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Shadow Volume 12 [Pulp Reprint] #5030
The Shadow Volume 12
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The Shadow
Volume 12

The Dark Avenger explores the worlds of magic and mystery in two of Walter Gibson's most intriguing thrillers. The Shadow is buried alive when he battles Hindu thuggees of an ancient cult as he searches for the strange secrets of
"The Serpents of Siva". Then, Lamont Cranston visits a magic convention to investigate "The Magigals Mystery" -- and encounters a distinctive raconteur in author Walter Gibson's only pulp cameo. This classic collection also features George Rozen's original covers, all the original interior art by illustrators Edd Cartier and Paul Orban, and historical articles on Walter Gibson's magical world by Will Murray and Anthony Tollin.

Special Feature:
John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #12
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission

"The Magigals Mystery" was published in the Winter 1949 issue of The Shadow Magazine. This was one of the last Shadow pulp mysteries to be published. There would be only two more: "The Black Circle" and "The Whispering Eyes," in the spring and summer of 1949. Walter Gibson was back writing the series again, after a two-year absence. He was breathing new life back into the series. And this story was benefiting from that new life.

The Magigals are a national society of women magicians. This society actually does exist; it's not fiction. It was founded in 1938 by Frances Ireland Marshall. More recently the name was changed to Women in Magic, perhaps a slightly more PC sounding name.

Our story opens at the Magigals' yearly convention in Chicago. The city is full of beautiful young women with a penchant for magic. The city is also full of strange suicides. Eight cases in three days, and more on the way. Strange suicides; most untypical suicides.

All the suicides were wealthy out-of-towners. All were happy, healthy and successful. And all died in some spectacular way. One man wheeled his rented car in front of a speeding train. Another poisoned his own mint julep at an exclusive Chicago bar. Another rammed his speedboat into a cement tower. Another jumped from a thirteen-story balcony in front of two thousand witnesses.

The suicides were unusual. And that was a call for The Shadow! So on the opening day of the Magigals' convention, Lamont Cranston checks in to the Hotel Harbison in the center of downtown Chicago.

The Hotel Harbison is overflowing with young women here for the Magigals convention. And it doesn't take The Shadow long to figure out that there is some connection between the suicides at the magic convention. But what?

Could it have something to do with the mythical Professor Sedley Marsh? Supposedly, this inventor of magical tricks has left a treasure trove of new magical effects to his students. Could someone be murdering those students of magic and framing them to look like suicides? All in an attempt to find the extremely valuable cache of hitherto unseen magical tricks?

What about the crystal skull? It's life-size and completely transparent. Set deep in the hollow eye-sockets of the skull are two huge rhinestones that glitter with the brilliancy of diamonds. It can seemingly hear questions and answer them. It moves. It speaks. But how? What is the secret, and why do so many people want it? Perhaps want it enough to kill?

One of the people who wants it is beautiful young Verity Joyce. She's one of the Magigals. She has some strange connection to the crystal skull. She speaks to it, and expects it to respond. But it doesn't.

Then there's Hollywood "B" picture actor and magician John Halifax. He's definitely up to no good. A swarm of young Magigals would like to become his assistant on stage. And off! But he's only interested in Gail Tyburn, wife of a wealthy Chicago soap manufacturer Lester Tyburn.

Lester Tyburn has hired Regan, a private investigator to follow his wife and check up on her activities with the suave John Halifax. But Regan finds out much more than anyone could anticipate. But will he find out more than The Shadow? Will he find out the source of the strange suicides? Will he find out who stole the crystal skull? And where is the treasure trove of magical equipment located?

Only The Shadow can answer all these questions. Only The Shadow can find the fiend behind the murder/suicides. Only The Shadow can solve the mystery of the hidden magic. And only The Shadow can match wits with the Magigals.

Assisting The Shadow in this story is Inspector Rick Smedley of the Chicago Police. None of The Shadow's agents appear in the story, although contact-man Burbank is mentioned several times. The Shadow appears in disguise as millionaire and amateur-magician Lamont Cranston in this story. He also appears as old Isaac Twambley for one last time. The Twambley disguise would never be used again.

