Discussion:
Review: "Double Z" (The Shadow)
(too old to reply)
John Olsen
2012-11-02 07:20:33 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
DOUBLE Z was originally published in the June 1932 issue of The Shadow
Magazine. The mysterious symbol of a master crook - Double Z! It stands
for fiendish horror. It stands for a fanatic who has terrorized New York
with a series of murders - murders that are publicized in advance.
Double Z taunts the police with advance notice of upcoming murders, and
then commits them before the very eyes of the police.

They say the early stories are the best. This is a prime example. It's
an excellent story from the first year of the magazine's run. Plenty of
action with a Shadow that is nearly superhuman in his abilities. And a
plot that is tightly woven with no loopholes. It's considered to be one
of the top Shadow stories, and rightly so.

Everything starts with Judge Harvey Tolland, who disappeared fourteen
months ago. He was the first to be menaced by Double Z. He received the
first note from the hidden mastermind, warning of the judge's impending
death. He recognized the secret identity of the madman, and took the
warning to heart. Knowing he couldn't prove the identity of Double Z,
the judge went into hiding until the time he could present the
authorities with such proof.

Now, Joel Caulkins, reporter for the New York Classic known as "The Wise
Owl," has tracked down Judge Tolland. He confronts the judge in his
hotel room where he goes by the name of Joseph T. Dodd. The judge
finally breaks down and admits his identity and the reason for his
sudden disappearance over a year ago.

Judge Tolland confides the true identity of Double Z to Caulkins with
the instructions to quickly get the information into print in the paper
before he's killed. Hurriedly, Caulkins calls up the Classic and gives
the story to the copy editor. But as he is about to reveal the name
behind the hidden terror of Double Z, a shot rings out. And another. And
another. And another. When the stunned editor sends the police to
investigate, Caulkins is found dead. And Judge Harvey Tolland is nowhere
to be found. Double Z has struck again!

There are more murders to come! There's the strange death of millionaire
banker Philip Farmington. Strange because of an unusual oriental poison
used to dispatch him. And crime boss Arnold Bodine is killed, despite a
half dozen bodyguards hired to protect him. Each of these murders is
committed by Double Z. And each murder is preceded by a note sent to the
police notifying them of the upcoming crime. A note signed by a strange
symbol: a Double Z!

Just who is this strange character known as Double Z? Detective Joe
Cardona is stumped. His boss, Acting Inspector Fennimann, is putting the
pressure on poor old Joe to produce results. But there's just no clues
to be had. This sounds like a job for The Shadow! And, yes, The Shadow
is involved. In fact, he's been secretly involved for some time, without
the knowledge of the authorities. It's going to take the keen mind of
The Shadow to penetrate the secret identity of the sinister figure only
known as Double Z.

This story introduces several new characters. The most important is that
of Rutledge Mann, The Shadow's contact man. Previously, Claude Fellows
had maintained a similar role for The Shadow. But he was killed six
months earlier, and The Shadow needs a replacement. Mann has been
running an investment firm, but has fallen on hard times. He's about to
loose his business. He's penniless, and stares at his gun, intending...
well, you know. Then, out of the darkness, steps The Shadow. He offers
Mann a new life. A life with honor. In return, The Shadow demands
obedience. Full obedience. And thus, as we know, begins a long and
faithful relationship as Rutledge Mann begins to act as contact and
information gatherer for The Shadow.

We get to see him create reports for his master for the very first time.
We witness his first visit to the rundown office on Twenty-third Street,
with the name B. Jonas painted on the glass window. Oh, and his own
office address, for trivia fans: 909 Badger Building, New York. It was
only mentioned in the next two issues, and then never specified again.

Clyde Burke, formerly a reporter with the defunct Evening Clarion, is
now handling special assignments for the tabloid Classic. In this story,
he's given the assignment to replace the murdered reporter Joel Caulkins
and take over the crime column of "The Wise Owl." At the end of the
story he's still writing the Wise Owl column. But the crime column was
never mentioned again in any other story, so apparently Burke lost the
column to someone else. But as we know, he continued as crime reporter
for the Classic until the end of the magazine series in 1949.

A minor character introduced here is Acting Inspector Fennimann, who
temporarily takes the place of Inspector Timothy Klein. He doesn't
really do much, except put pressure on Cardona to produce results. Klein
returns later in the story and Fennimann fades away.

