Saturday, August 9, 2014

Shadow 043 - The Crime Clinic

The Crime Clinic
The Shadow 043
Shadow Magazine December 1933
by Maxwell Grant (Walter Gibson)

One of the unusual things about the pulp magazine version of the Shadow is that he acts through various surrogates.  Sometimes this is an interesting literary technique.  Other times, the story is an out-of-the-box mystery with the Shadow shoehorned in as an afterthought.  This is one of those times.

Two old chestnuts are dusted off for this one - a locked room mystery and a talking bird who holds a clue, neither of which are handled very deftly.

Most of the action is carried out by police inspector Joe Cardona and other surrogates, but the Shadow is present in every scene, as the story will constantly remind you.

The original cartoon version of the Hobbit had the annoying habit of having Bilbo take his ring off every time he spoke and then put it back on, in order to remind the audience that he's still in the scene but invisible.  The Shadow does this here, ad nausuem, and for no narrative purpose.  The story already tells us that he's sneaking around, but he actually steps out of the shadows to say "Here I am" before ducking back in, or lifts his disguise only to immediately put it back on.

This gets really bad at our denouement (spoilers)

Cordona has a shootout with our villain Jackdaw, and as the two are trading bullets the Shadow pops in, making the fatal shot from the shadows.  The narration even has to spell it out - the Shadow was the one that killed Jackdaw, he's the real hero of the story, honest.

I haven't read enough of the Shadow to see if Gibson did this a lot, but I hope this was a bad exception.

Portions of the story were made into the radio script the Red Macaw, found here.

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