Friday, January 27, 2023

The Shadow in Review (Book Review)

If you are a fan of The Shadow pulp magazine, you may want to seek out a copy of this mammoth phone book sized tome by John Olsen. The Shadow in Review is pretty much what you expect from the title. John read all 300+ novels of The Shadow and not only wrote a brief summary of the plots, but took extensive notes of the characters, continuity, and provided commentary for each novel. 

The Shadow was published from 1931 to 1949, initially written by Walter Gibson. Sales were strong enough to warrant the publishing company, Street & Smith, to publish from a quarterly to a monthly publication, then twice-monthly. By the mid-thirties, Gibson was assisted by Theodore Tinsely, while the novels were still credited to the fictional Maxwell Grant. Paper shortages during World War II forced the publishing company to shrink the size of the magazine from pulp to digest. Walter Gibson stopped writing the novels in 1946 over a contract dispute, so the assignment was handed over to Bruce Elliott. Elliott wrote only a small handful and those are held in low esteem by fans of the periodical.) Gibson eventually returned and the later stories started to replicate the format of the radio program.

Personally, I love the character but applying the logic of Spock, there is no way I could possibly read each and every novel in the series without sacrificing the enjoyment of other books and novels. So I queried a number of fans for a list of their top ten and amassed a stack of 40 or so for my bookshelf. Every year I read one or two novels for enjoyment. (Yes, I have the four with his arch nemesis, Khan.)

John Olsen's book is fantastic because I can read an entry a day and know what the plot is, and the bullet points, without having to read the novels. If you love The Shadow but find you won't have time to read all 300+ novels, this is an essential tome for your bookshelf.