Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1948: The Mystery of the LetterReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: August 16, 1948-August 30, 1948
"The Mystery of the Letter"
Lois Lane has just received a telegram from her sister Diana. She is postponing her dance performances in Europe to come to Metropolis to give the star reporter a big story. She is to arrive on August 16 at 10:30 AM. However, when Lois and Clark Kent arrive at the airport, they find no trace of Diana. The concerned pair returns to the offices of the Daily Planet, where Diana has called Lois as if she is afraid of something. Lois must go to Diana's address in Paris, France to find out more. Lois is now even more worried as she arrives at Diana's room. Her fears are well founded, for Lois and Jean (the caretaker) have found furniture overturned, and Diana is missing. Miss Lane is now deeply involved in this unusual mystery.
Lois, Clark and the French police learn that a light-haired man had been arguing with Diana. Jean's description of him fits Raymond, Diana's dance partner who was in love with her. Police Captain Du Lac and Clark learn that Raymond and a woman who is possibly Diana left on a chartered airplane for Madrid, Spain. Now, Superman is searching for the ship. Meanwhile, Lois has been awakened by a masked gunman in Diana's sitting room. The weapon is pointed at her, and it looks like that she is in grave danger. Superman may not be able to rescue Lois.
Superman is questioning Raymond while the dancer's new partner Yvette sleeps. Diana had discovered a letter in French that she felt meant that she was in danger once it had been translated. Raymond had quarreled with Diana because she wanted to cancel their dance tour of Europe because she had feared for her very life. Raymond then says that Diana may have hidden the paper in a folding picture frame. To prove this, Raymond is flown back to France by Superman. The two men find Jean unconscious. The caretaker later tells them that a masked man had taken Lois. With both Lane women missing, the Man of Steel might need every power at his disposal to find them.
A neighbor has told Jean of a Fiat Sedan that the masked man had escaped in with Lois. Superman is searching for the car as the criminal in question is demanding that Diana, who has been reunited with Lois in the villain's hideout, tell him where the letter is. Otherwise, both she and Lois will die. This adventure has just become more intense for the Lane sisters.
Diana has told the masked man that she had hidden the letter in a magazine in a broom closet across from her apartment. The criminal sends his henchmen Jacques, who has been caught by the cleaning woman Lucy. Jacques runs away, but Superman later follows his trail. At the same time, Lois and Diana are attempting to escape. However, as Jacques returns, Diana leaves on her own to get help. Will she ever meet up with the police or Superman?
Jacques and his masked employer have noticed that Diana has escaped to the rooftop of their hideout. The agile dancer manages to dodge bullets until she is winged as she reaches the river. Superman, in his search for Jacques, has found the wounded Diana. The Man of Steel has given Diana artificial respiration, and, despite her confusion, Diana leads Superman to where she and Lois were held. Unfortunately, neither Lois nor the criminals are anywhere in the old house. Heaven only knows what has happened to the star reporter.
The police have had no luck in finding the men that captured Lois and Diana. After recovering from the bullet wound. Diana Lane tells Clark Kent and Captain Du Lac all she knows of the letter that she had found. She was in a cafe when a man had dropped the paper in her lap. She didn't like the looks of any of the people there afterwards so she left the restaurant. She had asked a taxi driver and a hotel manager to translate the document because she could not read French. The men refused and told her that she was spreading lies about France Now, the masked man has the note that Diana had found. The only hope Du Lac and Clark have is questioning the men to whom Diana had shown it. Unfortunately, both of the fellows have been found in the woods shot dead. There seems to be no hope in solving this mystery.
After much time, Diana remembers that the signature on the letter was a capital L in the shape of a bird. It is later learned that an Agent LaRue wrote the paper. The French secret service believes that a spy has been giving secret information to a foreign power. LaRue was sent to investigate, but it is believed that he is now dead. He was possibly killed by the masked man that had captured Lois. Suddenly, Clark believes that he knows the spy's identity. If everything goes well, Kent will return with the criminal and Lois Lane within the hour. Will Superman succeed, or will the star reporter be eliminated before she can be rescued?
