WYNDHAM MARTYN “The Shadow’s Shadow.” Novelette. Bentley Mayne & Captain Dashwood #1. First appeared in Flynn’s Weekly, 14 May 1927. Probably never reprinted.

   Wyndham Martyn was the pen name that author William Henry Martin Hosken (1874-1963) seems to have used more often than several others. While he produced dozens of short stories for the pulps and other fiction magazines in the teens and 20s, Martyn may be more well known, if at all, for his long series of hardcover thrillers published in the UK featuring a master criminal named Anthony Trent, whose specialty was solving mysteries the police are having trouble with.

   Other than three serialized novels for Flynn’s, Trent appeared in only one pulp magazine story. The private eye in “The Shadow’s Shadow” is a young fellow named Bentley Mayne, who has obtained a fine reputation for cleverness and success for the cases he’s worked on.

   Enter steel magnate John Dawbarn, who has been trying to convince someone in Washington that his new method of processing steel is something our country’s government ought to have. Fearing that the secret may fall instead into enemy hands, Dawbarn calls on Mayne, who is happy to take the case.

   But instead of working on it himself, he assigns an associate named Captain Dashwood to act as Dawbarn’s bodyguard. Dashwood is (um) a dashing Englishman in dapper dress and a monocle, and fits in well with Dawbarn’s society-minded wife’s life style.

   After the secret plans is a master criminal known only as The Shadow (no relation to the fellow who came along later). The problem is, no one knows what he looks like. He could be anyone. Now Dashwood is competent enough, but his eye is as much on Dawbarn’s daughter Betty as on ferreting out who The Shadow might be or where he may strike next, but happily to say, both halves of the story work out well.

   [PLOT ALERT] There is a strange twist in the tale that I ordinarily wouldn’t bring up, but since it may not be easy for yous to obtain the copy of Flynn’s the story is in, I have decided to tell you about it anyway. It seems that Mayne and Dashwood are one and the same. I haven’t decided what purpose the hoax is for — he doesn’t even tell Dawbarn what’s going on — but personally I think Dawbarn is something of a dolt to not to have recognized Mayne’s alter ego almost immediately.

   But now that the impersonation has been revealed, it might explain why this was Bentley Mayne’s first and last appearance. That and the fact that at story’s end, he and Betty seem to be on their way to settling down in fine matrimonial fashion.