Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Phantom - The Golden Circle!

The Golden Circle the fifth novel in the Avon series featuring Lee Falk's famous jungle hero, is a snappy tale in which the Phantom must confront a gang of jewel thieves who just happen to be all women. The tale is by Ron Goulart writing under his "Frank Shawn" pseudonym and is adapted from the eleventh story in the original Phantom daily run. This yarn has the Phantom operating in civilization this time, beginning as it does on a train in which the Ghost Who Walks is himself accused of a crime. The wilds of New York City are the territory that he prowls along with his loyal sidekick the wolf Devil. 

The Phantom goes undercover in an effort to infiltrate the gang and he's rather more successful than I'd have expected. The outfit, located on Long Island seems rather easy penetrate, or maybe it's just the Phantom's mystique which makes it's easy for him to impress these chicks.  He helps them with a theft to ingratiate himself, but of course his ruse doesn't last forever. 

The structure of the story reminded me of vintage Edgar Rice Burroughs with alternating chapters dealing with first the Phantom and then one Lt. Colma of the NYC police department who was pursuing both the gang and the Phantom, a man he knew only as "Walker". This one would have made a fair to middling serial as well with several nifty places that might've served as cliffhangers. 

We get to see the difference between the Phantom's methods and those of a policeman when as an agent of justice and not necessarily the law, he feels the freedom to pick and choose a bit when it comes to rounding up the scoundrels. As he puts it, there was a murder committed and the perpetrators needed catching, and that was that. 

Next time it's The Mysterious Ambassador, the sixth novel in the series and one written by Lee Falk himself. 

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