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Shell Scott Books In Order

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Publication Order of Shell Scott Books

The Case of the Vanishing Beauty (1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bodies in Bedlam (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
Everybody Had a Gun (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
Find This Woman (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dagger of Flesh (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Darling, It's Death (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Way of a Wanton (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pattern for Murder / The Scrambled Yeggs (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Always Leave 'em Dying (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ride a High Horse / Too Many Crooks (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pattern for Panic (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
Strip for Murder (1956)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Wailing Frail (1956)Description / Buy at Amazon
Have Gat - Will Travel (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three's a Shroud (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Slab Happy (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
Take a Murder, Darling (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
Over Her Dear Body (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
Double in Trouble (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dance with the Dead (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dig That Crazy Grave (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shell Scott's Seven Slaughters (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kill the Clown (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dead Heat (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
Joker in the Deck (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cockeyed Corpse (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Trojan Hearse (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dead Man's Walk (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kill Him Twice (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Meandering Corpse (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Kubla Khan Caper (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
Gat Heat (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cheim Manuscript (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kill Me Tomorrow (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Shell Scott Sampler (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dead-Bang (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sweet Ride (1972)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sure Thing (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Amber Effect (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shellshock (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Death Gods (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Shell Scott Collections

Hot Rock Rumble & The Double Take (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon

Shell Scott is a series of novels by Richard S. Prather, one of the most successful detective crime fiction writers of the 1950s. The first of the Shell Scott novels was Case of the Vanishing Beauty, first published in 1950 to much critical acclaim and commercial success. Prolific writer that he was, Prather continued publishing titles in the series with the last novel, The Death Gods published in 2011, four years after his death. The chief protagonist in the series is Shell Scott a former Marine turned private investigator operating in Los Angeles California. With more than 30 novels published over six decades, the series follows the life and times of the lead character, as he goes through a series of strange assignments so unlike any you would find in the regular pulp fiction detective mysteries. Similar to characters such as Latimer’s Bill Crane and Bellem’s Dan Turner, the novels are full of innuendo, are outlandish, smirky, and have alcohol fuelled plots from time to time. The author has variously asserted that despite the novels taking on serious themes, they are made to highlight mystery rather than murder, hence their upbeat attitude.

Shell Scott is a 6 foot 2 former marine with a bristling white buzz cut, a broken nose, and a distinctive ear with a cut from a bullet he took fighting in the Pacific theater. While most hard-boiled detectives are cynical, and dour, Scott comes across as an exception to the rule. He moves around Hollywood in a canary yellow Cadillac, is a collector of tropical fish, and often indulged in alcohol. Judging by Prathers descriptions of the character, he was quite the ogler, and is often successful in seducing the ubiquitous and available among them. Overall, Shell Scott is a happy go lucky and cheeky kind of detective, who retains the alcohol soaked stereotype of his peers. In the early novels of the series, Scott presents the typical post war Spillane type character of detectives of the time. He is an alpha male with a gun, and a private investigator permit, trawling the mean streets of the city looking to solve complex crimes. However, it is soon apparent that he was nothing like the old school detectives walking the streets. At over six foot tall, he is remarkably tall for the times and show remarkably little fear, which must have made him stand out among his peers.

Prathers does a good job of writing for entertainment while also catering to the theme of justice for the bad guys. While the series is full of violence and villains, Scott is willing and more than able to make sure that when the going got tough, it is those on the wrong side of the law that got the short end of the stick. Despite all the sex and violence in the Shell Scott series, the author lightens the mood through what may be described as a relentless and goofy hedonism embodied by the lead character. Shell Scott is unlike the ordinary dyed in the wool detective who seems obsessed with the job. It seems that for the most part, he is looking for some adventure rather than justice or vengeance. He is more of a toned down version of James Bond that walks the street as opposed to taking down international crime plots. Nonetheless, despite the innuendo of sex and the well-endowed women in the series, most of the action happens offstage as Scott is a believer in the do not kiss and tell principle that a gentleman such as him would be expected to have. What makes the novels so enjoyable is that while Scott remains a virile 30 year old over the decades, the stories are so varied, that you could never predict what the next chapter or novel holds.

The highly popular first novel of the series, Case of the Vanishing Beauty introduces us to Shell Scott, one of the top private detectives in Los Angeles. The detective has just taken a strange case brought to him by a friend. He meets up with Georgia Martin at El Cuchillo an eatery in downtown Los Angeles to get more details the case and plan out the operation. However, Georgia is scant on details only telling him that Tracy her sister has disappeared. Scott is wondering why he had to go downtown and eat Mexican food with her, when he should have been out there tracking Tracy. He soon forgets all about the case when the show featuring the beautiful Lina comes on. It is a well-choreographed knife-throwing act, though the protagonist is more interested in the luscious Lina rather than the act. Leaving the club after the show, it is not long before Shell Scott’s expert eyes pick up a tail. He tries to shake the car but it is all in vain as moments later the car overtakes them. After the roar of semi-automatic machine gun fire dies down, Georgia Martin is sprawled on her seat dead, leaving the detective with more questions than answers.

The second novel in the Shell Scott Mystery series of novels, Bodies in Bedlam is just as good if not better than the first one. Shell Scott is the underworld’s number one enemy and armed with one of the sharpest minds in the business and a pistol in his pocket, there is nothing he cannot do. However, he has one weakness – he is a sucker for the all familiar damsel in distress. As such, it is no surprise when he takes a job that may be too much for him, when a pair of lovely legs struts into his office with a murder case. To a Casanova, Carmocha Constanxa is like a playful cat that scratches out your eyes with its sharp claws, while purring innocently. She is an expert at using her sensuous curve and lips to bend men like Shell Scott to her will. Burning everyone who stands in her way, she is proud of the trail of dead bodies she has left in her wake. Shell is convinced that his experiences with women of her type have sufficiently prepared him for anything Constanza could have up her sleeve. But has he bitten more than he can chew?

Book Series In Order » Characters » Shell Scott

3 Responses to “Shell Scott”

  1. Penny: 1 year ago

    My mom and dad loved these mysteries and I felt pretty “ grown up” at about 13-14 when I read my first one. Am now looking for the whole series in ebook, much easier on these older eyes, that would once again love to reminisce with PI Scott.

  2. nightshade: 4 years ago

    wow ive read 2 novels that i owned … i thought ut was just an obscure pulp series……glad to find its not …..

    • Graeme: 4 years ago

      Ha that’s always good to discover that. Always fun reading one or two books and then realizing there are tons more 🙂


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