This was only the eleventh story in the magazine series, and as was
typical in these early stories, mention is made of The Shadow's weekly
radio broadcasts. Even though The Shadow has seemingly dropped out of
sight at the beginning of our story, the weekly broadcasts are going
along on schedule. That brings up the conjecture that perhaps some other
man has taken The Shadow's place in the broadcast booth. Or perhaps The
Shadow, crime detector, is a separate person from The Shadow, radio
broadcaster. Interesting how the magazine sought to meld with the radio
show in these early magazine stories.

In this story, Cliff Marsland's wife is mentioned. Yes, Cliff has a
wife, although it's often forgotten! This is one of the few stories to
mention her. "Darling," he says to his wife at the beginning of the
story, "I think it would be a good idea for you to take that Florida
trip with your father." She does, and that's the last we ever see of
her. Makes one wonder why Walter Gibson even gave him a wife to begin with.

And in case you're curious, we're told that Marsland and the misses live
in New Jersey. After this story, it was rarely, if ever, specified where
Cliff lived.

In this story, The Shadow appears in disguise as Lamont Cranston and
also in a second disguise as secret service man Terry Blake. Cranston is
a very common disguise for The Shadow. Terry Blake, on the other hand,
is a one-time disguise. He never used it again in any magazine story.
Too bad, because it is a quite effective one. And, in one final quick
disguise, he appears as an unnamed policeman.

In these stories, we see that The Shadow is a master of many languages.
Adding to The Shadow's list of languages, this story indicates he speaks
fluent Italian. Whew, makes you wonder if there's any language he
doesn't know!

Other familiar characters appearing in this story are Burbank and Harry
Vincent. Burbank, it should be pointed out, has pretty much the same job
as Rutledge Mann. Burbank is the night sentinel; Mann works days. And
that's it for the regular gang. Police Commissioner Ralph Weston hadn't
been introduced into the series yet, nor had cabbie Moe Shrevnitz, so
naturally no mention is made of them.

But speaking of taxi drivers, there is an agent of The Shadow who drives
a hack in this story. Rutledge Mann is put in a taxi by The Shadow. "He
realized that the man at the wheel must also be in the employ of this
stranger in black." And this isn't Moe. So it would seem that before Moe
came along, The Shadow had a different agent who was his taxi driver...
an unnamed agent who will remain a footnote in Shadow history.

This story gives us another enjoyable visit to Chinatown. There, The
Shadow comes up against the old, bespectacled Mongolian Loy Rook. And
once in Rook's hidden lair, he must surmount tremendous odds as he
encounters several insidious death traps. There are hidden passageways,
sliding bookcases, poison gasses, and a trapdoor that reveals a
three-story-deep pit lined with sharp-pointed metal spikes on the
bottom. All these things The Shadow must overcome in order to rescue his
agents and defeat the wily Loy Rook. And defeat them he does, in a most
entertaining style.

We get mentions of Black Pete's, a notorious underground dive that
appeared four months later in "The Ghost Makers." And there's also
mention of The Green Mouse, a similar establishment of low-repute. It's
the only time it was ever mentioned, though.

This is one of those stories that even a casual Shadow reader should
make sure to read. It's fun; it's exciting; it's definitely worth your
while!

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/
J
2012-11-10 14:06:19 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Thanks for posting these reviews. It's interesting to read about the
history of this series, and without them, the site would have curled
up and died long ago.
John Olsen
2012-11-10 19:59:48 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Glad you're enjoying the reviews. I appreciate the feedback. I've read
all 325 Shadow pulp mysteries and am on my second time through them.
Gives me a bit of perspective...

John
Post by J
Thanks for posting these reviews. It's interesting to read about the
history of this series, and without them, the site would have curled
up and died long ago.
--
"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/
J
2012-11-11 18:34:42 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Glad you're enjoying the reviews.  I appreciate the feedback.  I've read
all 325 Shadow pulp mysteries and am on my second time through them.
Gives me a bit of perspective...
John
Wow. The first Shadow books I read were the Belmont continuations (by
Dennuis Lynds writing as "Maxwell Grant") in the 1960s. Then I read
the originals when Bantam and Pyramid did their paperbacks. I've been
getting all the broadcast episodes as Radio Spirits issues them, and
now the Nostalgia/Sanctum reprints.
John Olsen
2012-11-11 20:35:15 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by J
Wow. The first Shadow books I read were the Belmont continuations (by
Dennuis Lynds writing as "Maxwell Grant") in the 1960s.
Wow! Those are the ones I haven't read. Someday I'll sit down and read
them too, but right now I want to focus on the stories that originally
appeared in the magazine. I just know enough about the Dennis Lynds
books to know that they are a bit different... secret-agent style.

