilton?
 
It all makes for a rousing adventure on the island, where gold and silver are to be found. And budding romance between Roy Orwin and Catherine Dale can be found as well. But there’s also danger to be found. Danger and death. And only The Shadow can guarantee their safety!
 
The Shadow sends in his full complement of agents to help out in this story. Harry Vincent, sitting snugly aboard the Cayuga, talks by short-wave radio to his chief, The Shadow. Cliff Marsland infiltrates the waterfront of Portland to keep an eye on the smuggling gang. Clyde Burke covers a newspaper assignment in Portland, while Hawkeye covers Clink Blackwell’s farmhouse hideout at Freeport. And Jericho Druke shows up to assist in the mopping up of the two rival gangs.
 
Burbank leaves his room in Manhattan and is stationed at a Portland hotel. It’s good to see Burbank out doing field work. He rarely gets to leave his hidden location in New York in these stories. Here, he actually gets to go out onto the water.
 
It’s mentioned here that Harry Vincent talks to Burbank in person, something he has scarcely ever done before. In the 1935 story “The Case of Congressman Coyd” it was mentioned that Vincent had never seen Burbank’s face before. So now in this story, some four years later, they have apparently met face-to-face, but only once or twice.
 
The Shadow appears in no disguises in this story. There is no mention of Lamont Cranston, Henry Arnaud or any of his other disguises. He is strictly the man in black here.
 
Representing the forces of law and order is government man Vic Marquette. But he only appears briefly in the last chapter. No mention is made of Commissioner Weston or Detective Cardona.
 
I found this one of the most enjoyable Shadow mysteries that I’ve read in quite a while. You won’t do wrong to read it!
 

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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Shadow 132 August 7, 2018
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July 15, 2018
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July 13, 2018
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Vanished Millions/Isle of Gold July 10, 2018
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July 9, 2018
Reviewer: Bill Van Wagoner from Salt Lake City, UT United States  


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