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 to take the job, even when the case is a killer. Martinique was a cool, creamy piece of dynamite with a ten-second fuse and an I.Q. around one hundred sixty. Those were numbers Shell Scott like to play-except in her case they seemed to add up to murder.
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May 01, 2002
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Excerpt from The Sweet Ride by Richard S. Prather
I swung left into Mulberry Drive and headed back toward town, hoping Mayor Everson Fowler's phone call to the local law had taken Sergeant Samuels and Officer Jonah off my tail for good. I was also hoping, with slight unease, that we'd been talking about the same people.
Those two guys--or at least the one I'd gotten an unappetizingly close look at--were sure funny-looking fuzz. And I have been very closely associated, though usually to my profit and pleasure, with one hell of a lot of fuzz.
I was pretty far from my home base, Sheldon Scott, Investigations in downtown L.A., and maybe that fact plus the unaccustomed chill in the Northern California air was responsible for the small knot of tension between my shoulder blades, and the coolness that once in a while spider-stepped along my spine.
There was nothing except that brisk breezy nip to give anyone goose bumps or even mild anxieties. This was the tail end of winter, one of those afternoons when spring steals a March day and shows off a week or two ahead of schedule, the air clean and clear, sun bright in a preposterously blue sky.
I had the front windows of my rented Cadillac rolled down, and the chill breeze, strong enough to bend even my bristle of white-blond hair, felt good on my chops. I'm thirty years old, six-foot-two and two hundred and six solid pounds, healthy, whole, and generally full of vigorous beans. I should have been feeling great despite the several hours of sleep I'd lost during the past week, particularly considering how uncommonly toothsome and friendly were the tomatoes who had helped me lose them.
But I couldn't push that mild, constant uneasiness out of my mind, couldn't shake the occasional prickliness that cobwebbed the nape of my neck. It had started when I first spotted that dark sedan, the odd blue-black color of a beetle's wing, behind me early this morning. And the queer "something" had been bugging me, increasingly, ever since.
I knew what the trouble probably was.
In thirty years of living, and especially during my several years as a private investigator, I had been similarly bugged often enough before to recognize the symptoms. I was missing something. Most likely something very obvious, plain as a wart on a fan-dancer's fanny, something I'd looked smack-dab at but failed to see clearly. Perhaps because, as in the case of the fan-waving dancer, I had not been looking for warts.
I hadn't really been looking for much else, either, not yet. I'd been hired and pleasantly but firmly fired by one client, then swiftly reemployed by one of the wealthiest and--in view of what my fee might now add up to--most generous citizens of Newton. Newton, California, toward which I was now tooling my rented Cad. A slightly offbeat beginning, perhaps, and mildly perplexing, but nothing that struck me as unusually ominous or disturbing. Not, at least, on the surface....