RARA-AVIS: RE: Richard Prather

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 17 Mar 2000

The idea that Richard Prather's Shell Scott books were originally goofs on Spillane sounds like a definite possibility. WWII vet Scott, the sweet, usually undraped girls, the over-the-top villains and the plots were all Spillane-like with a West Coast woozy twist. But they were also more than just parodies; they were wacky and good-natured and just plain fun to read. Not to mention sexy. I think the reason they haven't been reprinted is that late in his career, Prather's political views (and I never quite understood what they were, exactly) began to undercut the humor and the series ended on something of a down note. His last books (that I know of) were from Tor in the Eighties. Regardless, the early Gold Medals are great fun. The previously mentioned "Way of a Wanton," as well as "Bodies in Bedlam" and
"Strip For Murder," are ones that come to mind. Just before the Tor books were published, I shared a table with Prather at a Private Eye Writers of America lunch in New York. I'd just written my first book and was too much in awe of the guy to ask him about his career, but I do recall him being somewhat bitter about past publishers and upbeat about his new contract with Tor. At the time I was too new to the game to realize this attitude more or less went with the territory. Dick Lochte

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