As for the radio shows, I'm glad Radio Spirits released all of the shows
that turned up a few years ago. But now that they've all been released,
I have nothing new to look forward to. I really love the radio shows!

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/
Joe Pfeiffer
2012-11-12 00:04:49 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John Olsen
Post by J
Wow. The first Shadow books I read were the Belmont continuations (by
Dennuis Lynds writing as "Maxwell Grant") in the 1960s.
Wow! Those are the ones I haven't read. Someday I'll sit down and
read them too, but right now I want to focus on the stories that
originally appeared in the magazine. I just know enough about the
Dennis Lynds books to know that they are a bit
different... secret-agent style.
As for the radio shows, I'm glad Radio Spirits released all of the
shows that turned up a few years ago. But now that they've all been
released, I have nothing new to look forward to. I really love the
radio shows!
I find that interesting -- for me the pulp stories, especially the early
ones, are where the fun is. The radio shows seem really, really weak to
me.
John Olsen
2012-11-12 02:28:17 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Joe Pfeiffer
I find that interesting -- for me the pulp stories, especially the early
ones, are where the fun is. The radio shows seem really, really weak to
me.
I love apple pie and I also love old movies. They are two separate
things and I can love them both. And so it is with The Shadow's two
different incarnations. I love them both with no contradiction because
they are so completely different.

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/
Kent Allard
2012-11-12 21:02:00 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John Olsen
As for the radio shows, I'm glad Radio Spirits released all of the shows
that turned up a few years ago. But now that they've all been released,
I have nothing new to look forward to. I really love the radio shows!
Radio Spirits released all of the shows? I was under the impression that many
(like literally a hundred of them) were missing for all time.

And then there's the original series where the Shadow just read stories from
Street and Smith's magazines.
J
2012-11-12 23:26:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Kent Allard
Radio Spirits released all of the shows? I was under the impression that many
(like literally a hundred of them) were missing for all time.
I *think* he meant that they have now added the shows that were found
over the last few years to those that have been known. Who knows what
may still turn up?
John Olsen
2012-11-14 04:47:38 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Kent Allard
Post by John Olsen
As for the radio shows, I'm glad Radio Spirits released all of the shows
that turned up a few years ago. But now that they've all been released,
I have nothing new to look forward to. I really love the radio shows!
Radio Spirits released all of the shows? I was under the impression that many
(like literally a hundred of them) were missing for all time.
I think it was maybe 8-10 years ago that a bunch of Shadow transcription
discs turned up. And it took a while for them all to finally be
released, but they were. That's the ones I was referring to. That's
what I meant when I said "all of the shows that turned up a few years ago."

As I heard the story, the daughter of an advertising executive at
Goodrich had them, and sold them for something over $5000. They
included the early summer season of Goodrich sponsored shows and many of
the shows from the following fall that were syndicated the following
summer, with Goodrich commercials replacing the Blue Coal commercials.

After being shopped around for over a year, they were finally purchased
by Terry Salomonson. You can see his list at
http://www.audio-classics.com/listtheshadow.html. Look for the titles
with the asterisks.

Terry worked with Radio Spirits to get the shows released, since RS have
licensed the audio rights from Conde Nast, and he couldn't have legally
released them on his own. And now all of those previously-lost shows
have been released.

Kinda sad, in that there are no new "finds" known. I live in the hope
that someone will turn up a few more of the old recordings.

Of the 600-plus original broadcasts of The Shadow, a little over 200
have survived in recorded form. So there's lots more to find. And
thus, I keep hoping.

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/
J
2012-11-15 12:13:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by John Olsen
Of the 600-plus original broadcasts of The Shadow, a little over 200
have survived in recorded form.  So there's lots more to find.  And
thus, I keep hoping.
I did a quick count of the RS sets I have, and come up with 227 shows,
though some may be duplicated between the earliest sets and the latest
remasterings.

Loading...