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Walkers in Shadow by Mike Chinn

Demons in Manhattan sewers. Enchanted gateways deep within the Bowery. Zombies in Harlem. Old World vampires haunting New Rochelle. Hidden Templar treasures and a hunt for the Grail across the length of a continent. Quasi-immortal Damian Paladin and adventuress Leigh Oswin pit their wits, guns and flying skills against the magical and mundane in 1930s America – and worlds beyond.

Sometimes there is nothing better than a bit of good old-fashioned action adventure. Personally, I’ve always found the 1930s to be a wonderfully evocative time period. Without creations like Doc Savage, The Shadow, Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy, we wouldn’t have characters like Indiana Jones, The Rocketeer, Rick O’Connell or Buckaroo Banzai. Walkers in Shadow from Mike Chinn dives deep into the realms of pulpy goodness to give us a new hero to stand beside his fictional forebears.

Damian Paladin is an investigator with a particular interest in the supernatural. Though he has achieved a certain amount of fame through his exploits there is still something mysterious about him. His origins are hinted at on a number of points during the book but never revealed in their entirety. All we know is he is long lived and has been battling darkness, in one form or another, for centuries. Paladin falls into that category of square-jawed heroic type who always does the right thing. Exactly what you would want from a pulp hero, I’d imagine.

The other main character is Leigh Oswin, Paladin’s partner and friend. Successful club owner, accomplished pilot and loyal ally, she is the perfect match to our hero. Owsin doesn’t suffer fools gladly, is always willing to join a fight and ends up saving Paladin more often than not. She is clearly her friend’s equal, I enjoyed her no-nonsense approach to tackling problems; if in doubt, shot first and ask questions later.

There is a nice undercurrent of Cthulhu-esque horror running throughout the entire narrative that I liked. We start off with ghosts, zombies and vampires, but there are far more sinister, other-worldy, forces at work against Damian Paladin. As each adventure progresses, the tone of the novel gets gradually darker. The outcome of each tale builds towards a grand finale that does a great job of drawing everything together.

I think it is worth mentioning that the attitudes exhibited by some of the characters, specifically to do with race and gender, are likely to be considered offensive by anyone today. This is historic adventure and we can’t deny that these attitudes existed so it makes far more sense to address them. This is the trickiest thing to do, write about points of view that are unacceptable by modern standards but were rife in the past. I think the author handles these moments pretty well. Paladin is long lived, and you get the distinct impression he has seen prejudice in many forms and knows exactly how to deal with it. Evil Nazis, vile bigots and sleazy sexists are all given short shrift.

Walkers in Shadow is a fun collection of episodic action/adventure stories that could have easily been pulled directly from an old pulp magazine. It’s a well-executed homage to a bygone era that entertains throughout.

Regular readers of The Eloquent Page will know I like to suggest a little musical accompaniment for every book I review and Walkers in Shadow is no exception. I needed some sounds that captured the ritzy grandeur of New York in the 1930s, but also something suitably heroic.  Ultimately, I went with the soundtrack to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow by Edward Shearmur. It has a perfect retro vibe that I am sure Damian Paladin would approve of.

Walkers in Shadow is published by Pro Se and is available now.

Walkers In Shadow

New From: £11.70 GBP In Stock

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