The Spider Strikes (The Spider #1) (1933)
by R.T.M. Scott
Millionaire criminologist Richard Wentworth moonlights as The Spider, a vigilante who executes his opponents, leaving a spider mark on the body as a calling card. This first adventure is no origin story; The Spider has already been active long enough to make him famous and wanted by police throughout the world. Wentworth’s friend Inspector Kirkpatrick suspects him of being The Spider and is fully prepared to “send him to the death house” should he ever be able to prove it, yet they work together with mutual respect.
We also meet the rest of The Spider’s supporting cast: plucky girlfriend Nita van Sloan, trusty assistant Ram Singh, and Professor Brownlee, Wentworth’s personal Q (in the Bond sense, not the Star Trek or the crazy conspiracy sense). This story is mostly set in New York and, like many of the city-bound pulp adventures I’ve read, this one becomes an undifferentiated sequence of breathless rushing from building to building with an occasional side foray to a dock or a warehouse. The most vivid part of the story is the opening sequence aboard a transatlantic ocean liner, which is a perfect introduction to our hero. Nevertheless, there is a lot of fun in these pages, and I’m looking forward to some of the more apocalyptic tales to come.
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