Monday, September 28, 2009
Perry Mason's Crazy Cousin: The Man in the Silver Mask
Something happened to his brother. Exactly what happened is never made clear, but it was horrendous enough to make this guy pop a silver ice bucket on his head and roam the mean streets fighting crime. On the cover above we see him issuing instructions to his deaf and dumb servant Ah Wong.
In this story from July 13, 1935 (apparently the first in the series) a good-lookin’ society babe witnesses a diamond theft. Naturally, the villain kidnaps her to prevent her from testifying. Enter the Man in the Silver Mask. He kidnaps the bad guy’s henchman Dugan and promises torture if the society babe’s whereabouts are not revealed.
Ah Wong slipped into the room with a brass bowl, a cage containing a huge rat, and a brass brazier which he carried by a handle.
“In the Chinese method of torture,” The Man in the Silver Mask said affably, “a rat is placed upon the stomach of the victim. A bowl is put over the rat, and little bits of hot charcoal are put in the bowl. Gradually, the bowl commences to get hot. The heat is coming from the top. The rat tries to get out. He can’t get out so he starts to dig. . . . Many people weaken as soon as they feel the rat running around on their naked flesh, but I think you’re brave, Dugan. I think you’ll let the rat tunnel through the skin, perhaps into the stomach, but when he commences to run around inside of your stomach and gnaw down into your liver, I think you’ll probably tell me what I want to know.”
Every vestige of bravado left the gangster. Sweat glistened the skin of his forehead. He opened his mouth and uttered a scream of shrill terror.
Man! Perry and Paul Drake could have saved a lot of shoe leather with methods like that!