John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #6
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with
"The Shadow's Justice" was published in the April 15, 1933 issue of The Shadow Magazine. It's an early
Shadow tale that shows us The Shadow at his most deadly. His blasting .45's
never miss. He shoots; he scores! And there's one less gangster to worry the
This is the story of young Carter Boswick and his search for his inheritance.
It's the story of a conspiracy to murder him and collect the millions by the
forces of evil. It's the story of The Shadow who enters the picture to not only
safeguard young Carter, not only discover the hiding place of the treasure, but
unmask the hidden mastermind behind the sinister scheme and put an end to his
As our story opens, Farland Tracy, attorney at law, enters the old mansion of
Houston Boswick. Tracy is still in his forties, firm-faced, square-jawed and
stalwart with a dynamic air combined with self-assurance. Houston Boswick, owner
of the mansion, is aged and weary. He's a man past sixty whose thin face marks
him as one who has lost all former initiative.
The two meet in Boswick's second-floor study. Away from the prying ears of his
servant Headley and his nephew Drew Westling, the two feel free to discuss old
Houston Boswick's financial affairs. But little do they realize that ears are
listening in on them. Two pairs of ears! One from outside the study door, and
another pair outside the second-floor window.
The Shadow clings to the rough stone wall outside the study window, hanging far
above the ground. Clinging bat-like to the side of the building, the weird
phantom of the night overhears the secret conversation. But he's not the only
one. Young nephew Drew Westling, slight of form, sallow of complexion and
drooping in appearance, crouches outside the study door, also listening.
Old Houston Boswick tells his attorney that he hasn't long to live. He accepts
the fact, but lives with one final hope: his son's return. Ten years before,
young Carter Boswick had left to seek his fortune, traveling to many parts of
the world. Old Houston has just received a letter from Carter stating that he is
returning home. He should arrive in two weeks. But Houston feels he will not
live to greet his son.
Houston Boswick entrusts two letters to his lawyer. One is for his son. The
other is for his nephew. If young Carter returns as planned, Farland Tracy the
attorney is to give him his letter and destroy the second one. But if, by some
chance, he should not return, then the second letter is to be given to Drew
Westling, the nephew.
The contents of the two letters are nearly identical. They give the heir hints
as to the hiding place of his secret wealth. Old Houston Boswick has hidden away
the majority of his wealth. To the world at large, Houston Boswick is worth
about a million dollars. But unknown to the world, old Boswick has amassed ten
times that amount and hidden it in some unknown spot.
Thus begins our tale of intrigue and mystery. It starts in the New Jersey
mansion of Houston Boswick. It then moves to Havana, Cuba where young Carter
Boswick stops off on his way home from Montevideo. There, attempts are made on
his life. Attempts that are thwarted by The Shadow.
Our tale then moves aboard the Southern Star steamship as young Carter Boswick
continues his travels homeward. But the danger has not passed. Whoever is out to
kill young Carter continues to scheme. The Shadow must intervene once again, on
the slippery decks of the ocean-bound steamship.
Will Carter Boswick return home safely, or will he meet his doom at the hands of
persons unknown? Will he find the ten-million-dollar treasure, or will it fall
to young Drew Westling? And what is the strange clue that leads to the hiding
spot of the millions? Can even The Shadow find the secret location of old
Houston Boswick's inheritance? The answers to these and more questions will all
be found within this great early Shadow pulp mystery.
In this story, The Shadow appears most of the time as his black-clad self, with
black gloves, cape and slouch hat. He briefly appears in disguise as Lamont
Cranston, since the real Cranston is conveniently out of the country. And he
also appears disguised as a Cuban thug named Herrando. But these disguises are
only used sparingly.
Assisting The Shadow in this story is his secret agent Harry Vincent. He's the
only agent to appear in this story. Contact man Burbank and investment broker
Rutledge Mann are mentioned once, but don't actually appear. Nor do any
law-enforcement officers appear. No mention is made of regulars Joe Cardona,
Commissioner Weston or federal agent Vic Marquette.
It's interesting to note that in this story, The Shadow scales the outside of a
building with his bare hands. Actually, gloved, not bare! He doesn't use those
strange rubber disks that allow him to cling to stone walls. The suction cups
had been introduced nearly a year before in "The Crime Cult" and had appeared in
three other pulp novels since then, one just a month previously. But for some
reason, Walter Gibson decided not to write them into this story.
It's also worth noting that once again The Shadow shows his careless disregard
for his .45 automatics. In the heat of battle, he drops them to the floor when
they are emptied, and whips out another pair from the folds of his black cloak.
