J. ALLAN DUNN “In the Grip of the Griffin.” Novelette. Gordon Manning vs. the Griffin #30. First published in Detective Fiction Weekly, May 18, 1935. Reprinted in In the Grip of the Griffin: The Complete Battles of Gordon Manning & The Griffin, Volume 3 (Altus Press, 2015).

   The first of this long saga of 31 stories was, I believe, “The Crime Master,” which appeared in the November 30, 1929, issue of Detective Fiction Weekly. IN this and stories yet to come, Gordon Manning remained continually on the trail of the notorious madman and supervillain known only as the Griffin, his real identity unknown.

   Readers of “In the Grip of the Griffin” were treated to more of same — capture, escape, capture again, rescue, and so on — but what they didn’t realize it at the time, but there was but one more to go: “The Seventh Griffin” (DFW, Oct 5, 1935). I haven’t read that one, but I have been told that the series did have a finale, and I kind of hope it was a good one.

   The Griffin was the key reason why the series lasted as long as it did. It is the evil villain who attracts readers, not the mild-mannered adventurer (in this case Gordon Manning) whose sworn duty is to bring the mad killere to well-deserved justice. (Who remembers the fellow who chased Fu Manchu all around the globe, back in the day? Almost nobody.)

   In this case the Griffin sends one of his henchmen to break into Manning’s home — object: eliminate him — not knowing that Manning is ready and waiting for such a contingency. Once the tables are turned, however — and I hope I’m not revealing too much — the tables are turned again, with Manning bands in the hands of the Griffin. And in what better place to be held captive than a mausoleum located below an abandoned cemetery.

   All ends well for Manning, though, have no doubts about that. Narrow escapes in these kinds of stories are only to be expected. On the other hand, the Griffin is shot and wounded as he makes his own escape one more time. You shouldn’t expect a lot of characterization in stories such as this one, and in fact, there isn’t any at all. But they are in fact a lot of fun to read. Not too many at once, though!