this is the 199th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Over Her Dear Body by Richard Prather, Fawcet Gold Medal, 1959 paperback, mystery, Shell Scott #16
“Behind me on the yacht, gayety swirled like audible confetti. I leaned on the rail up near the bow, smoking a cigarette and finishing another bourbon-and-water, waiting for something to happen.”
In the first few pages while he’s waiting for his client to make herself known, Scott has boarded a yacht, had some drinks, a woman has made a pass at him. When she does she’s drop dead beautiful – of course – and invites him to a stateroom to speak privately.
He goes into the wrong room, interrupting a meeting of some sort, ends up in a fistfight, goes to the correct stateroom but the woman has left. We soon learn Scott’s client’s brother is up to something shady and the day after the party on the yacht he’s killed.
Thus begins a slightly convoluted story in which everyone seems to want to kill Scott, while the cops don’t believe anything he has to say. It seems the State Highway Commissioner is having people buy land that new freeways will cross. Apparently there is a lot of profit to be made. The meeting Scott stumbled into was between the Commissioner, the (soon to be murdered) brother and a couple of hoods. All attempts to kill Scott fail though the pressure increases. He foils a car bomb attempt, gets shot, escapes from a hospital as killers close in and finally manages a showdown with the bad guys that solves everything.
There are babes and action and even a little humor. Scott gets roughed up pretty badly, more than usual. I like these a lot and this one was fun.
There are lots of authors like this that I need to try (Jonathan Craig is another) – thanks Richard, very curious (and I think Patti is doign a day dedicated to him, right?)
Yes, there will be one on January 15th. I enjoy these, Craig not so much, but then you know my tastes are all over the place.
I read a handful of these back in my early teens (!) and liked them well enough, but not enough to ever want to go back and read more of them.
Everyone else from the APA seems to have read this stuff when they were a teen or in their twenties, whereas I read SF at that time and didn’t start reading mysteries until later, and came upon these later still. I now have a bunch of them, but only 20% of them read.
When I was in high school my classmates [a) if they read at all and b) if they read mysteries] had Shell Scott as their go-to series. I found the later novels in the series less interesting (perhaps because I was then out of high school) but I have a lot of good memories about the Gold Medal era Shell Scott
Another high school reader of these. In high school all I read was science fiction! At least that’s what I did when I wasn’t listening to Top 40 radio and being a stupid high school kid with my friends.
Shell Scott was very popular back in the Sixties. I bought plenty of these books because of the McGinnis covers.
And I’ll bet you either have them now or they’re at SUNY. I have many with those covers, but quite a few others. I have the second one shown here, which I scanned yesterday.
I believe I’ll be able to have a forgotten book entry for next week
Excellent! Be sure and let Patti know, or I will if you send me the link.
Prather day is January 15th. I was in junior high when I first started reading him.
Good grief, when I was in junior high, which was actually just 7th grade and 8th grade, as there wasn’t anything called “junior high” where I grew up, I was reading the Winston science fiction books. Certainly nothing like Shell Scott books!
I read Philip Roth’s OUR GANG when I was in 6th Grade. Perhaps I should count that against my assertion that the Bellamy and Silverberg novels I FFB today are the first adult sf novels I read…though the Roth is more mildly surreal humor/parody.
I was 11 years old in 7th grade, it was 1956. OUR GANG was published in 1971 That could be much of the difference.
I was barely aware of Prather, not too tough by my high school days (the smutty lit of choice for my cohort would be John Hughes’s “My Vagina” and “My Penis” in NATIONAL LAMPOON). Is Prather the major exception to your statements about never finding humorous mystery fiction humorous?
Yes, Todd, I guess it is. There’s also some humor in John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books and I like them a lot, and the Mike Shayne series also has a little. Maybe that’s the key, a little. I like the Scott character, and the humor is his, not the writer’s, or that’s how it seems, and that makes it palatable for me.
I, too, read Prather back in the day–meaning way back, salad days and earlier. I think even before I discovered Hamilton and MacDonald, and then never looked back.