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Review: "Mardi Gras Mystery" (The Shadow)
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John Olsen
2013-11-15 08:12:08 UTC
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MARDI GRAS MYSTERY was published in the September 1, 1935 issue of The
Shadow Magazine. From the colorful, exciting, traditional festivities of
the Mardi Gras arises a baffling mystery for The Shadow to solve.

It's a fun Shadow mystery, but it suffers from some plotting issues. I
liked the locations and the puzzling mystery. But when all is explained,
I found the explanation to be unlikely, in the extreme. Gangsters have
gone to strange and convoluted lengths to accomplish something that
could have been done so much easier in a straightforward manner. But, of
course, then we would have had no story... or at least a much
abbreviated one. So the end result is that I felt a bit cheated by the
story. It was a fun ride, but in the end I was let down.

Our story opens during Mardi Gras as a young man costumed as a French
colonial gentleman stolls along the Rue Royale. Beneath the mask, the
young man is Andrew Blouchet, last of an old Louisiana family. Young
Andrew lives on a small inheritance, but finds it harder and harder to
make ends meet. But all that is about to change. And change in a most
mysterious way!

As he passes Gallion's restaurant, Blouchet encounters another masked
reveler. She wears a short-skirted ballet dress. He doesn't know who she
is, but is drawn by her magnetic beauty. She comes up to him holding a
flat, black box that glistens with polish. The corners and hinges are of
silver. She hands him the box, telling him, "Here is the box. Keep it
hidden until you are alone."

Young Blouchet is understandably confused. He denies any knowledge of
the box or its ownership, but the young lady insists. She hands him a
small silver key, oddly shaped and curious in design. She tells him he
will understand all when he opens the box. But the box must be opened
secretly in private. Before he can object further, she mingles with the
Mardi Gras crowd and disappears.

His interest piqued, Andrew Blouchet slides the mystery box beneath his
cloak and makes his way back to his studio in the quaint French Quarter.
There he opens the box and finds to his surprise that it contains one
hundred thousand dollars in various demonination bills. And that is all.
There is no note of explanation. Only the strange stack of bank notes.
Fifties. One hundreds. Five hundreds! And even one thousand dollar bills!

He confides in his wealthy friend Carl Randon. Randon, another native of
New Orleans, advises him to spend the money. There is no link to the
owner of the box. And since it was given to Blouchet, it certainly is
his to now spend. But young Blouchet isn't so sure. And it's a good
thing, too, because before he knows it, his apartment is raided by a
gang of cutthroats seeking the money. He fights them off, only to find
that the money as disappeared. It has been taken... by The Shadow!

Yes, The Shadow is in New Orleans, and enters this strange case. He is
assisted by his long-time agent Harry Vincent. Harry was previously sent
to New Orleans to locate Pierre Trebelon who had recently left New York.
Trebelon was an international swindler who had left for Louisiana, with
Harry following at The Shadow's order. Now The Shadow has entered New
Orleans to see what connection there might be between the swindler
Trebelon and the money given to Andrew Blouchet.

The money seems to be the key. Who is it from? What is it for? Why was
young Blouchet chosen to receive it? What will he do with it? Is the
money counterfeit? Is it legal tender? Is it blackmail money? Blood
money? And who was the mystery woman who handed young Andrew the strange
box of money? What part does she play? Will Andrew find her? Is he
falling in love? Is she part of the sinister plot? Is this a fatal
attraction? Or will their budding love blossom beneath the evil spell of
the mystery cash? Young Andrew Blouchet is quickly drawn into a strange
web of intrigue, excitement, and murder; one from which only The Shadow
can extricate him!

The Shadow and Harry Vincent work alone in this story. No other agents
appear or are mentioned. The side of the law is represented by
Lieutenant Wayson of the New Orleans police force. Wayson is a police
instructor and small-arms expert who worked with The Shadow in a
previous adventure, "Cyro" published in December 15, 1934. These are the
only two appearances Wayson ever made in the magazine stories.

The Shadow appears in several disguises in this story. His oft-used
disguise as Lamont Cranston serves him well on several occasions. But he
also appears as an artist, Monsieur Duvale, and as Justin Oswood, a
big-time New York theatrical producer. And also Pierre Treblon, a gang
member who looks to better himself. And of course he appears in his most
famous garb of black: the cloak, slouch hat and gloves.

One note of interest, we are told that Harry Vincent is an opera buff.
It's just a casual remark, but one that was new to me. I'd never before
heard that opera was one of his diversions. And so we learn a little bit
more about The Shadow's number-one agent!

There is color and romance in this adventure mystery; there danger and
crime. Crime is pending in New Orleans, betrayed only through surface
indications which The Shadow alone had detected. Only the superhand of
The Shadow can bring it to a smashing finish. So read the story, but be
aware that the ending will undoubtedly leave you a bit disappointed and
unfulfilled.

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
2013-11-16 04:54:13 UTC
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extreme. Gangsters have gone to strange and convoluted lengths to
accomplish something that could have been done so much easier in a
straightforward manner. But, of course, then we would have had no
story... or at least a much abbreviated one.
This seems to describe a *lot* of the Shadow stories!
John Olsen
2013-11-24 07:33:23 UTC
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Post by Joe Pfeiffer
extreme. Gangsters have gone to strange and convoluted lengths to
accomplish something that could have been done so much easier in a
straightforward manner. But, of course, then we would have had no
story... or at least a much abbreviated one.
This seems to describe a *lot* of the Shadow stories!
That seems to describe a lot of pulp stories in general! Doc Savage and
the Spider come to mind. Ah, but that's why we love pulp...

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/
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