Salt and shadows: this week’s reading

I really enjoyed Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and The Basque History of the World but I was much less impressed with SALT: A World History. While the material is interesting — salt’s role in cooking around the world, in trade and researches into the chemistry of salt — it feels randomly jumbled together with no structure )one chapter deals with salted fish around the world but also throws in a list of tourist towns that have salt-making industries). Another problem is that just listing the salt making methods in country after country gets repetitious, as there’s little difference between salt mines in location A and B except the names (I had a similar problem with Malcolm Gaskill’s Witchfinders). Still, a useful resource if I ever need information on the topic for a story.

HIDDEN DEATH was a 1932 Shadow novel reprinted by Bantam Books in the 1960s; not having read that set of reprints (which ran to seven books in contrast to the dozens of Doc Savage pulps Bantam reissued) in years, I thought I’d revisit them. In this one, Detective Cardona investigates a series of death notes mailed to the police to announce corresponding murders, accompanied by a criminologist friend of new police Commissioner Weston. Oh, and under no circumstances are Cardona’s reports to include any mention of that urban legend the Shadow …

This is a solid mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed, though the Shadow’s first appearance is as confusing now as it was then. He’s literally seen as a Shadow moving across a hotel lobby and to the best of my knowledge he didn’t have any actual shadow-power other than being stealthy. Was author Walter Gibson trying to make him more shadowy, or what?

#SFWApro. Cover by George Rozen, all rights remain with current holder.

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