This is the 23rd in my series of Friday Forgotten Books
“She looked hotter than a welder’s torch and much, much more interesting.”
Los Angeles private eye Shell Scott is on a strange case. Georgia Martin has hired him to take her out to dinner at El Cuchillo, a restaurant in downtown L.A. She won’t tell him more except that her sister Tracy is missing. Scott is wondering why they are eating Mexican food when he ought to be trying to track the sister down when the stage show starts. It’s a knife-throwing act featuring the beautiful Lina. Scott goes on for several pages about how gorgeous she is, but “luscious tomato!” will give you the idea. That she is wearing skin-tight short shorts and a bolero top with nothing under it is good reason for his eyes to follow her every move as the knife thrower hurls his narrow blades at her.
After the show Scott and Georgia leave the club, but they don’t get far before Scott sees that he’s picked up a tail. Moments later the car pulls alongside and shots are fired. By the time he manages to pull over, Georgia Martin is dead, leaving a lot of unanswered questions.
I’d heard a lot about the Shell Scott books back when I read this one, my first and the first in the series. I think the first in the series is always a good place to start. This one is a little more serious and traditional than the later books, as the series progresses it becomes more and more “screwball”. I don’t mind.
I heard someone say he could imagine a Shell Scott TV series starring Jim Carry (as a blonde, I guess) in the role. Well, I can’t stand Jim Carey, find his brand of humor silly and am convinced his rubber-faced stuff was done better and funnier by Red Skelton decades ago. I have a low tolerance for “silly” or “cutsie” avoid it when I can. Point? I liked this book, and I’ve liked the other books in the series I’ve read, even if – especially later in the series – they sometimes do get a little, shall we say, fanciful.
I figure when I read that I start out by accepting the author’s premise, whatever it may be, and once I do that, I read the rest of the book within that reality. I don’t worry that “if this were today, he couldn’t get away with that” because it’s not supposed to be “today” So I accept that Shell Scott is a single, apparently fairly well-off private eye in LA in 1950, driving a yellow Cadillac convertible and smoking and drinking and chasing women. Fine. Sounds like fun, if you ask me. I accept that his best friend is a big wheel at Homicide, so he can get away with a lot and get cop help when he needs it. Hell, this is supposed to be fun and that’s what it is.
Try this, you’ll like it. The next in the series are Bodies in Bedlam and Everybody Had A Gun.Note: due to my ongoing reorganization (see previous posts) it was a real chore to pull my copy of this to scan the cover, but an image search didn’t find this cover elsewhere. After a good deal of clambering about – and a couple dozen other books tumbled to the floor – I claimed it from the back half of the shelf on which it was double-shelved. I wish I could do away with double shelving, but sadly I can’t envision that day.
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