Review: The Shadow: Fingers of Death by Maxwell Grant ( Walter B. Gibson)

The reprint from 1977.

The original cover from the 30’s.

One by one, the city’s most prominent citizens fell prey to an ingenious and macabre series of murders.  A mysterious, pitiless agent of evil on a single-minded mission of destruction was at work- a terrible power whom hapless victims in their last living moments, come to know and dread as the Fingers of Death! 

Authorities grew more baffled as the ring of horror spread ever wider.  One man and one man alone could penetrate the veil of deadly secrecy and reveal the grim living presence behind those murderous fingers.  A man more spectral than night itself, a phantom in the dark slouch hat and flowing cloak, whose eerie laugh and of triumph sowed terror in the hears of criminals everywhere- The Shadow!

The Shadow: Fingers of Death by Walter B. Gibson under the Maxwell Grant name.  This pulp story was originally published by Street & Smith in The Shadow Magazine, March 1, 1933.  My copy is the 1977 H.B.Jove paperback, #17 in their reprint run, 144 pages.

This is another early issue of The Shadow.  It was the 25th story from the original pulp magazine run.  In the early years of The Shadow, there was heavy use of proxy characters.  The author wanted to keep The Shadow more mysterious, so we end up seeing the story progress from the proxy character’s perspective.  Normally the proxy character is one of The Shadow’s trusty agents, like Harry Vincent, but not this time.  This time around we see most of the story from Willard Saybrook, a character who just happens to be mixed up in the murder mystery.  Sadly, when the proxy character is used, we end up not seeing as much of The Shadow.  He tends to work more in the background.  About 5 years in to the series the character became much more fleshed out and author Walter Gibson began to use the proxy character method less and less. At that point we began to see the story from The Shadow’s perspective.  I personally like seeing more from The Shadow.  He IS kind of the whole reason I’m reading the book in the first place!

This story was an interesting murder mystery where millions are up for grabs.  Sprinkled with small amounts of spookiness.  Lots of suspects that kept you guessing the whole time.  Even when I figured out who the killer was, the author kept me second guessing myself.  A little slow at first, but it picked up the pace and turned out to be a pretty quick read.

In Fingers of Death, you see The Shadow use several different disguises, but none of his more famous ones, such as Lamont Cranston.  The disguises aren’t the only item The Shadow uses in his quest to catch the killer.  Later on in the series, he uses a flash light with colored lens to send messages to his agents.  In this story you see him use this method for the very first time.

This was an entertaining novel that turned out to be a pretty quick read.  The Shadow uses several methods to catch the bad guy while he works from the background.  I personally like the stories that have more of The Shadow in it, but Fingers of Death was a nice example of early Shadow writing that used more of the proxy character writing style.




2 thoughts on “Review: The Shadow: Fingers of Death by Maxwell Grant ( Walter B. Gibson)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s