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. Shell ' s gotten himself into a heap of trouble this time. Jay ' s gotten himself killed, and his corpse is pointing a stiff finger directly at our tenderhearted private dick. Is it possible that he has been hypnotized If so, then maybe the cops won ' t mind that lie about his whereabouts that night. But lying on top of those white sheets with that sexy dame, now that couldn ' t be a figment of his imagination, could it Nah, even Shell Scott can ' t come up with something that juicy.
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September 20, 2004
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Excerpt from Dagger of Flesh by Richard S. Prather
For a long moment, she clung to me, whispering, her lips soft against my throat. They were not words of love, but obscenities, for she was not much given to words of love.
Then the last ripple of emotion shuddered through her flesh and she relaxed, moved away from me and lay quietly with her dark hair tangled against the pillow, her long body nearly as pale as the white sheet beneath it.
She lay on her back without the slightest trace of modesty or shame in her nakedness and stared at me from dark eyes. She didn't speak. We rarely had much to say. Her eyes closed, and in a few moments she was asleep.
A week ago we had met in a bar on Wilshire Boulevard here in Los Angeles. After the first intimate glances and tentative words, all of them charged with meaning as pointed and naked as an unsheathed sword, we had talked for a while. Then, almost automatically, we had come here to my apartment. That was the first time -- it was afternoon then, too -- and now, a week later, I still knew almost nothing about her.
Her name was Gladys, she was about thirty years old, and she was a married woman. That was nearly all of it -- except that from the very beginning she had seemed not quite a stranger to me, as if I had known her or seen her before. She wouldn't talk about her home, her family, her life. It sometimes seemed that there was only one thing she wanted to talk about.
It was another late afternoon, and yellow sunlight slanted through the venetian blinds in the bedroom of my Wilshire Boulevard apartment, splashing alternate fuzzy bands of yellow and warm shadow across her full woman's body. I looked at her nakedness almost with disinterest, and with the slight distaste one sometimes feels for the object of passion when the passion has been satisfied. Perhaps it was more than that, because I didn't like her. She stirred and excited me, but I didn't really like her.
She lay quietly now, her only movement the regular breathing that stirred the lush, heavy curves of maturity, the warm yielding breasts barely moving and the gentle female roundness of her stomach rising and falling slightly with each slow breath. Gladys seemed voracious and predatory even in sleep; she made me think of those cannibal plants that capture live things and devour them.
I had showered and was almost dressed when she awakened. She stretched languorously, catlike.
"Mark," she said, "I die every time. I can't help it."
"You've told me. You'd better get dressed."
She laughed softly. "What a waste of time. Come here."
"Not that late."
I looped the knot in my tie and slid it up under my collar, then strapped on my gun harness and the Magnum and shrugged into my coat.
"What's the matter, Mark?"
"I told you. It's late." I looked at my watch. "It's after six. You've never stayed this late before."
"There has to be a first time."