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X Shadow Volume 11 [Pulp Reprint] #5026
The Shadow Volume 11
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Product Code: 5026

The Shadow
Volume 11

Pulp fiction's legendary Knight of Darkness returns in two of his most engrossing adventures. In "The Road of Crime", a 1933 tale of redemption, a former criminal attempts to reform his life with some unseen help from The Shadow. Then, a series of robberies and murders casts suspicion on two supposedly-reformed criminals. Did the "Crooks Go Straight" -- or has one of them returned to crime? This classic pulp collection also features George Rozen's spectacular pulp covers, all the original interior art by acclaimed illustrator Tom Lovell, and historical commentary by popular culture historian Will Murray.
Special Feature:
John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #11
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission

"Road of Crime" was originally published in the October 1, 1933 issue of The Shadow Magazine. Perhaps a more appropriate title would have been "Road From Crime" because this is a story of one man's journey from the evil clutches of crime to the freedom of honest, clean living. And it's all due to... you guessed it... the love of a good woman. And, of course, the just actions of The Shadow.

I love that title, though. It's reminiscent of "The Weed of Crime." I can almost hear the filtered voice of the Shadow coming over the radio on a Sunday evening announcing "The road of crime leads to death. The Shadow knows! Heh... heh... heh... ha...ha...!"

This isn't the radio show, however. This is the early 1933 pulp version of The Shadow. It's The Shadow who lurks in the background and doesn't play a large part in the actual story. The Shadow's part, though not large, is vital. And when he does show up, he dispenses justice with his huge automatics. And the dead bodies quickly begin to fall.

As our story opens, we meet our proxy hero Graham Wellerton. He's certainly no hero when our story begins, though. When we meet Wellerton, he's one of Manhattan's top bank robbers and mob lieutenant for King Furzman. And he's just successfully knocked off the Terminal National Bank for thousands of dollars. But he's not overly pleased with his success. Already the stirrings of a guilty conscience are beginning to make themselves evident.

The Shadow is involved from the very beginning. He has followed another of King Furzman's lieutenants, a cunning but crude fellow by the name of "Wolf" Daggert, from the scene of a failed bank holdup which Daggert had attempted. He tracked Daggert to the mob moss King Furzman. And while surreptitiously watching Furzman, he encountered Graham Wellerton.

After our handsome young bank robber Graham Wellerton leaves the apartments of King Furzman, a blazing gun battle erupts between Furzman and The Shadow. The mob boss goes down in a blaze of bullets. With the kingpin out of the way, The Shadow's job is to mop up the rest of the gang. Specifically, that means Wolf Daggert and Graham Wellerton.

Graham Wellerton, along with his gang, is heading out of Manhattan for Michigan where he plans a string of bank robberies in the mid-west. Wolf Daggert follows and takes over the gang, leaving Wellerton stranded several hundred miles short of Michigan. And that's where young Wellerton's gradual conversion from crime begins.

We are given a little back-story on how Graham Wellerton started down the road of crime. It seems he was the son of a wealthy business owner in Southwark, a prosperous mid-west city. But he got into a jam and woke up to find himself married to a cheap, painted gangster's moll named Carma Urstead. He needed dough to hush things up. He ran with bad company, and it wasn't long before the lure of easy cash led him to crime. Shortly thereafter, his wealthy father died, and his skinflint uncle, Ezra Talboy, fleeced his father's estate of all its money.

So here we have a young man who has lost his fortune, his own uncle being the cause of the loss. He's penniless, working as a bank robber for mob boss King Furzman. And he's been tricked into marriage with the cold, heartless Carma. She only shows up every few months to squeeze money out of him. And now he finds himself stranded in the mid-west without a mob. Stranded in Southwark, of all places. Southwark, where he grew up. Southwark, where his miserly Uncle Ezra still lives. Southwark, to where he swore he'd never return.

