Review: The Shadow # 99: Mardi Gras Mystery and City of Fear by Walter B. Gibson and Theodore Tinsley Writing as Maxwell Grant

The Shadow #99: Mardi Gras Mystery by Walter B. Gibson and City of Fear by Theodore Tinsley. Mardi Gras Mystery was originally written for The Shadow Magazine in September 1935 by Street & Smith Publications. City of Fear was originally written in October 1940 by Street & Smith Publications. Interlude is written by Will Murray in 2015. The Many Faces of The Shadow was written by Anthony Tollin, in 2006 for Alter-Ego Magazine, issue 62. The Shadow #99 was published by Sanctum Books, August 2015.

The Shadow # 99 starts out with a reprint of the pulp story Mardi Gras Mystery written by Walter B. Gibson. A curious mystery arrives on the last day of carnival. A masked woman hands Andrew an ebony locked box and a key. Who is this masked girl and why did she hand Andrew this box? When he gets home and opens the box, he finds that it contains 100,000 dollars! There had to be some sort of mistake? Crime appears to be brewing in New Orleans. Lesser criminals were working on a scheme. Through these unsuspecting minions, The Shadow would learn the game in which they figured. More than that, he would find the crooked master whom they served.

When Walter writes a story for The Shadow, you know it’s going to be filled with little clues and twist and turns. He had a real mind for puzzles and mystique, which always kept you guessing. You see The Shadow use several different disguises in this story, and the only agent of his to help out is Harry Vincent, who plays a pretty big roll throughout the story. The over all story was entertaining and it did have me stumped on what was going on. This story did feel a little confusing towards the end when you found out exactly what the criminals were doing. It felt like a very convoluted set up for the criminals to organize and then try to pull off… The explanation was a little bit hazy and I didn’t totally understand why the mastermind thought this was going to work. Kinda felt like Walter way over thought the logic side of this story. Even with the ending being kind of off, it was an enjoyable story.

After Mardi Gras Mystery, there is a brief interlude written by Will Murray. Basically he tells all about what this issue is all about. This was the Halloween edition for 2015 and it’s all about dressing up. He talks a little bit about how both stories have lots of disguises being used by good guys and bad guys. Will also talks about Walter and The Shadow’s visiting New Orleans. I always enjoy the interludes and finding out some behind the scenes sort of information about the pulp stories and their writers.

The second story in #99 is City of Fear by Theodore Tinsley. You can always spot The Shadow stories by Theodore even though his name is hidden under the Maxwell Grant title. Theodore is much more pulpishly violent and dark. You don’t just have someone get shot. Instead it’s described as a bullet ripping through their cheek and exploding out the back of the man’s head leaving a hole the size of a fist. He gets very descriptive. Also, The Shadow and his agents get much more injured, beat up, and or kidnapped more often then when Walter writes one of stories. Another dead give away is when a woman gets killed. Walter pretty much never kills a woman, even if they are the bad guy. Theodore had no problem gunning down defenseless women.

In City of Fear, a city in mid-west has a mysterious murder and a reported sighting of The Shadow at the scene of the crime. It’s a fake Shadow, though, and the real Shadow travels out west to find out what is going on. He runs in to a master of disguise that rivals his own abilities! This was a very fast paced story that zipped through so much action and violence it could make your head spin. At the end you have great chase scene. Theodore’s work is not as tight as Walter’s when it comes to explaining things. There were several things that happened that kind of seemed like they were a big deal because they were mentioned several times, but we get no clear conclusion or explanation at all about how or why it happened. It’s one of those things where if you just go along with all the action, and don’t stop to think about if it makes sense, and you will be fine.

The Shadow # 99 ends with a re-print of an article titled The Many Faces of The Shadow by Anthony Tollin. It was originally published in the #62 issue of Alter-Ego magazine in 2006. It is a very neat look at the disguises and IDs The Shadow has used throughout his pulp career. It goes in to details about the few times that The Shadow and the real Lamont Cranston met face to face. 😮 Anthony also brought up how during WW2 there was a paper shortage and that lead to pulps having to cut down on their content. This effected The Shadow by not using as much of his different disguises. It was a very interesting article.

I really enjoyed reading #99. Both stories were very entertaining even though they had a few minor flaws. Both the interlude and the article at the end of the book, The Many Faces of The Shadow, were very fascinating as it told some behind the scenes information about The Shadow pulp.

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