Shell Scott has been dealt a really lousy hand and the stakes are somebody's life ' probably his. What will the luck of the draw bring to our hard-boiled hero Will Shell find the culprit in this full house of crooks and cons or will the queen of hearts call his bluff
A four of a kind is no match for a .44 slug in this all-hours game of guns and girls, guts and grit, life and death. Here the women are crazy and the joker's wild, but so is Shell Scott!
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May 01, 2002
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Excerpt from Joker in the Deck by Richard S. Prather
The more some things change, as the saying goes, the more they stay the same. For example--just for fun--take sex.
Here I was, standing near the swimming pool clutching a bourbon-and-water highball, and over by the snack bar were Adam and Eve.
This Eve was a long-legged, voluptuous-looking, slinky, busty, hippy bomb, an Adam bomb, and the very male male was Adam Preston, and this was the twentieth century--so it was the twentieth century: he still looked like a man gnashing fig leaves and it was eight to five she was giving him that old Garden-of-Eden applesauce. The way they were carrying on you just knew those original sinners must have had a pretty good idea in the first place. At least, I'd say so.
But I'd say so anyway; I'm Shell Scott.
I'm a private detective, but for a change I wasn't detecting much of anything, except what was going on over by the snack bar, which even a blind non-detective couldn't very easily have missed. Instead, on this balmy Saturday night, the fifteenth of June, I was sixty miles from Sheldon Scott, Investigations--my one-man office in downtown Los Angeles--enjoying myself in Laguna Beach at the newest and jazziest land development on the explosively booming Southern California coast: 1500 acres stretching from the sea up into the low Laguna hills, complete with paved roads, underground utilities, an eighteen-hole golf course, subdivisions containing hundreds of king-size lots, and two dozen model homes ready and waiting for anybody with lots of money.
The whole thing was the joint project and promotion of the aforementioned Adam Preston, and my long-time friend, drinking partner, and lively companion, Jim Paradise. Since Jim, who had invited me down here tonight, was the prime mover and major investor in the project, it was called, appropriately enough, Laguna Paradise.
Jim and I were standing among fifty people or so on the cement deck of a blue-lighted swimming pool before one of the luxurious model homes, and three or four hundred more citizens were milling about on the grounds nearby. Two hundred yards west was the ocean, and midway between the crashing surf and the spot where Jim and I stood was the main sales office of Laguna Paradise.