Sunday, September 18, 2011

More 1st Paragraphs


I really enjoyed the opportunity to type out the words of Ross Mcdonald, so I scanned my bookshelves again for another author. I have a soft spot for author Richard S. Prather and his detective Shell Scott.
Richard S. Prather in 1967, he looks so much like a Daniel Clowes' character!

I have no fewer than 15 paperbacks, most with fabulous covers—the element that first attracted me. These books are far more "pulpy" with an old-school obsession with the ladies, but charming none-the-less, with a silly sense of comedy and a dash of the absurd. Prather's first paragraphs are consistently pretty brief.

Upon typing them out it's clear that most of his books begin with a reference to a sexy dame to hook the reader. I assume this consistency enabled him to crank out 45 books in his career; all but six published in the 1950s and 60s.


She looked hotter than a welder’s torch and much, much more interesting. – Case of the Vanishing Beauty, 1950

It’s a funny thing. If you were in the middle of the African veld and heard a couple of high notes from a hot trumpet, you’d undoubtedly think it was some animal sounding off. Or if there were a python hissing on one of the top floors of the Empire State Building, you’d probably think it was an office boy whistling through his teeth. – Everybody Had a Gun, 1951

She still had all her clothes on and was standing in the blue light from a baby spot when I came in, but I knew it wasn’t going to last because the way she was moving I could tell it was that kind of dance. I was glad it was that kind of dance. – Find This Woman, 1951

It was Bedlam, and Babel, and Baghdad galloping, and Lady Godiva in the middle naked as an artificial eye on a white-satin spread. And not a sign of a horse. – Bodies in Bedlam, 1951

The morgue in Los Angeles is downstairs in the Hall of Justice. It was seven o’clock at night, dark now, and Mr. Franklin stopped me when we reached the building’s entrance. “You go ahead,” he said. – Have Gat—Will Travel: 6 Shell Scott Stories, 1952-1956

I awoke in darkness, dull pain throbbing in my head, my side aching with each breath, and I lay quietly for a minute trying to remember where I was. A faint, slightly sickening odor of ether and disinfectants recalled the white-uniformed nurse, the too cheerful doctor. Now I remembered: Manning, Memorial Hospital in Seacliff. Room 48. Patient, me, Shell Scott, private detective, somewhat disabled. – Too Many Crooks, 1953

This was a party that Cholly Knickerbocker, in tomorrow’s Los Angeles Examiner, would describe as “a gathering of the Smart Set,” and if this was the Smart Set I was glad I belonged to the Stupid Set. – Strip for Murder, 1955 (tag line “Shell Scott invades a nudist camp”)

She had a seventy-eight-inch bust, forty-six-inch waist, and seventy-two-inch hips—measurements that were exactly right, I thought, for her height of eleven feet, four inches. – Take a Murder, Darling, 1958

He lay there in the silk-lined casket looking very waxy, but it was eight to five that he looked no more waxy than I. – Slab Happy, 1958

The Rand Brothers Mortuary was so beautiful it almost made you want to die. – Dig That Crazy Grave, 1961

She has eyes that sizzled and lips like flaming puckers, and a body flaunting the vital statistics you’d expect on a gal with such facial sizzle and smack, but she was not so bright she would give a dummy an inferiority complex. That was the kick in the pants—my pants, of course, since I was with her. – Dead Heat, 1963

They dug up Johnny Troy that day. – The Trojan Hearse, 1964

When I went through the front door of the Jazz Pad, Lilli Lorraine was singing in a voice filled with fever and the words hung in the smoky air like heat. – The Meandering Corpse, 1965

That say time will tell, and on Mrs. Gladys Jellicoe it had spilled everything. She was about fifty years old and quite well preserved: she looked like a mummy. Her eyes were the color of coffee with the grounds still in it, and her hair was the same interesting shade as her eyes; she had a face to unwind cuckoo clocks and a shape like an old girdle. – The Cheim Manuscript, 1969

I swung left into Mulberry Drive and headed back toward town, hoping Mayor Everson Fowler’s phone call to the local law had taken Sergeant Samuels and Officer Jonah off my tail for good. I was also hoping, with slight unease, that we’d been talking about the same people. – The Sweet Ride, 1972


1 comment:

  1. Hi Aimee
    I don't know if you've heard but Richard Prather's final Shell Scott novel, The Death Gods is now published in Kindle, Smashwords, and will be in print at Amazon in a day or two. Read more about it here