Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eyes Of The Shadow!

Eyes of the Shadow is the second Shadow novel by Walter (call me Maxwell Grant) Gibson. One of his stated goals in this outing was to establish more about the nature of The Shadow himself and to that end he introduced the character of Lamont Cranston, the wealthy millionaire with an avid interest in wireless technology who seems at least to be The Shadow's alter ego.

This is a much more lurid and weird pulp story than the debut story. It concerns a dying man's attempt to share a treasure with six of his compatriots from long ago but his plan goes awry when dangerous men intervene before he dies. His nephew is charged with the mission but needs the extensive help of Harry Vincent and The Shadow to save not only himself but the other men as well. The villains are a heinous lot and among their number is a murderous "ape man" who lurks in the corners ready to pounce. An arch villain of sorts is introduced in the person of the aged and exceedingly evil Isaac Coffran.

I really enjoyed this story, one in which the details of The Shadow's work are just getting developed. We meet The Shadow's ace wireless man Burbank for instance. This isn't quite The Shadow we have become familiar with, but it's getting closer all the time.

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  1. Lamont Cranston was definitely the Shadow's real identity on the radio show, which I think also created Margo Lane; both of these elements helped streamline the storytelling. And you have to love the interplay between Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead. In the pulps, though, the Shadow's identity was a bit more vague. He was probably pilot Kent Allard, and Cranston was someone whose identity he occasionally used. ( I seem to remember a disturbing scene where The Shadow shows up in Cranston's bedroom and tells him to get out of town.)
    It's interesting to note that even though the Shadow may have not really been a wealthy man-about-town, virtually every masked adventurer that followed was indeed some sort of millionaire playboy : The Phantom Detective, The Spider, The Batman. They must've been fans of the radio series.

    1. The Kent Allard stuff was quite surprising to me when I first started reading the Shadow novels several years ago. It adds a great layer to the yarn, but I see why other formats like radio and movies dispense with it.

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