Wilfred Jefferson Jellicoe is nowhere to be found. And the person missing him most, his ex-wife, hires Shell Scott to find him. Though alimony payments may be her motive to pursue his trail, Hollywood producer, Gideon Cheim, has another reason for calling on Scott to track this man down. For Cheim has entrusted Jellicoe with his autobiography only to be published post- mortem. Is it coincidental that the Cheim manuscript has disappeared with the man responsible for it while Cheim lies in his hospital bed nearing death Scott doubts that - and is determined to discover what it is that his clients are really in search of -- the man, or
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January 01, 2003
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Excerpt from The Cheim Manuscript by Richard S. Prather
They say time will tell, and on Mrs. Gladys Jellicoe it had spilled everything. She was about fifty years old and quite well preserved: she looked like a mummy. Her eyes were the color of coffee with the grounds still in it, and her hair was the same interesting shade as her eyes; she had a face to unwind cuckoo clocks and a shape like an old girdle.
She didn't exactly turn me on, since it is my habit to dally whenever possible in the company of lasses crammed with zip and sizzle, gals with flashing eyes and flaming hair, lovelies who pooch and pout and sway and wiggle. Among other things.
So what was I -- healthy, hot-blooded Shell Scott -- doing here in the Hollywood Hills with my hot blood cooling, conversing with Mrs. Jellicoe, becoming slightly nauseous with Mrs. Jellicoe?
Well, it was business.
No, I am not a mortician. Or the world's most optimistic beautician. I'm a private detective.
The business is Sheldon Scott, Investigations -- office up one floor in the Hamilton Building on Broadway in downtown LA -- and the investigations are of burglary, robbery, blackmail, murder, missing persons, assault, battery, you name it. I've handled half the crimes listed in the California Penal Code, including 578 P.C. (Issuing Fictitious Warehouse Receipts) and 653 P.C. (Tattooing of a Minor), and nine times out of ten, merely by considering the way a case begins -- from its opening notes, so to speak: notes sweet or sour, dulcet or discordant -- I can tell what the rest of the case will be like, how it will develop, how it will end.
This time, I presumed, after further nausea and excruciating pain, I would get crushed to death between two garbage trucks. If, of course, I took the case. Which didn't seem likely -- unless it was something very, very simple, that is. This time I had no intention of becoming involved with the hoodlums and thieves and killers that ordinarily seem to be my lot.
There were three reasons for this very sensible attitude. First, on the previous evening I had been with a gorgeous blonde until 4 a.m., and had thus managed to get less than three hours of sleep. Second, my last case had been simply lousy with hoods and thugs and various bad eggs, most of them members of the so-called Jimmy Violet Gang. True, there was no longer any Jimmy Violet Gang, but I had not escaped unscathed. In fact, I'd wound up in the clink myself. Third, there seemed to be trouble of a more than mild nature beginning between two of LA's remaining collections of thugs and heavies.
The two most significant such groups now active in the area were headed, in one case, by a cold-eyed creep named Eddy Lash, and, in the other, by a more pleasant-looking but no less cold-blooded killer named Mac Kiffer. And only yesterday, Sunday, somebody had sent three slugs whistling past Mac Kiffer's head. The wire -- that is, the underworld "wireless," which is almost as speedy and sometimes as accurate as Western Union -- had it that one of Eddy Lash's torpedoes had tossed the pills at Mac.