"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" That famous quote called listeners to radios all across the country to listen to The Shadow broadcast. The mysterious crimefighter in the slouched hat, dark cape, and red scarf was s staple on both radio and pulp magazines in the 1930s. Now, the Shadow returns in a new book from James Patterson and Brian Sitts called THE SHADOW.
When Lamont Cranston and his lovely assistant, Margo Lane, are ambushed by their fiercest enemy, Shiwan Khan, their only chance of survival is to escape into the future. When Lamont awakes a century and a half later, he finds a world that is oppressed by a power that is reminiscent of his old arch-enemy. Teaming up with Madde Gomes, a teenager with her own mysterious powers and an abundant knowledge of the legend of the Shadow, Lamont dons an identity that he's not used in 150 years. Only the Shadow can succeed in bringing down this tyrannical new world order.
Let me start with this disclaimer. I'm a huge fan of the old Shadow pulp magazines. Although the pulps were not first-class literature by any stretch of the imagination, I did love the simple escapism imbued within the pages of each story. So, when I saw this book released, I was a bit apprehensive.
In THE SHADOW, Patterson and Sitts do capture some of the magic from the original pulp magazines and intermix in some of the concepts from the old radio show. But this is definitely not your grandfather's Shadow. This version of Lamont Cranston stands apart from the pulps and radio show (which play a very minor role in the plot), at times even denouncing them as being ridiculous imitations of who he was in the 1930s. For someone who is particularly fond of the old pulps, that was hard to read. There is an essence of the pulp version of the Shadow in this book, but it is only an essence.
This is not to say that the book is bad. THE SHADOW was very entertaining in its own right. The plot was tight. The writing was what you'd expect from a novel with the Patterson name on it. The characters were enjoyable. The pacing was sometimes hit or miss. There were moments where I thought the book was stuck in neutral. But after a bit of a slow start, it picked up and the finale was worth hanging on for.
If you are looking for a book about The Shadow of the pulp magazines, look elsewhere. But, if you want a book that will help you escape your day-to-day routine for a few hours, then THE SHADOW could be your book.