Though published in 1979, LEGEND IN BLUE STEEL is a true pulp tale, a leftover Spider novel that never saw print when the magazine ceased publication in December, 1943. Titled Slaughter, Incorporated, it was written by someone named Donald G. Cormack and the manuscript was found in 1978.
For legal reasons, all names had to be changed. The Spider became Blue Steel and his alter-ego, Richard Wentworth became Elsevier van Rijn. The cover bears no relationship to what’s inside(it was an unused Operator 5 cover) and the end of the book has a few pages of drawings of the Shadow of all people. And, of course, the author name. Spider Page, was a nod toward the best of the Spider writers, Norvell Page. Put out by the Python Publishing Group, I’m not at all familiar with this outfit.
The cover just has Blue Steel for a title. The spine has Blue Steel No. 1, and the title page has simply Legend In Blue Steel.
Now on to the plot.
Someone is murdering people at an unusual rate, several or more each day. Rich people, poor people, old, young, the only connection that can be found is that none of the victims are involved in crime.
Playboy/criminologist Elsevier van Rijn and his secret identity are investigating. Every time he gets close to finding something about the mysterious organization behind it all, his witnesses end up murdered. In one case, a crooked politician’s death is used to frame Rijn’s girl friend, Brenda Morgan, for the killing. Rijn’s faithful aide, Tara Khan, and Blue Steel manage to spirit her away from the police and the Commissioner, John Doughtery, Rijn’s friend, just in time.
There’s a subplot involving a young man framed for murdering his rich uncle that allows van Rijn, an expert at applying make-up, to go undercover, to find the shadowy “boss” that seems to terrify everyone that comes in contact with him. Wearing a hood, no one knows the man’s real identity.
It’s an okay novel and certainly wouldn’t have been one of the better Spider stories had it seen print back then. It had none of the fantastical elements that became a hallmark of the Spider stories during Page’s stewardship. Maybe that’s why it never made the cut.