And that's where his life begins to turn around. That's where he meets Ralph Delkin, a big manufacturer in the town of Southwark, and his beautiful young daughter Eunice. Delkin was Graham Wellerton's father's friend, and gives him a place to stay. It's Delkin's friendship and Wellerton's growing attraction to Eunice that begin his gradual trip back from crime to honest citizenship.

The tale is unlike most of Walter Gibson's Shadow pulp mysteries. It's very reminiscent of the Horatio Alger stories. But instead of following a young street urchin as he grows to become wealthy through sheer pluck, we follow a young man forced into crime as he gradually climbs his way up to respectability. And, yes, wealth.

As was typical in these very early Shadow stories, The Shadow plays only a minor role. He remains in the background, stepping in at crucial moments to help shape the destiny of this one young man. It's only through the love of a good woman and the timely intervention of The Shadow that Graham Wellerton climbs up from the low road of crime. That, and a few well-placed plot devices and coincidences which eventually lead him to a life free from crime, wealthy, and with the woman he loves.

We not only see very little of The Shadow, himself, but we are nearly half-way through the story before any of The Shadow's agents show up. Rutledge Mann appears to compile newspaper clippings and reports from other agents. And he makes a trip to that abandoned "B Jonas" office on Twenty-third Street, to deliver the envelope into the mail slot there. A minor point to note: the office is referred to only as "Jonas" not "B Jonas" this time around.

Burbank, The Shadow's other contact man, appears in only one scene, to pass along some verbal reports from several agents. Harry Vincent is sent to Southwark, to keep an eye on things while The Shadow travels between Manhattan and Southwark and back on various errands. Clyde Burke stays in New York and is assigned the duty of keeping an eye on Carma Urstead. Cliff Marsland continues to lurk in Manhattan's underworld, watching for signs of Wolf Daggert's hideout. Although these agents' duties are described for us, only Harry Vincent actually appears. And he only gets one short line of dialogue.

Many of the standard locales of The Shadow pulp adventures are already in place, even though this was only the thirty-ninth of the three-hundred-twenty-five pulp novels. Red Mike's place, an infamous underworld dive, is mentioned. There are several visits to his hidden sanctum. The Shadow uses his rubber suction cups to climb to the outside of a fourth-floor apartment window along a vertical wall. And he flies his special monoplane from New York to Grand Rapids and back.

While in his sanctum, The Shadow's long white hands are described, and on the third finger of his left hand is the famous girasol ring. It's described as "a priceless girasol, a rare jewel unmatched in all the world." Of course, we know from later events that the claim is actually false. It is matched by its twin, the other eye of a Xincan idol. (The story of the two girasols was told by Walter Gibson himself, in 1977 at Orlandocon in Florida.)

It has been said that in the stories written by Walter Gibson, women never die. But in this one, Carma Urstead is shot and killed at the story's climax. That's extremely rare. In fact, I can't remember any other Gibson-authored story where that happens. (But one or two Tinsley-authored stories had molls die.) I can see where Carma's death was necessary for the plot, in order to free young Graham Wellerton to marry our heroine Eunice Delkin. It wasn't The Shadow that killed her; it was the local sheriff. So I think we should rephrase the original statement slightly: in the stories written by Walter Gibson, "innocent" women never die.

One last comment is about The Shadow's archives. They are referred to occasionally in the early years, but disappeared and were never mentioned in the later stories. This story makes reference to those secret archives. Those are the large books in which The Shadow's handwritten exploits were recorded at the end of each adventure.

As this story puts it, "those massive tomes which, like The Shadow's identity itself, would never be discovered!" Well...never say never. Because the early pulp magazines claimed that Maxwell Grant had been given access to those records, in order to write the stories. (Maxwell Grant, of course, was a fictional person -- the house name given by Street & Smith to the author of The Shadow tales.) So the massive tomes were discovered.

And, as it turned out, The Shadow's identity would be discovered, too. Readers discovered his identity in the 1937 story "The Shadow Unmasks." And several story characters discovered (or were told) The Shadow's identity during the nineteen-year run of the pulp magazine. So the original statement wasn't accurate. But, it sounded good at the time.

