Re your question below:
> I've found these Prather novels available. Are
> of them better than the
> others? Any to avoid?
> Pattern for Panic
> Always Leave 'Em Dying
I haven't read all of Prather, but I'd say there's a pretty
even quality to them. If you like one, you'll like most of
them, and if you don't like one you'll probably dislike most
That said, I think he's a fine craftsman. I never got around
to listing my favorite '50s novels, but, if I had, one of
them surely would've been DOUBLE IN TROUBLE, the
collaborative effort between Prather and Stephen Marlowe (and
between their characters, Scott and Chet Drum), one of my
all-time favorite PI novels.
If you've never read Prather, they're kind of hard to
describe. Think of Shell Scott as Mike Hammer with a whacky
sense of humor and a sunny disposition, transplanted from the
noir-ish concrete canyons of Manhattan to sunshiney Southern
That said, PATTERN FOR PANIC, Prather's version of ONE LONELY
NIGHT, pits Scott against a Soviet espionage cell in Mexico
and is generally regarded as one of the better entries in the
series. It has a kind of interesting history. When he first
submitted it to Gold Medal, the publishers were a bit nervous
about the Cold War theme, so he sent it to another publisher
after changing Shell Scott's name to something else. A few
years later, somewhat embarrassed at having let this popular
novel get away from them, Gold Medal got the reprint rights
and, in their edition, restored Shell Scott's name.
ALWAYS LEAVE 'EM DYING, like PATTERN FOR PANIC, IIRC tones
down the comic elements somewhat and has Scott contending
with a sinister religious cult that's into human
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