(Review contains spoilers.)
“So I’m still reading those The Shadow stories. They’re quite good. There’s this one that’s very good.
“It starts out with this guy from Scotland Yard tailing the guy on a train and just as he’s about to close in, he finds the guy is dead. So they pick up the guy who killed him going across the Channel and just as they’re about to close in on him they find him dead, he’s been poisoned. So they go along with the French Gendarmes and chase after the guy that got him and when they catch up with him he’s been killed, too. And then they’re looking for the fourth guy and they can’t find him because he is Zemba, the criminal mastermind.
“So The Shadow is after Zemba, and then there’s this French detective guy after him too and so it goes for a while and it’s actually quite clever. And then there’s the scene at the end when everyone’s in a room pointing guns at each other and The Shadow–or the guy we think is The Shadow, because his agents Harry Vincent and Cliff Marsland are following him around–says, ‘well, I can’t take any of the credit, the one who actually tracked down Zemba is you,’ and he points to the French detective guy. But then that guy pulls out his gun on them and says, ‘Well, haha, I’m actually Zemba.’ And then the guy we think is Zemba comes out of the cellar and he’s got a hat and cloak on and he starts to laugh and it’s actually The Shadow.”
“Did you have clues?”
“Yes, actually, it’s just clever enough to be clever. I went back and read through it. There are some little things that the author put in to show he knew what was going on. It’s not super fancy or intricate or anything, it’s just clever enough to be clever. It’s just the amount of details you need for the amount of story that’s there. These are not very complicated stories.”
“The Shadow was the detective?”
“No, Zemba was impersonating the French detective guy. That guy was impersonating The Shadow. He was using The Shadow’s cover identity and The Shadow’s agents thought he was The Shadow. The Shadow was impersonating Zemba and making Zemba’s lieutenants do all the work for him. So he could find the real Zemba. And the stolen war plans, or whatever.”
“Oh. So do they catch Zemba?”
“Well, he catches a bullet.”
“I see. These were primitive times. But that sounds like a good trick if the writer sprinkled enough clues throughout the story so that the audience can figure it out as they go. There should not be one big surprise all at the end. That’s a very cheap trick, if all the writer wants to do is surprise you and they couldn’t figure out how to do it without hiding stuff from the reader.”
“Yeah, but that didn’t happen here. It’s very good. It impressed me enough to go back and re-read over to see if he was cheating, but he wasn’t. These books are very good! This is like, number 94 and I’m on number 100 or so. They’re all a solid 7/10 but some of them are 8 or 9 out of 10 and this one is a 10/10. You should try it.”
“It sounds very mysterious and violent. I might get scared.”