Popular Publications publisher Harry Steeger and writer Robert J. Hogan had scored a hit with G-8 and His Battles Aces in 1933. A year later, they put their heads together and concocted a crime series with a fantasy flare. They called it The Secret 6!
Steeger always credited the successful Park Avenue Hunt Club stories running in the pages of Detective Fiction Weekly as his main inspiration. But the types of stories he asked Robert J. Hogan to write smacked of the one and only Doc Savage. In a sense, The Secret 6 was Doc Savage and his men—but without the superhuman aspects of Doc. The title was lifted from a 1931 crime film. To insure that the first issue sold like hotcakes, they stole a little more of Street & Smith’s thunder by titling that debut novel The Red Shadow.
The premise was simple. Framed for the crimes of diabolical Red Shadow, a mystery man with a haunted past calling himself King breaks out of the Death House. Scouring the Underworld, he assembles a team of shadowy specialists who dedicate themselves to hunting down The Red Shadow, which they did in their debut adventure.
Only four issues of The Secret 6 were ever published. But what a glorious run! The Red Shadow was followed by House of Walking Corpses, The Monster Murders and The Golden Alligator. Each succeeding novel was more fantastic than the one before. Collectively, they read like a dry run for Carleton E. Morse’s classic radio series, I Love a Mystery.
For his final Secret 6 opus, Robert Hogan took a new approach, emphasizing King, and relegating the other members of the fighting band to the background. Set in Florida, where the author resided for portions of his life, this is a treasure hunt on a grand scale, flavored by typical Popular Publications weirdness in the form of a giant alligator of unknown origins.
Will the Secret 6 survive this threat? Well, no. All the more reason to plunge in and enjoy the exciting quest for The Golden Alligator. Michael C. Gwynne narratives this swan song audiobook.