Friday, January 15, 2016

FFB Review: "The Cheim Maunscript: A Shell Scott Novel" by Richard S. Prather

Patti Abbott declared today to be Richard S. Prather day on her blog for FFB. In addition to my on topic review below, there will be numerous other Prather reviews on and linked to at her blog. I believe that includes a review from Barry. Lots of other good stuff will be over there as well so get your Friday started right by heading over to Patti’s blog

Mrs. Gladys Jellicoe has a serious problem and needs the help of private detective Shell Scott. He has come to her home in the Hollywood Hills from his office in the Hamilton Building on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles this warm September morning in response to her phone call. While she may have called him because she appears to be extremely well preserved--- much like a mummy-- apparently the real reason she called is the fact that her ex-husband is missing.

She believes him to be dead. Wilfred Jefferson Jellicoe is supposed to send her a monthly alimony check of three thousand dollars on or before the first of the month. “Jelly” as she calls him has now missed two payments. She has done some checking around of her own and has determined that he has not been seen at the Cavendish House in Hollywood for several days now. That is where he has been staying recently and he has not checked out. She has no idea where her ex-husband, at one time the assistant to legendary Hollywood movie mogul Gideon Cheim is, or why Jelly’s wallet was found in a seedy nightclub known as “The Panther Room.”

While she thinks Shell Scott’s going rate of one hundred dollars a day is rather expensive, she wants her missing alimony money as well as to find Jelly. She grudgingly agrees to pay and Shell Scott is on the case. One that will take him all across the Los Angeles area, into some adult activities with certain beautiful ladies, and a number of violent confrontations with several less than savory characters. That is when he isn’t smoking, drinking, or discussing things with the local cops.

Set in the 60’s, Shell Scott is the classic “man’s man.” He does it all and then some while making sure to be one step ahead of the bad and good guys alike. A fun read, The Cheim Manuscript: A Shell Scott Novel, twists and turns its way through 200 pages plus of mayhem and chaos all done with a slightly sarcastic tone. My first experience with a Shell Scott novel was highly entertaining and well worth the read.

The Cheim Manuscript: A Shell Scott Novel
Richard S. Prather
Pocket Books
February 1969
215 Pages

This paperback was supplied by Barry Ergang years ago for me to read and review. He has been hounding me every so often about it ever since. In conniving desperation, Barry enlisted the unwitting assistance of Patti Abbott who declared that Richard S. Prather would be the focus for FFB today. One could almost hear Barry’s gleeful laughter as he turned up the pressure. 

Richard S. Prather and the Shell Scott series have been a frequent topic here with Barry and occasionally Patrick Ohl. Other reviews are Pattern For Panic, Case Of The Vanishing Beauty, Double In Trouble, Strip for Murder, and The Death Gods   as well as short stories in anthologies such as The Masters of Noir Volume 1, as well as Volume 4, and The Best From Manhunt.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016


Barry Ergang said...

"Mwa-ha-ha-ha!" he cackled, rubbing his hands together gleefully. "I'm glad you finally read it and, even more, that you enjoyed it."

Kevin R. Tipple said...

That I did. Thank you for the read.

Todd Mason said...

Sounds like a typical Prather story, even with the oddly sedate title. I forgot to mention how Scott gets way too much press in some of the stories to leave him effective as a PI.

Barry left me a nice note on my blog, and since that can't go unpunished, here's a troublesome request:
Beverly is always up for a good conversation...sadly, since I haven't worked in Radnor for about a year now, I haven't dropped in much. THE TITLE PAGE remains a very impressive collection.

The Crime Fiction Index could use your help, Barry...could you provide the contents information, via photocopy or otherwise, for the following early issues of FUTURES?

Futures Missing: #2; #3; #6

Mathew Paust said...

Isn't a "slightly sarcastic tone" pretty much de rigueur for genre P.I.s, Kevin? I think one of the things I liked especially about Shellshock was the refreshing departure from this trope. He's a smartass, but his irreverence seems more self-directed than judgmental toward others. Unless that's what you meant. But then a lot can happen in 27 years.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Have not read SHELLSHOCK yet. This was my first.

It struck me as aimed mainly at himself though a bit at others as well. Especially in terms of the mob guys. That angle also seemed more upfront and better done than what is in the modern books.