Shell Scott is 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 feels like a walking, talking target. He's not an easy guy to mistake for someone else, with his gray eyes, broken nose and missing ear tip, but who would want to take a shot at such a stunning and attractive man
Something's fishy in the state of Denmark when Shell finds he is dodging bullets and it seems like everyone is holding a smoking gun. This case just might land Shell a new, deluxe residence... in the morgue.
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October 01, 2000
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Excerpt from Everybody Had a Gun by Richard S. Prather
IT'S A FUNNY THING. If you were in the middle of the African veld and heard a couple of high notes from a hot trumpet, you'd undoubtedly think it was some animal sounding off. Or if there were a python hissing on one of the top floors of the Empire State Building, you'd probably think it was an office boy whistling through his teeth.
Maybe that's why, when the first bullet whizzed past my ear right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, it didn't make sense right away, didn't mean anything to me.
I'd just finished forcing down my usual toast-and-coffee breakfast while reading the big black headlines about L.A.'s newest murder -- the killing of one Lobo Le Beau, which looked as if it might lead to violent complications. Then I'd driven up Broadway and parked my ancient yellow Cadillac convertible in front of the Hamilton Building. I sat there a second, blinking sleepily at a hazy world as gray as my gabardine suit.
It was one of those extremely dry, electric Mondays we get sometimes in Southern California after summer is over and before the rains begin, and an east wind had been blowing all morning. We'd had the wind off and on for days now, and everybody was tired of it. It was the kind of irritating breath that dries out the land and the trees, chaps lips, rubs nerves raw, and puts a sharp edge on tempers.
I blinked at Monday, got out of the car, and started angling across the wide sidewalk toward the Hamilton Building and my office, when that first whisper raced past my ear.
It didn't mean a thing. I heard it, wondered what the hell was flying around in the L.A. smog, and kept right on going.
Broadway at ten o'clock in the morning is pretty well filled with people hurrying to one of the big department store sales or stepping out of offices to get coffee, and one of the big orange and green streetcars was rumbling up toward Fourth Street clanging and making a lot of noise, so I didn't even notice the small crash and tinkle as the bullet bored through the plate-glass window of Pete's Bar, next door to the Hamilton Building.
But I took one more step and then I saw the little hole in the glass with the cracks radiating from it and all of a sudden I got it with a jolt that tingled every nerve in my body. My subconscious dredged up the memory of a hundred sounds like that nasty whisper, sounds that I'd heard when I was a Marine in the South Pacific, and I stopped thinking and let my reflexes take over. I dived for a crack in the sidewalk as if it were a foxhole, and I hit the cement rolling. This time I heard a crash as the second shot smacked into the big window over my head, and I scrambled on my hands and knees toward the alley at the left of the Hamilton Building.
It took a second or so, but it finally penetrated. Somebody was trying to turn Shell Scott, private detective, into a six-two corpse with stand-up blond hair and cold, cold blood.
I caught a glimpse of a couple of pedestrians staring open-mouthed at me as I reached the alley and slithered up against the brick wall at its edge. I got my feet under me, dug under my coat, and yanked out my .38 Special, and the guy nearest me stopped staring stupidly, let out a squawk, and disappeared. I could hear his feet slapping the pavement and a little yelp once in a while, getting fainter.