No criminal dared testify against another, while the Whisper was crime-emperor of New York—and the forces of the law were powerless against the ravages of the Underworld! For when the Whisper’s eerie warning fell over Manhattan men died, slashed to bloody bits by a weapon that was invisible but killed horribly! In that awe-struck city of riotous crime, where a murmuring voice brought instantaneous death, Richard Wentworth, in the Spider’s strange garb, took up a doomed people’s cause—fighting a Whispering Fury that loosed its thunderbolts in a tornado’s teeth and slew foully to pile up a fortune in streamlined corpses!
“City of Whispering Death” is the 55th Spider novel and was originally published in April 1938. It is written by Norvell Page.
Wearing a mask and a robe, the enemy is the Whisper. He has taken over the underworld through a reign of terror. He states, “When the Whisper of Doom sounds—a traitor dies!” When he is not using hoodlums with guns to do his dirty work, he uses a slashing device, which appears to be a crossbow which uses large cutting disks of various sizes on a shaft to kill by slashing throats or stomachs.
Thwarted by the Spider, eventually the Whisper kidnaps Nina, as he does many women in the novel, and threatens her. When the Spider does not desist, one of the Whisper’s colleagues, Casaroma, calls out the Spider to a duel in Central Park. The challenger says that he is doing the city a favor by taking out the Spider who has murdered so many. The police attempt to capture the Spider, but are unsuccessful. The Spider kills Casaroma and escapes.
At the end is the best scene of the novel. By now, the Spider has ferreted out the Whisper and release a bevy of kidnapped women who have been tortured by him (perhaps erotically although that is only hinted in this 1938 offering). The women torture the Whisper unto death, including stomping on him with their high heels. The Spider is unwilling to stop them, saying that he does not have a bullet available for the Whisper even as he is using this ammo to kill one after another of the Whisper’s followers. Too bad there was no artistic drawing of this situation!
Note: When wounded during the story, Wentworth goes to Doctor Rogers, who will appear in additional Spider novels. One wonders if he is related to Wayne!
Robert Sampson refers to this story as being “muddled.” Certainly, the plot is not terribly obvious in this one, and it seems to be only a platform for bad guys to do bad things and for the Spider to kill them. There are some good action scenes, but overall, this is not a very good novel.