George Bunarget, George Anret, and George Caret are on a list Clark has written and given to Captain Du Lac and the secret service. Each man holds an important position in the French government, but Diana Lane remembers seeing the name George in the letter she had. Caret had owned the house in which Lois and Diana had been taken, but he denies ever being there. Captain Du Lac is now going to take fingerprints of the people whom Clark suspects. Meanwhile, Jacques, who has been ordered to kill Lois, has been stopped by police for speeding. He insults the officer and is ordered to tell it to the judge when he boasts about being employed by an important person. Later, Two of the three Georges are proven to not be the spy for whom Superman is searching. This leaves only Caret. However, Minister Caret was called away just before Colonel Charlotte, Captain Du Lac and Clark arrive. They are waiting patiently, not knowing that Caret himself plans to kill Lois Lane in thirty minutes. It looks like the notorious spy will get away with murder.
Clark Kent is clearly tired of waiting for Caret for over an hour. He wants to take matters into his own hands. Charlotte, Du Lac and Kent are examining the minister's office. They find that Caret's fingerprints match those found in the house where the Lane sisters had been taken. Reading indentations on a pad of paper with his Kryptonian eyes. Kent goes to follow Caret's trail as Superman. The police tell him that Caret bailed Jacques out of prison and left in a blue Mercedes Benz Sedan south away from Paris. At that moment, the spy in question makes preparations to gun down Lois. Superman will need all of his tremendous speed if he is to save the star reporter.
Superman has landed in the cottage before Caret could shoot Lois. After taking care of Jacques and Caret, Superman discovers that someone is bound and gagged in the basement. It is the real George Caret. The one that tried to kill Lois is the minister's twin brother who wanted to discredit him. With the spy now in the hands of the police, France is now celebrating the return of its beloved official, and Lois Lane has scooped all the newspapers in the United States. She and Superman can return to Metropolis for another action packed tale in The Adventures of Superman.
This is the last completed story arc of the fifteen minute episodes. Only a few episodes exist from the story after this one.
"The Mystery of the Letter" is a pretty basic spy story that also gives us some insight into the Lois and Diana Lane's past. They were the only ones left in the family after their parents passed away. This fact is also mentioned in "The Phony Inheritance Racket," but nothing about Diana had ever been revealed until this serial had aired. Now, the reason I mention this is because the development of Diana's character helps keep the story from being mundane. Otherwise, we'd have a typical tale that really doesn't stand out very much. It isn't bad, but, the Lane sisters aside, there isn't a lot that we haven't seen before.
"The Mystery of the Letter" marks the first, and possibly only, appearance of Diana Lane. She had been mentioned in passing throughout various episodes of The Adventures of Superman. However, there isn't any story arc currently available that features her before. I must admit that I like to see little nuggets about the supporting cast. They help to give more depth and make them more interesting if they are done well. Diana Lane's arrival to the series was long overdue as she helps to add extra layers to Lois' character in the radio show. Sometimes she just isn't used to her full potential in the series, and that's sad because she is one of the most important people in the Man of Steel's life.
Like Dominus in the comic books, George Caret, or rather his brother, is a villain that had potential that was never really used. I'm not sure who created him, but as he is now, he feels more like he would make even the lamest third rate villain look like Ruin or Lex Luthor. Even Mike Hickey in his early appearances is better than Caret. I'm not exactly sure where the writers went wrong. So much more could have been done with him.
"The Mystery of the Letter" shows the full power old time radio shows have on the imagination. Some serials in The Adventures of Superman can be lacking in that department, particularly the ones with Batman and Robin. Even the best serials with the Dynamic Duo in them never show the Man of Steel in Gotham City. They're always in Metropolis because they live there like Superman does. Anyway, "The Mystery of the Letter" takes the mind's eye on a voyage that every great audio drama should.
Overall, there are some elements that could have been worked on to make them better, but "The Mystery of the Letter" is a decent cloak and dagger story that gives us a little more about Lois Lane and her sister Diana. This is the last completed serial with a few episodes scattered about in the fifteen minute series. In seven days or so, we'll be examining the half hour shows with "The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost." Until next week, Superfans, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now, go read the other great reviews and articles on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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