This is one of the more unique Shadow pulp stories. It's a tale of redemption; one man's fight to pull himself from the quicksand of crime. Young Graham Wellerton, bank robber and gentleman crook, has been forced down the road of crime by an evil woman. We watch as he struggles with his conscience and finally regains the path of right and lawfulness.

It reads very unlike most of the other Shadow stories. But I really liked it. A nice change of pace that I can recommend.

"Crooks Go Straight" was originally published in the March 1, 1935 issue of The Shadow Magazine. How many crooks go straight? Two crooks, to be exact. This story follows the reformed lives of two ex-crooks, Steve Zurk and Jack Targon. Steve Zurk was in the pen for a bank robbery. Jack Targon was a convicted swindler. But both have recently been pardoned by the governor, and are now free men.

Aboard the Eastern Limited, headed for New York, Zurk and Targon sit in their drawing room on the train. They discuss their past lives and their bright future. Both are determined to go straight and make a success of their lives. In the compartment next door, The Shadow listens to their conversation via a small wire. Although his usual task was to harry men of crime, The Shadow had more than once aided ex-crooks to go straight. And this was one of those times.

Both Zurk and Targon have been invited to visit wealthy philanthropist Perry Delhugh. Delhugh has promised to find them jobs, if they promise to report to him several times a week. It's an offer they plan to accept. And one of which The Shadow approves.

They arrive at the mansion of wealthy Perry Delhugh. He gives each a loan of one thousand dollars. To Steve Zurk, a man who shows business sense, he arranges credit at the Sourlain Hotel. Also a personal letter of recommendation to Joseph Daylin, head of the Daylin Importing Company. A job is awaiting Zurk there, with the potential for advancement.

To Jack Targon, a man of proven sales ability, he arranges living quarters at the Hotel Cliquot. And a business recommendation to Galen Flix, president of the New Century Advertising Agency. Targon will be able to use his abilities as an ad-man.

And so, two ex-convicts begin their new lives. Crooks have gone straight. Or have they? There are sudden murders. Robberies. And signs point to one of the two. Or perhaps, both! Only The Shadow can solve the mystery. Only The Shadow can uncover the true mastermind behind the scheme. Only The Shadow can clear the innocent and unmask the guilty.

This story features Cliff Marsland, Hawkeye and Harry Vincent in major roles, with Clyde Burke and Burbank taking minor ones. Police Commissioner Ralph Weston and Detective Joe Cardona appear to represent the law. And The Shadow appears in his disguise as Lamont Cranston.

Moe Shrevnitz appears briefly, and is described as a reserve agent of The Shadow. I always considered Moe to be a full-time agent, but keep in mind that his was an early tale of The Shadow. Moe had been introduced only four months earlier in "The Chinese Disks" and apparently hadn't yet been awarded full-time status among the agents of The Shadow.

The story features that strange vial (spelled phial, here) of purplish liquid which restores The Shadow's strength after being injured in a two-story fall. It's been used in other stories, and always intrigues me because of its vague power. We're never told exactly what it is, but its effect is immediate. Are we talking about some illicit narcotic, here? Somehow, I wouldn't be surprised.

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.

Average Customer Review: Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 11 Write a review

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
4 of 5 A different Shadow Case January 19, 2021
Reviewer: Stephen Schmehl from Jennings, MO United States  
I just received and read the "Crooks Go Straight" entry in Volume 11.
It is an enjoyable 1935 story which pulls the reader in and keeps him there until the Shadow resolves the problems faced by the reformed 'proxy heroes'.
You should read this and the "Road To Crime" entries if only for the flavor of the  1930s.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 January 14, 2021
Reviewer: Mike Gilmer from Woodstock , IL United States  

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 January 5, 2021
Reviewer: Ron Marechek from Parrish, FL United States  

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
4 of 5 The good old days. January 5, 2021
Reviewer: Nick Collins from Glasgow, KY United States  
Most of these were before my time, but I still like them.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 June 9, 2020
Reviewer: Roy Morgan from Elyria, OH United States  

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