I'm a sucker for just about any story (prose, comics, film, TV) that involves zeppelins/dirigibles. There's something about those magnificent airships that harken back to a bygone era of high adventure. The cover art of the paperback reprint of MURDER TRAIL (the 26th Shadow adventure, originally published in March, 1933) by the legendary Jim Steranko, is a beauty, featuring both the weird avenger of the night and a gigantic dirigible. Sold!
It's not false advertising either as the opening chapters of this story take place on board a German dirigible on it's way from Europe to the U.S. But the action quickly moves from the air to the ground in what is, I must admit, a pretty routine Shadow thriller.
A group of wealthy industrialists are attempting to pool their fortunes to create a World Industry League, a kind of super-conglomerate of international interests designed to foster both world peace and cooperation and stimulate the economy (this was, after all, written during the Great Depression). The scheme involves an emissary visiting each man on a secret list, producing identifying papers and documents and securing the millions in cold, hard cash each man has pledged. But a super-criminal who calls himself Crix, has gotten wind of this endeavor. He kills the emissary on board the dirigible, steals his identity and begins collecting the money for himself (and killing the men on the list of donors). Of course, gangsters Bumps Jaffrey and Bart Shallock, are recruited to be the muscle behind the plot and one of The Shadow's agents, Cliff Marsland, infiltrates the gang in order to channel information to his boss.
There's a couple of violent gun fights with high body counts but things are wrapped up fairly quickly with the identity of Crix revealed at the end (frankly, it's not that big of a surprise).
MURDER TRAIL isn't a bad read overall. It's certainly worth reading if you're a Shadow fan but after that strong opening, it quickly becomes a pretty routine adventure. In my opinion, more dirigible action would have really made this one sing.