Ed here: I'm reprinting this from `05 because when I was at a bookstore yesterday two gents in the mystery section were talking about Shell Scott.
Bud Post wrote to ask my why I never talk about Richard Prather. As I recall, I think I've devoted two or three columns to him over the past four years.
I loved Prather because he was always fun. I was naive about his right-wing politics so they never got in my way, I just liked the hilarious situations women always led the willing Shell into. One of my all-time favorite scenes is Shell in a hot air balloon flying above the nudist camp he's just escaped from. His attire consists of his holster and gun.
But I think the cleverness of the plotting--Robert Leslie Bellem incoprating Mickey Spillane--cost him something in reputation. Nothing that much fun could be any good, right?
But Prather was a real writer. His depiction of LA after the big war, the nut jobs who seemed to fill TV screens 24/7 and the various type of restaurants, parties and clambakes Shell went to gave us a good sense of what LA was like in this days. Good solid reporting.
The unreality came in the form of the gangsters--straight out of ZIV TV--and the women. Have there ever been so many beautiful babes so willing to drag a man into bed? And all with such cute, coy dialogue?
I can still sit down and read one of the Shells with great enjoyment because however dated they're soundly built by a man who knew what he as doing and did it with pride.