The Shadow seems quite adept with magic in this story, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. Throughout his crimefighting career, The Shadow often used the magicians' techniques of misdirection. He had encountered magicians and magic in other of his adventures. And let's not forget his own favorite trick, "The Devil's Whisper," which allowed him to create an explosion from his fingertips. (Too bad that trick doesn't show up in this story.)

This is the story in which Walter Gibson, writing as Maxwell Grant, mentions himself - Walter Gibson - as editor of Conjurer's Magazine. When he describes the patrons of the Chicago Magicians' Round Table, he uses actual names of various magazine editors and magicians. People he knew in real-life. And he included himself as "Walt Gibson of Conjurors'."

A final note of interest, I think this is the only time I've seen a character refer to The Shadow as "Mr. Shadow." And he also throws in a variation on the line, "The Shadow Knows" when he has the character say: "Anyway, I don't suppose you guessed, Mr. Shadow. Probably you just knew." Why do I feel a little uncomfortable with that line of dialogue?

As these were the waning days of The Shadow magazine, Gibson was brought back (after the Bruce Elliott disaster) to try to pump life back into the stories. As such, he was allowed to increase the size of the story. This one was nearly 54,000 words, quite an improvement from the typical 40,000-45,000 word size. And the style of the story harkened back to the stories of the mid-to-late 1930's. But it was too little, too late. The magazine was destined to last only two more issues.

"Serpents of Siva" was originally published in the April 15, 1938 issue of The Shadow Magazine. The servants of the strange god Siva are on the rampage, and it will take the might of The Shadow to stop them and defeat their sinister plans for death and destruction.

Jack Sarmon is searching for his good friend Courtney Renshell. Renshell has disappeared mysteriously, the latest in a rash of strange deaths and disappearances among New York's wealthy. But in the strange dark house of old Morton Mayland, Jack Sarmon meets a grisly death. Jack Sarmon went to Mayland's home to talk to his granddaughter Lucille, Courtney Renshell's fiancÚ. But instead of finding a clue, he found sudden and horrible death. Death at the hands of the serpents of Siva!

There had been a rash of recent deaths among Manhattan's society set. One wealthy gentleman had been killed in an automobile crash. Another, older, was found dead at his Berkshire hunting lodge, a victim of an accidental discharge of his own shotgun. Another was a victim of a collapsed stairway. The principal heirs, in each case, were persons of a similar type. All were quiet, reserved, and possessed a self-sufficient manner. And none of their deaths could be suspected of any foul play.

The Shadow suspects that something lies behind these recent deaths, and so has insinuated Harry Vincent with the young wealthy set. Harry poses as a fellow member of the Regatta Club, and is soon accepted as one of the crowd. He befriends Lucille Mayland, fiancÚ of the missing Courtney Renshell. And it's beautiful young Lucille who leads Harry, and The Shadow, to the cult of Siva.

The cult of Siva. This is a strange Hindu cult, which on the surface seems to be a straightforward religious group. Singhar Bund is guardian of the mighty Siva statue. A steady-eyed Hindu, who wears a golden robe, a turban of the same rare cloth, and a diamond crescent: the symbol of Siva. Yes, all appears aboveboard. But beneath the surface is a strange and murderous band of dacoits, those venomous masters of the fine art of strangulation.

Before long, The Shadow is fighting off droves of the brown-faced demons, followers of the Hindu Thuggee cult. And it doesn't take The Shadow long to determine that the innocent heirs of all the recently deceased victims are all members of the cult of Siva. Yes, it's the evil Singhar Bund who is sending out the fanatic dacoits to make murder seem accidental. And it's Singhar Bund who is milking dry the newly-wealthy heirs who are members of his cult. But The Shadow must do more than defeat the evil Singhar Bund. He must expose the cult, discover the truth behind the cult and wipe up the bands of dacoits poised to kill again and again.

