New York City, 1936: The Radcliffe, a luxury apartment building on Central Park West, is terrorised by a string of burglaries. The police suspect an insider, but there is no hard evidence, because the burglar comes and goes like a ghost.
At first glance, it seems like a simple enough job for Richard Blakemore, the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer. Stake out the Radcliffe, nab the burglar and be back in time for dinner with Constance, his beautiful fiancée.
But even small-time criminals can fight back. And such a fight can quickly get out of hand, once Richard steps into the elevator of doom…
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- Elevator of Doom is a novelette of 7600 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- The inspiration for the story was this news article from 1909. What caught my eye was the fight to the death in a falling elevator car. The idea of one of the largely invisible uniformed staffers at a luxury apartment building using his position and knowledge of the inhabitants and their habits to commit crimes was also intriguing. What I did not like, however, was the fact that the culprit was black because of the racefail involved. So I decided to keep the black elevator operator, but turn him into a good guy and innocent suspect, while the true villain is a white guy.
- The Radcliffe luxury apartment building on Central Park West is purely fictional, though it was inspired by real luxury apartment buildings in the area such as the Dakota, infamous for Rosemary’s Baby and for John Lennon being gunned down on the sidewalk, the San Remo, the Majestic, the Eldorado or the so-called Ghostbusters building. Why the name “Radcliffe”? Well, Ira Levin named his Dakota stand-in “The Bramford” after Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula, so I named mine after Ann Radcliffe, mistress of the gothic novel.
- Elevator of Doom is probably the most low-key Silencer adventure I have written to date, for this time Richard’s life is not at stake (as in Countdown to Death), there is no terrorist spreading fear (as in Flying Bombs) nor is anybody torturing young women to death (as in The Spiked Death). But then, you can’t always save the world. And clearing the name of an innocent suspect (or two, since Norma Manning also comes under suspicion) is just as important.
- Elevator of Doom is also unusual, since Richard feels his age in this story. We also get his age, 36, which makes him another Century Baby, as is nigh obligatory for pulpy adventure heroes. Richard also gets his arse kicked in this story and by Paul, who is not exactly a criminal mastermind, at that, and needs Stanley’s help.
- The Silencer’s usual supporting cast is largely absent in this story. Constance only appears briefly towards the end, Justin O’Grady has a cameo appearance without dialogue and Neal Cassidy, Jake Levonsky and Randall Whitman don’t appear at all.
- The kitten Richard picks up for Constance was actually something of an afterthought. It just showed up during the brief scene where Richard crosses Central Park and followed him around. And since the Silencer is a hero after all, it was only logical that he would save an abandoned kitten. Besides, Constance really loves the little guy.
- The cover image is stock art by file404 via Canstockphoto. As always, the Silencer covers are supposed to evoke the pulp cover artwork of the 1930s, though this one is a bit more abstract and somewhat reminiscent of the posters for expressionist silent films.