Fear stalked the corridors and offices on Capitol Hill, for it was from the ranks of the mighty—the rulers and lawmakers of America—that the Silver Assassins sought their victims! Singly, in pairs and in numbered groups they died, laying down their lives for their country—while panic spread, and the Spider, alone aware of the terrific catastrophe which impended, fought through black, bodiless shadows to reach and destroy the menace which festered underground!
“Reign of the Silver Terror” is the twelfth Spider novel and was published originally in September 1934.
(Background: The US has devalued its gold standard in 1932 when the relative value of a dollar went from $20/ounce to $35/ounce. In early 1934, the Treasury had centralized the nation’s gold supply. So the gold standard was greatly in the news. Up to then, silver had been a secondary backup metal to gold, at times even included with gold as a standard for currency, but changes in the relative value of silver and gold made that impractical.)
The Spider links the murder, possible bribery, and offspring-kidnappings of politicians in Washington DC and silver-mine disasters in the west. In the story, the scam is to have silver become a part of the standard again for money, thereby driving up its value. President Roosevelt resists this proposal for fear that it will cause hyperinflation. The attacks on politicians and silver mines are to reverse his decision, thereby allowing the real Silver King and his syndicate to drive murders and mayhem to reap huge profits on its silver horde. The politicians are being killed to change minds in Washington, and non-syndicate mines are being destroyed to reduce supply. Soon, the plans escalate to assassinating the President and Silver Battalions being sent to subdue the capital.
So with the above synopsis from only the first four chapters of the novel, we are off to another exciting ride for the Spider… I am certainly glad that Wentworth does not have heart disease or he would not last long given its speed and desperation. The plot is a little difficult for our modern minds given that we have been off the gold standard for 40 years, but that does not keep us from enjoying the maleficent activities and nonstop excitement. If you like action, and are a little less concerned with logic, this is a remarkably enjoyable story for you!