Shell Scott. He's a guy with a pistol in his pocket and murder on his mind. The crime world's public enemy number one, this Casanova is a sucker for a damsel in distress. When a pair of lovely legs saunters into his office, he can't help but take the job, even when the case is a killer. Constanza Carmocha is like a cat in heat; she innocently purrs while scratching your eyes out with her razor-sharp claws. She is a dame skilled in the age-old act of bending men to her will, using no other weapon than her lips and the sensuous curve of her hips. But she had already left behind a trail of dead bodies, and this gal's blaze burns everyone who touches her. Shell's seen his fair share of women, and this one can't have a deeper bag of tricks than he? Or can she?
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October 01, 2000
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Excerpt from Bodies in Bedlam by Richard S. Prather
IT WAS Bedlam, and Babel, and Baghdad galloping, and Lady Godiva in the middle naked as an artificial eye on a white-satin spread. And not a sign of a horse.
It was the United Nations of Hollywood all decked out in masks and sarongs and baggy bloomers and Snug-Fit Pantie Girdles, and the whole thing charged up to "Better Employee Relations" by Magna Studios, producers of the epic epic you'll soon be seeing for sixty-eight cents plus seven cents federal tax at all your neighborhood theatres.
The cameras had stopped rolling in the afternoon on Magna's most recent supercolossal, Cry Cry, and this was the blowout celebrating wrapping the thing up two weeks under schedule.
Me? I was watching Lady Godiva.
And with good reason. Almost everyone here was wearing some kind of costume except the Lady, who warn't no lady. I couldn't have told you who she was, though. She was wearing a mask that covered her face, and I didn't know her that well.
I was wearing a mask, too, but that didn't stop a lot of people from recognizing me. I'm just under six-two and weigh four or five pounds over two hundred, so I stuck up in the air a little higher than most of the guys in the crowd. And the mask didn't help me much; I guess no mask ever will. My busted nose stuck out from underneath it, and above it were my screwy white eyebrows that start up from the middle, then throw a fit and swoop down at the ends like bent-pin fishhooks. The blondish, nearly white hair that I kept about an inch long showed under the tilted rim of my costume hat and finished giving me away to anybody that knew me--and it seemed like there were plenty here that knew me, even if I couldn't recognize them in their fancy outfits.
I was born in L.A. thirty years back and I've spent most of my life, except for four years as a Marine during the most recent World War, right here in L.A. and Hollywood. I sort of grew up alongside the movie industry, and in the process I got to know a lot of the Hollywood boys and girls--from guys on the outside looking in to Harry Feldspen himself, top dog of Magna Studios. Which explains what a private detective was doing at a movie ball.
I'd opened the office--Sheldon Scott, Investigations--in downtown L.A. right after I said a happy good-by to the U.S. Marine Corps. After a few bleak months things picked up and I started making enough money to pay taxes. Then about a year back I'd done a job for Feldspen and he'd remembered me when this party rolled around. He'd been kind enough to phone me and invite me to drop in, unofficially, if I felt like it.
Instead of holding the party on a set or sound stage, Magna had taken over Feldspen's huge Los Angeles mansion for a masked costume ball. Taken over, that is, at the nod of Harry Feldspen. So right now I was sandwiched in at the bar between Paul Clark, a cutter in one of Magna's cutting rooms, and Irv Seeley, a make-up artist.
Paul Clark was about five-ten and well built, with an almost square face and a Bob Hope nose. His eyes were brown and alert in a sunburned face. Clark was a sort of casual friend of mine I'd run into around the studios over the last year or so, but I'd known Irv Seeley four or five years. He was a little guy, about five-six, but what he lost in height he made up in belly. I never asked him, but I'll bet he had his pants specially made so they'd be almost as wide as they were long. He was always neat, though, and smiling genially.