The Spider #16: The City Destroyer

Thousands of busy persons bent over their desks in the tallest building in the world—conducting the commerce of the nation—when suddenly the steel girders began to creak and twist, and the gigantic edifice swayed giddily in the rising wind. Never before had criminal brains devised a more cunning or a more horrible weapon to garner their ill-gotten treasures. And never before was the Spider so strenuously put to test—for the Master, the man behind the devastation and death, eluded every suspicion, foresaw every contingency, left no tell-tale clues behind him as he ravaged, slayed and pillaged… Richard Wentworth, working for once hand in hand with the organized forces of law and order, fights the grimmest battle of his long career. Can the Spider avenge the countless dead who have already fallen? Can he bring the Murder Master to the justice he so richly deserves?

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Thousands of busy persons bent over their desks in the tallest building in the world—conducting the commerce of the nation—when suddenly the steel girders began to creak and twist, and the gigantic edifice swayed giddily in the rising wind. Never before had criminal brains devised a more cunning or a more horrible weapon to garner their ill-gotten treasures. And never before was the Spider so strenuously put to test—for the Master, the man behind the devastation and death, eluded every suspicion, foresaw every contingency, left no tell-tale clues behind him as he ravaged, slayed and pillaged… Richard Wentworth, working for once hand in hand with the organized forces of law and order, fights the grimmest battle of his long career. Can the Spider avenge the countless dead who have already fallen? Can he bring the Murder Master to the justice he so richly deserves?

By Norvell W. Page, writing as Grant Stockbridge

Dimensions

5.25" x 8"

Pages

210

Publication Date

September 15, 2019

Author

Grant Stockbridge,

John Fleming Gould,

John Newton Howitt,

Norvell W. Page

Publisher

Altus Press

Series

Popular Heroes

The Spider

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Editorial Review

Many 9/11 events happening 66 years before 9/11/2001! A truly bloody romp provided once again by Norvell Page.

“The City Destroyer” is the sixteenth Spider novel and was originally published in January 1935. The story itself is somewhat misnamed. A stolen chemical formula is being used to dissolve steel in buildings (and eventually other steel structures, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, plus trains, subways, and ships); so, probably building destroyer would be a more precise title, although it could destroy a city one structure at a time. One of first buildings destroyed is Sky building, a skyscraper which felt like the Empire State Building. Three chapters are devoted to this early destruction, and frankly flashes of 9/11 kept going through my mind as the building is evacuated, but still a thousand people died as the building collapses in a pile of dust destroying a five block radius, with one stone from the collapse being pitched twenty blocks piercing into a subway and pulping 60 people in one car. Later building destructions do not have the luxury of early warning and therefore, no evacuation such that thousands die in each of them. (One was the fictitious Plymouth Building, which probably represented the actual Chrysler Building.)

The destruction of millions  of dollars of buildings and countless lives is done to allow looting of the wrecked properties and the popularization of a particular brand of steel.

Overall, I would give this novel a five-star rating. However, be warned that you will find yourself thinking about the 9/11 atrocity. While I will give Page points for his description decades before the event, fictional death is one thing versus the human cost of thousands of lives being lost.

—Dennis Burdette