There are plenty of racial slurs in this story, and the Hindus get the brunt of nearly all of it. They are described as contorted reptilian murderers. They are spidery figures with long gangling legs, wasted apish faces, eyes that glitter like a snake's and drawn lips that deliver a strange hiss. These are human reptiles. And at other times, they are described as monkeyish, brown-faced demons. And then, just to give equal time to slur another group, the Chinese get the old familiar "ink" word thrown at them. Something to offend everyone.

This story seems a little edgier than most of Walter Gibson's stories. But, yes, Gibson wrote it, not Theodore Tinsley. Tinsley was noted for his slightly "pulpier" style of writing, and the dismembered body of a man found in a packing crate is more his style. But this time it was Gibson writing about the body parts. And it ups the "yuck" factor just a bit.

Walter Gibson would also often insert little references to stage magic into his stories, since he was a respected amateur magician and author of many magic books and articles. But usually, he wouldn't expose the secrets behind any tricks. A good magician never reveals the trick. That policy was suspended in this story, however. Gibson explains how the yogis in the temple of Siva are able to levitate. The secret to that stage trick was probably well known even in 1938, so Gibson wasn't really giving away much of a secret. But the exception to the vow of secrecy is still noteworthy, none the less.

Most of the old familiar gang shows up for this outing. Commissioner Ralph Weston, Inspector Joe Cardona and Sergeant Markham all show up representing the New York Police. Agents of The Shadow who appear include hackie Moe Shrevnitz, trusted Harry Vincent, gangland-lurkers Cliff Marsland and Hawkeye, reporter Clyde Burke and contact-man Burbank.

The Shadow appears not only as himself, but in his often used disguise as millionaire Lamont Cranston. Although he is a master of disguise, he doesn't use any other disguises in this story. Police Inspector Joe Cardona does get a chance to don a disguise, though. He sneaks into the temple of Siva wearing a gray beard. But he's obviously not as good at disguise as is The Shadow, because he's quickly found out by the slimy Singhar Bund.

It's interesting to note that The Shadow receives a slight wound in this story. Usually Walter Gibson's Shadow character escaped all his adventures unscathed. Theodore Tinsley's Shadow character never seemed to fare as well. When Tinsley wrote The Shadow, you could expect a couple of wounds per novel. Not so Gibson's character. Occasionally he would be injured, but not often.

Other pulp characters were routinely wounded in action. The Spider, for example, reached the end of each of his pulp adventures well-battered and bleeding. Not so, The Shadow. Here in this story, a bullet skims his ribs, leaving a painful wound. We are later told he has found time to have the wound attended, and we can assume that was by Dr. Rupert Sayre, The Shadow's private physician. He's not mentioned by name, though.

The Shadow continues to amaze us with his mastery of languages. It seems there aren't many that he doesn't speak. We can now add Hindustani to the ever-growing list. When Singhar Bund speaks to his dacoits, The Shadow understands every word.

This is a fun story to read. There's the Temple of Siva where yogis lay on beds of spikes, levitate and survive being buried alive. There's the giant golden statue of Siva with its three heads and twelve arms. There's the brown-devil dacoits, the evil caste who consider murder by the cord to be a deed of virtue. And there's The Shadow, battling the sinister serpents... the servants... of Siva.

Will The Shadow heed the whispered voice of Siva? Can he defeat the mysterious power of the ancient Hindu god? Will he free the beautiful young cult member held prisoner by the sinister dacoits? All is answered in this pulp page-turner! I really liked it, and you will too.

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: 13 Write a review

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5 of 5 The Shadow Volume 12 May 3, 2021
Reviewer: Dave Miller from Moraine, OH United States  
The Shadow pulp reprint was fantastic and a great exciting nostalgic read. The process of ordering it on line was easy and it shipped to me very fast.

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5 of 5 January 14, 2021
Reviewer: Mike Gilmer from Woodstock , IL United States  

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5 of 5 Shipped well and in good shape January 7, 2021
Reviewer: Todd Handy from Santa Fe, NM United States  
Rec'd quickly and in good shape

Too bad they don't have more inventory at this good price

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5 of 5 January 6, 2021
Reviewer: roderick lindsey from lakeside, CA United States  

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Reviewer: Ron Marechek from Parrish, FL United States  

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