BRANT HOUSE – Servants of the Skull. Secret Agent X #2. Corinth CR126, paperback, 1966. Cover art by Robert Bonfil. First appeared in Secret Agent X, November 1934. [Brant House was a house name used by several writers; in this case the author was Emile C. Tepperman.]

   The Skull’s plan is to kidnap ten heavily insured businessmen, then force [their] life insurance companies to pay for their release, rather than have them viciously murdered, X manages to take the place of a notorious safe-cracker and enter he Skull’s secret underground hideaway, but the capture of Betty Dale forces him to reveal [himself. He escapes, then returns as a kidnap victim before the Skull’s identities are revealed in turn.]

   Tremendously exciting, with the plot moving forward every minute. There are flaws, of course, if you must look for them. The Skull’s “servants” are decidedly of a poor caliber; no wonder he keeps them locked up almost as prisoners. At one time, Secret Agent X, in distress, asks the Skull if all the secret panels and the maze of passages are necessary. [Here’s what I’m thinking.] Not for a sane man, but how can a man with the Skull’s ambitions be sane?

Rating: ***

— June 1968.