Created by John H. Knox
The son of a preacher man, and probably the most successful pulp writer to ever come out of Abilene, Texas, John H. Knox specialized in both weird menace and crime & detective stories… and sometimes a combination of both.
Like “Dead Man’s Shadow,” which appeared in the December 1934 issue of Terror Tales. It’s full of the usual stuff: a creaky old mansion located on the Gulf Coast, a gathering of suspicious characters who could all be suspects (or victims), all cooling their heels waiting for Giles Murdock, a rich old coot, to die keel over so they can start bickering over his fortune.
One of the more nervous potential heirs hires PETER PROCTOR, a young private eye (“square-jawed, with an intelligent face”) from the San Antonio-based Lone Star Detective Agency, because he suspects one of the other guests is trying to murder him.
It’s no lost classic, the identification of the culprit is no big surprise and it gets a tad sappy at the end, but Knox keeps things moving along, conjuring up a decent amount of unsettling dread on the way to the payoff.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
One of the lost masters of the weird tale, John H. Knox is mostly known for the astonishing amount of horror and supernatural fiction he churned out in the 30s for the pulps, but later on, he was possibly even more prolific, regularly contributing to Dime Mystery, Detective Fiction Weekly, Detective Story Magazine, Thrilling Detective and others.
- “Dead Man’s Shadow” (December 1934, Terror Tales)
- Hands Out of Hell (2016) | Buy this book
The third of several volumes collecting the best of Knox’s weird fiction, including “Dead Man’s Shadow.” Introduction by John Pelan.