Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Living Shadow!

Thanks to the lovely reprints from Sanctum Books, I've been dutifully filling my shelves with scores of Shadow novels by Walter Gibson, under his nom de plume of "Maxwell Grant" of course. Recently I finished once again the debut Shadow yarn, "The Living Shadow" which introduces the macabre world of the secretive crime fighter and introduces the audience to Harry Vincent, an operator plucked from his own untimely demise and literally owing his life to the mysterious Shadow.

Original Source for the First Shadow Cover
In this initial story, the Shadow uses his elaborate network of agents to plumb the mystery of a jewel heist. There is a distinct "Yellow Menace" angle to the tale as a Yang Foo, a fence for stolen goods get lots of attention in the story and is the inspiration for the cover which is borrowed from another Street and Smith publication. There is also a good deal of code breaking as The Shadow both deciphers and sends mysterious messages.

The Shadow in this story is different from the grim avenger we're mostly familiar with. He remains off stage a good deal more and there is not yet any hint of Lamont Cranston in the proceedings,he's just "The Shadow" a mysterious entity who battles crime for unknown reasons. Harry Vincent carries the action while The Shadow lingers in the background emerging from time to time to put his memorable stamp on things.

"The Living Shadow" is a satisfying yarn, but is apparently only one of a trio of stories Gibson cobbled together when given the brief to turn the famous laughing radio character into a viable pulp adventurer.

I read "The Living Shadow" many years ago in the Pyramid paperback format. Anthony Tollin has been thoughtful enough to publish in succession the first three Shadow novels as part of a anniversary celebration a few years back. I've been itching to read them through since and at last got around to doing so.

I'll have more to report later.

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