Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Shadow: The Veiled Prophet

The Shadow: The Veiled Prophet is the second book in volume 65 of Sanctum Books Shadow reprint series. It is paired with Gypsy Vengeance which I reviewed a few months ago.

I’ve got to say, The Veiled Prophet is one of the better Shadow stories I’ve read in the last few years. It opens with a top-notch action sequence, which could easily be imagined in terms of modern cinema. From there it quickly becomes a very tangled mystery.

Unlike many Shadow novels, the Shadow’s agents play only a minor role in this story. For the most part, the Shadow does his own investigation, sometimes in the form of Lamont Cranston, but mostly in his black hat and cloak. In these guises, he snoops around the scenes of crimes and follows after the numerous suspects, slowly unravelling the various clues and misdirections. It is one of those Shadow stories that proves that Walter Gibson (aka Maxwell Grant) really did have a talent for writing mysteries. It is perhaps unfortunate that the incredible writing schedule he followed for The Shadow (often producing a short novel every two weeks) never allowed him to really work with and develop any of the stories.

Still, it is an enjoyable ride that kept me guessing until the very end and has renewed my enthusiasm for the series.

For hardcore Shadow fans, several agents do appear in the novel, including Moe Schrevnitz, Harry Vincent, and Burbank. In fact, the novel contains a very rare example of Burbank (who runs the Shadow’s contact network) actually leaving his mysterious location and operating in the field. It is implied that several more agents appear at one point, but they are not named.

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