Friday’s Forgotten Book: Shadow of Madness by Hugh Pentecost (1950)

One of the great pleasures of blogging, you’ll all agree, is discovering new authors and books through fellow bloggers. Thus, I was delighted to read about this (completely unknown to me) book @ JetBlackDragonFly.

“Unhappily, Dr. Smith, you have walked into a very complex situation.”

Dr. John Smith (who as I found out later is a series character of the author) goes fishing and having lost his way in the woods finds himself facing a machine gun with Mark Douglas at the other end of the gun. Mark forces Smith inside a cabin where he joins eight other hostages of Mark including Mark’s wife, Kay. The rest are his closest friends – people with whom he has grown up, gone to school and college, done business and helped with his wealth and position. Mark’s reason for taking them all hostage is that he wants to find the person who has made his life a living hell since the death of his father. It seems somebody has been blackmailing Mark, threatening to expose the secret that Mark has assiduously tried to hide. Mark has finally zeroed on these eight people and now he wants the blackmailer to reveal himself/ herself or he’d kill all of them. Only a few days are left…

Dr. Smith, a psychologist (one of the disciples of Sigmund Freud) thus sets out to extract the backstories of the characters, their relationship to each other, and to search for truths among the lies and the deceits. Meanwhile as the deadline approaches tension among the group boils over as former friends turn against one another, accusations rent the air, shots are fired, blood is spilled, and somebody gets stabbed. In all this mayhem, will Dr. Smith be able to find out the blackmailer before Mark turns the gun on them all?

This is a taut little thriller that had me guessing till the end and kept me so hooked that I couldn’t put it down on a day when life suddenly had a gaping hole and I needed something like this badly. So a big thanks to Eden and you can all check his fabulous blog over here.


First Line: The small gray man pushed his way through the brush and came out into the clearing.

Publication Details: NY: Dodd, Mead and Company, MCML.

First Published: 1950

Series: Dr. John Smith #2

Pages: 212

Source: Open Library

Trivia: The book is dedicated to: “Those two gentlemen who call themselves Ellery Queen….”

9 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: Shadow of Madness by Hugh Pentecost (1950)

  1. Thanks for the shout out to my JetBlackDragonfly blog – So nice to connect with you, and I’m glad you enjoyed this as much as I did.


  2. I have read books by Hugh Pentecost, mostly back when I was much younger. And mostly … as far as I can remember … the ones I have read are the Pierre Chambrun series (hotel manager, about 20 books in the series). I read one of those in the last year and enjoyed it.

    This one you are reviewing does sound very good, I will have to look and see if I can find more of his mysteries, other series or standalone books. I do have one unread that is not a Pierre Chambrun book. That one is The Obituary Club. And two in the Julian Quist series.

    Liked by 1 person

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