I’ve been a fan of the old pulps for most of my adult life, especially of Doc Savage and The Shadow. This book is part of Nostalgia Ventures, Inc. series of Shadow novels. Each book contains two of the short novels originally from the magazine of the thirties and forties.
This one contains Justice, Insured, from the July 1, 1937 edition and The Golden Vulture, from the July 15, 1938 edition of the magazine.
In Justice, Insured, some hidden villain is insuring crimes. That is, if your robbery doesn’t come off successfully, you’re paid off. The premium you pay ahead is ten percent of the expected take. When the Shadow first foils a hundred thousand dollar jewel heist, then a quarter of a million dollar armored car robbery, the insurance company is suddenly losing money. The big “boss” puts a man on it who’s extraordinarily good at following secretly.
He traces several Shadow agents until he captures most of them, finds The Shadow’s secret sanctum, grabbing Burbank, and lays a trap for the cloaked crimefighter.
After escaping that, The Shadow must find this hidden Master and rescue his own men before they’re murdered, all the while hampered by the criminals knowing that Lamont Cranston is just another identity he uses when convenient.
THE GOLDEN VULTURE
In this one, six wealthy men in Miami have all committed suicide after withdrawing large sums of money from their banks. All shot themselves in the head in a locked room.
The Shadow doesn’t think so. He investigates, alone with Harry Vincent and Joe Cardona.
They discover The Golden Vulture is extorting money from wealthy men by threatening their families. When they finally balk, he engineers their “suicide” and moves on to the next one. The Shadow and his agents must protect the daughter of one of the victims and learn the hidden identity of the crime boss.
This novel has an interesting history. It was co-written, sort of, by two of the greatest of the pulp writers of all time. Walter Gibson was turning out two Shadow novels a month. The publishers’ plan was two fold. They wanted a back-up story for emergencies and they wanted to audition a writer for a new character they were planning.
That writer was Lester Dent and the new character was Doc Savage. A success, he went on to write the bulk of the Doc novels over the next few years. The practice novel was locked away in a safe and forgotten for five and a half years.
Then the editor wanted to salvage it.The Shadow in this novel, though, was no longer the same. Gibson had written a 150 Shadows since then. A lot had changed. Gibson went through, rewriting some chapters, cutting some, adding new ones. A lot of the gadgets that the Shadow didn’t really use were gone.
What finally emerged was a pretty good Shadow. It hi-lighted the best points of both writers.
Nostalgia is also republishing the Doc Savage novels in the same format, two to a book, reproductions of the original magazines’ text, along with illustrations of the time. They’re up to twenty Shadow doubles and Nineteen Docs.
Worth a look for fans of these two great characters.