Re: RARA-AVIS: Question for Prather fans

Date: 08 Feb 2003


Re your question below:

> I've found these Prather novels available. Are any
> 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 of them.

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 California.

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 sacrifice.


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