Discussion:
Review: "Murder in White" (The Shadow)
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John Olsen
2014-11-14 18:32:54 UTC
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MURDER IN WHITE was published in the February-March 1947 issue of The
Shadow Magazine. It's the white of a hospital. The Rabout Memorial
Hospital, where murder has taken place. And more murder yet awaits.

ELLIOTT WARNING!!! This was the eighth of Bruce Elliott's Shadow novels.
He'd go on to do seven more before his infamous reign would be over and
Walter Gibson would return to authoring the mysteries. Elliott is
probably best known for writing several Shadow novels in which The
Shadow never appeared. This is one of them. Lamont Cranston appears in
this story, and no other incarnation of The Shadow appears. And yet they
let this run as the lead story in The Shadow Magazine... (sigh...)

Elliott was an OK mystery writer. He was just a bad Shadow writer. He
completely ignored the characters that had been established for so many
years. He may have occasionally used their names, but they acted nothing
like they should have. And he didn't even try to match the dark tone of
the originals. The plots were nothing like Walter Gibson had been
writing since 1931. Instead, they were murder puzzles that the
protagonist exposes in excruciating detail at the story's end.

As I've mentioned before, many of Elliott's Shadow stories had the feel
of some mystery novels that Elliott had written in earlier years and had
been unsold... then recycled when he was hired to write for The Shadow.
This story, especially. I can easily see him taking some old story and
changing the names of the characters to match Lamont Cranston and
Commissioner Weston. Then throw in a single line that says "Once again,
The Shadow knew!" And, hey, you've got yourself a Shadow pulp story!

As to the plot, let's keep it brief. Thomas Melltin, prominent
industrialist, died in Rabout Memorial Hospital. He went in for a simple
operation; there should have been no complications. So Dr. Arnold Bennit
is being accused of malpractice.

Lamont Cranston agrees to help out, and fakes a broken arm to enter the
hospital under the assumed name of Larry Crimmins. Once he's on the
inside, he can investigate. But he can't investigate as The Shadow,
because everything's white and the lights are never turned off. He can't
blend into the darkness. There is no darkness! And that's the
explanation we're given why The Shadow never appears. Lame.

So Cranston wanders around the hospital, his arm in a cast, looking for
clues. Soon, another man dies. Francis Jolas, a stock promoter, dies in
the hospital of complications from alcohol poisoning. And it turns out
there is a connection between Jolas, Thomas Melltin, the previous
casualty, and Dr. Arnold Bennit. They all used to be partners in a
mining operation. Now Dr. Bennit's the only one left.

Lamont Cranston must work to clear Dr. Bennit. But is he really as
innocent as he claims? Who else is involved? And how are these
"accidents" being intentionally accomplished? Cranston whips out the
solution in amazingly short order. Or "mercifully" short order, as it
were. This story is mercifully short at under 19,000 words. Walter
Gibson's Shadow novels were usually in the mid-forty thousands.

You won't get many insights into The Shadow or the cast of regular
characters by reading this story. That's because so few are present.
Commissioner Weston appears, representing the law. And Moe Shrevnitz
appears. Harry Vincent and Burbank make very brief token appearances.
Moe is only referred to as "Shrevvie" and Burbank runs a telephone
answering service. Yes, this is definitely a Bruce Elliott story. Not
anything like The Shadow pulp mysteries we know and love.

The one tidbit of information that we do find here, is that Cranston
complains that Commissioner Weston is the worst hypochondriac in the
world. "Tell him three symptoms and the following day he thinks he has
the disease." Weston, of course, denies it: "I just am not a well man,
that's all!" In Gibson's novels, by contrast, Weston was always quite
robust. This is just another hint that the story was originally written
with other non-Shadow characters in mind. Oh well, chalk it up to Bruce
Elliott again...

The original title of this story, when submitted to Street & Smith, was
"Dead Wrong." The editors changed it. Perhaps it was because they
recognized how close to the truth was that original title. This story is
"Dead Wrong" in so many ways. As a Shadow mystery novel, it's Dead
Wrong. Wrong... wrong... wrong!

Now you can go strike your thumb with a hammer... or you can read this
"Shadow" pulp story. Personally, I think the hammer option would cause
you less pain.

John
--
"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
The wonderful old pulp mystery stories are all reviewed at:

http://home.comcast.net/~deshadow/
Chuck
2014-11-15 14:58:18 UTC
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Post by John Olsen
MURDER IN WHITE was published in the February-March 1947 issue of The
Shadow Magazine. It's the white of a hospital. The Rabout Memorial
Hospital, where murder has taken place. And more murder yet awaits.
ELLIOTT WARNING!!! This was the eighth of Bruce Elliott's Shadow novels.
He'd go on to do seven more before his infamous reign would be over and
Walter Gibson would return to authoring the mysteries. Elliott is probably
best known for writing several Shadow novels in which The Shadow never
appeared. This is one of them. Lamont Cranston appears in this story, and
no other incarnation of The Shadow appears. And yet they let this run as
the lead story in The Shadow Magazine... (sigh...)
Your reviews makes me want to try an Elliott. Maybe I am a masochist.
Since I doubt that I could endure more than one (you always willingly take
one for the team, I can't) which title is the best and which is the worst?
Then I only have to decide if I want to read the best of the worst or the
worst of the worst.

Chuck
John Olsen
2014-11-15 19:21:26 UTC
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Post by Chuck
which title is the best and which is the
worst? Then I only have to decide if I want to read the best of the
worst or the worst of the worst.
There are those who would say that Bruce Elliott's final Shadow story,
"Reign of Terror" was his best. I'm not saying that. But I've heard
others make the claim.

As for his worst Shadow story... well that's like asking which is worse:
driving a spike through your third finger or your second finger? Both
are pretty undesirable. But don't think it get's much worse than
"Murder in White."

The guy doesn't even have a grasp of how Parkinson Disease works. (It's
a function of old age and hardening arteries???)

Enjoy! (What am I saying!!!)

John
--
"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
The wonderful old pulp mystery stories are all reviewed at:

http://home.comcast.net/~deshadow/
Chuck
2014-11-15 21:43:35 UTC
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Post by John Olsen
Post by Chuck
which title is the best and which is the
worst? Then I only have to decide if I want to read the best of the
worst or the worst of the worst.
There are those who would say that Bruce Elliott's final Shadow story,
"Reign of Terror" was his best. I'm not saying that. But I've heard
others make the claim.
driving a spike through your third finger or your second finger? Both
are pretty undesirable. But don't think it get's much worse than
"Murder in White."
The guy doesn't even have a grasp of how Parkinson Disease works. (It's
a function of old age and hardening arteries???)
Enjoy! (What am I saying!!!)
John
Thanks. Whatever happens, I won't blame you.

Chuck

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