Saturday, May 3, 2014

Secret Agent X - Monarch of Murder

Thanks to more pulps becoming available on eReaders, most of us not born in the early decades of the 20th century have a second chance at reading some of the old pulp heroes adventures. When I was a kid I could buy paperback reissues of Doc Savage and The Shadow and The Avenger, but that was about it. I didn't know a thing about other heroes like The Phantom Detective or Secret Agent X.

August 1935

I've now read two novels featuring The Phantom Detective and will be getting around to writing about them soon. But most recently I got to read Monarch of Murder, a Secret Agent X novel by Paul Chadwick under the name Brant House. I thought the story was a blast. It was my first introduction to Secret Agent X, thanks to Altus Press making these adventures available again.

This particular caper involves Agent X tracking down a master criminal named Dr. Marko. Dr. Marko is on is way to the United States disguised as a passenger in an ocean liner from Europe. Once Agent X manages to sneak on board the ship all the fun begins. Dr. Marko has a nasty way of murdering his victims by turning them into crumbling skeletons. He refers to this murder method as "dusty death" and enjoys zapping the dusty death on just about anyone who interferes with his dastardly plans. Agent X is no sooner on the ship when he's rescuing a raven-haired dame in an emerald gown from getting pitched overboard by a hooded scar-faced killer. Our raven-haired beauty is Carlotta Rand, who is personal assistant to Colonel Borden. Colonel Borden is returning to the states with some top secret documents that may or may not have something to do with the nefarious plans of Dr. Marko. Carlotta Rand seems to have a penchant for attracting low characters of dubious motives, much to Colonel Borden's dismay. Could one of these passengers be Dr. Marko. Well, of course, and it's up to Agent X to find out! Unfortunately, Dr. Marko is as much a genius of disguise as Agent X is, so most of the fun for "X" will be trying to capture Dr. Marko while avoiding blame for all the nasty murders going down. Once the ocean liner reaches New York, Agent X can utilize his secret hideouts, and his team of assistants, including the lovely Betty Dale, girl reporter!

My favorite style of pulp adventures are the crime stories that have heavy doses of horror and science fiction elements to them. Or, what's known as "weird menace" to aficionados. Judging by this Secret Agent X adventure, it seems I won't be disappointed.

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