Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sixty-One Years of the Shell Scott Mystery Series by Richard S. Prather

It was in 1950 that Richard S. Prather's first Shell Scott mystery novel, The Case of the Vanishing Beauty, was published by Fawcett's Gold Medal Paperback Originals. His successful and best-selling Shell Scott series of thirty-six novels plus four short story collections, published between 1950 and 1987, have sold over 40 million copies in the United States and have enjoyed foreign language publication, selling millions more world-wide. In addition to the Shell Scott mysteries, Richard penned three novels under pseudonyms. He wrote the first Dragnet novel based on the television show, Dragnet, titled, Dragnet: Case No. 561, published under the name, David Knight; used that same pseudonym for the initial publication of Pattern for Murder, later republished by Gold Medal Books as The Scrambled Yeggs by Richard S. Prather; and used the pen name Douglas Ring for The Peddler, which was later republished under his own name by Gold Medal. He also published a number of short stories; and lent his name to the Shell Scott Mystery Magazine.

Richard S. Prather's book, Shellshock, was published in hardcover in 1987 by Tor. He received the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986, and was twice on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America. His Shell Scott mysteries are now back in print with and available as POD paperbacks and ebooks, and a number of his novels are at as unabridged audio books. The Peddler, a non-Shell Scott mystery, is now back in print, published by Hard Case Crime, November 2006.

I met Richard and his wife, Tina, in 1989, when my husband, Don Pendleton and I were vacationing in Sedona, AZ. Don and Richard had shared the same literary agent for a number of years, yet the two of them had never met. Don picked up the telephone and called Richard and we spent a delightful evening with them at their home.

About five years later, Don and I moved to Sedona, so we often got together with Richard and Tina.

Richard had given me a wonderful endorsement quote for my first Catherine Winter PI novel, Shattered Lens, and encouraged me to make it a series, which I have done. Fractured Image is the second book in the series and I hope there will be more Catherine Winter in the future.

In 2006, I asked Richard if I could do an interview with him. We did it by mail, and due to his declining health, it did take some time. I published the long interview in December 2006. During that time, Richard asked me to take his unpublished 1,000 page manuscript, The Death Gods, at his death and to do my best to market it. Following his death in February, 2007, I received the manuscript, all 1,000 pages, only a few of those pages typed, the balance, handwritten with lots of his blue felt pen notes squeezed between lines.

The task seemed overwhelming and due to the length, agents and publishers did not find it an attractive opportunity. But I did not give up on publishing Richard’s work, as I felt strongly that his fans and new readers should have the opportunity to read the last Shell Scott mystery.

So sixty-one, yes, Sixty-One years after Richard S. Prather’s tough, yet happy-go-lucky, Southern California detective, Shell Scott hit the pages of a book, the last Shell Scott mystery is now in print and in ebook formats. I am pleased with his story, with the book and with the cover I designed with Judy Bullard. I hope readers will enjoy Richard S. Prather’s last creation.

Read more here

Richard S. Prather, The Death Gods, Shell Scott

Exclusive Interview with Richard S. Prather by Linda Pendleton, at Kindle


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