Friday, 18 March 2011

Morgan Kane #37


DEAD MAN’S SHADOW
By Louis Masterson
Corgi, 1978

Originally published in Norway, 1970

Morgan Kane had been given the strangest assignment of his life, from a medic – three months in a sanatorium, or risk getting TB in his damaged lung. Kane had never been one for the quiet life, especially when the rules were ‘no tobacco, no liquor, no excitement’ – and when the room was the one Doc Holliday had died in…

But then he met up again with Gwen Arling, just as lovely as she’d been a year ago in Nicaragua and real pleased to see Kane again. And after that he came up against a marauding wolf, and a quarter-million dollar kidnapping. Kane may have had a bad lung, but he sure proved there was nothing wrong with his shooting arm…

I think anyone who has been on medication will be able to relate to Kane’s frustrations and self-pity as he’s told to keep away from all the things he enjoys about life. His relish when managing to eat forbidden food is beautifully described as is his anger at having his smuggled in whiskey discovered and confiscated. Gwen Arling’s mixed emotions at seeing Kane again are equally as well handled. (Kane first met Gwen in book 34: The Demon of Nicaragua)

It isn’t long before the always vigilant Kane begins to suspect there’s more than just a wolf prowling around outside the sanatorium. Persuading those in charge to allow him to hunt the wolf lets him investigate other suspicious activities too.

Like the previous novels in the series this is a short book, coming in at 102 pages, so it proves to be a quick read, not just due to its length but also because Louis Masterson (Kjell Hallbing) writes in a very readable style and his stories draw the reader into the plot effortlessly. The books do contain lots of action but I’d say their real strength lies in character study, particularly that of Kane where we see him emotionally scarred time and time again, and in later books see how they affect him. This book is one of the few times where Kane doesn’t add to his torments.

If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining, read then this book is worth considering. For those who follow Kane’s adventures then this is one not to miss as it continues, and develops, his relationship with Gwen Arling.

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