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Posted: June 19, 2022

It’s comforting to read old mystery writers once in a while

Book Review

By Derryll White

Prather, Richard S. (1951).  Find this Woman.

Richard S. Prather (1921-2007) was a mystery novelist who broke away from a job as chief clerk of surplus property to become a full-time writer.  He published more than three dozen Shell Scott mysteries.  Himself a scholarly-looking quiet man, glasses and a pencil-thin mustache, Prather’s central character was a muscular, gun-toting stud.

It is comforting to read one of the old mystery writers once in a while.  There’s not a lot of social commentary or self-examination.  The scenes are different from what we see today.  Instead – babes, booze and bullets!  Prather does not disappoint with this Shell Scott mystery written early in his career (he published his first in 1950).

The bad guys are clear – they come in with saps and guns. Shell is so busy being wowed by all of the beautiful women in Los Vegas that he barely comes out alive. But he has dreams enough for a lifetime, and he has the girl.


Excerpts from the novel:

LAS VEGAS – It was a blaze of lights and colors and neon: gambling halls jammed up against each other on both sides of Fremont from Second on up to Main, for two solid blocks.  Overshadowing all the rest was the big sign above the Golden Nugget on the left, and beyond that the huge mechanical cowboy pointed the way to the Pioneer Club with his animated hand and thumb.  And the Las Vegas Club, the Monte Carlo, the Frontier Club and all the rest.

LOSERS – Most of the people were having fun, but a couple of times at the crap tables I saw faces that were gone, blank, washed-out and empty.  Somebody who’d finished having fun when the fever hit him and he couldn’t stop, couldn’t let go, and it got brutal and the main part of him dried and withered up inside him and he shoved it out there into Mammon’s gaping mouth until there wasn’t any more.  That’s part of Vegas, too…

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at




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