But he never bothers to retrieve the dropped pair. He just leaves them there.
Since this seems to happen in many Shadow mysteries, it gives one pause to
wonder about all the firearms left unclaimed for anyone to pick up. In the real
world, this would seem to be a most irresponsible thing to do. But in this
special pulp world, perhaps they are always picked up by the police in an
ensuing, but unmentioned, investigation.
The Shadow's famous autogiro makes another appearance here. It first appeared in
"The Death Tower" over a year previously. It appears here again, not just as a
gratuitous appearance, but actually plays an important part in the discovery of
the hiding place of the treasure. Without the autogiro, The Shadow would not
have found it!
One final note, in this story we get to learn one more tidbit of information
about Harry Vincent. We are told that Harry seldom dreams. Just a casual
comment. But helps add to the somewhat slim information we possess about The
Shadow's main agent.
"The Broken Napoleons" was originally published in the July 15, 1936 issue of The Shadow Magazine. The
Napoleons in the story title refer to the gold coins minted by the French. But
these coins are special. Not just any gold Napoleons, these are dated 1815 and
have been broken in half. They are a symbol of death; death by a mysterious
mastermind known only as Levautour.
Levautour is the villain in this story. Levautour is French for le vautour;
translated, that means 'the vulture.' He's a master criminal who has swindled
men of wealth out of millions. He has also sent death to over twenty of his
victims. The broken Napoleons are his tokens of death; death to the men who
receive it. And the other half of the coins? He keeps them, like notches on a
gun, to remember how many he has killed.
Our story opens as Curt Sturley, an engineer who had once been crooked and then
gone straight, is being tempted to again enter into crime. Sturley's father had
been swindled, disgraced, and forced to commit suicide. He was a victim of
Levautour. Sturley wants to track Levautour down and seek vengeance. To achieve
this end, he joins Butch Drongo's mob. Butch Drongo has one of the broken
Napoleons, and knows its mysterious source.
Butch Drongo is killed during the robbery of the East Side Trust Co., and
Sturley, his lieutenant, takes over leadership of the mob. But he's mob boss
only briefly before being captured by The Shadow. He awakes aboard The Shadow's
ship, the Reciprocity.
Yes, The Shadow has a ship! You knew he owned a mansion. You knew he owned a
limousine. You knew he owned an autogyro. But you never knew he owned a ship!
The Reciprocity's an old, rust-covered steamship, built fifteen years ago. It
had found a haven in the "ghost fleet" of the upper Hudson - the graveyard of
ships too good to scrap, but not worth operating. The Shadow bought it and
renovated the black ship to help Slade Farrow transport criminals to his
Slade Farrow was first introduced in "The Green Box" in the March 15, 1934 issue
of The Shadow Magazine. He is one of The Shadow's few friends, and is the only
person who knows the true identity of The Shadow (not counting the two Xinca
servitors). He has recently created a rehabilitation colony for criminals on a
cluster of tropical isles, where necessities have been provided, where there is
work for men to do; where money is absent; where fight for possession is not
Curt Sturley is aboard the Reciprocity on the way to Slade Farrow's colony. He
sits down in Farrow's cabin, and has a long discussion with Farrow and The
Shadow. At the discussion's end, he has forsaken crime, and agrees to become an
agent of The Shadow. Curt Sturley, deposed from the big-shot glory that he has
not sought, is again a man of honor. He is in the service of The Shadow!
The second half of the story takes place on the yacht Nepenthe and follows
Sturley as he aids The Shadow in his search for the mysterious Levautour. They
only know that Levautour is someone aboard the yacht. The Nepenthe is owned by
Hubert Craylon. He spends his winters in Bermuda which is where The Shadow sends
Sturley to board the yacht as a guest of Lord Basil Jenley.
At this point, Sturley becomes our proxy hero. As guest on the yacht, he must
closely watch the other guests. There is Gregg Lownden, a westerner, a magnate,
a mine owner. There's Hubert Craylon, owner of the Nepenthe and a millionaire in
his own right. There's Count Louis Surronne, a wealthy Frenchman who claims to
be in love with Craylon's daughter Diana. And then there's Leigh, the stealthy
steward who's been recently hired for the trip. One of them must surely be
Levautour, and Sturley must assist The Shadow is discovering the identity of the
In the first half of the story, we see familiar characters Cliff Marsland,
Burbank, Hawkeye, Moe Shrevnitz, and Lamont Cranston. After that, the action is
focused solely on Curt Sturley and his adventures aboard the Nepenthe.
It's a great story that shows The Shadow rehabilitating a criminal, giving him a
second chance to live a clean, straight life.
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.