Brett's Books

Dance with the Dead

Oh, yeah!
Let's dance!

Dance with the Dead
by Richard S.Prather
One of the Great Shell Scott Capers

Thoughts Going In

I expect this little ditty to fall somewhere between James Bond and The Executioner. We've got a greying gentleman here (call him a detective... or at least, a tough guy) on the cover, along with some damsel rolling around in the spotlight... likely of a porn movie set.

As I start, I am growing tired (weary, heavy lidded) from reading Latimer. And I am looking for something a little lighter, a little more upbeat. (Note: I post in order completed, not in order begun. Latimer comes next) So, I am hoping for a little gun play, witty dialogue (what makes or breaks such a tale, I will guess, going in), and the bedding of a female character (don't want to call her a lead) or two.

It's a Shell Scott Caper. I have no idea who (or what a) Shell Scott is. But I've been seeing his books (or those of contemporaneous heroes) popping up as of late. So, he was famous in the day... and now, the day has come for his fans to start kicking it (i.e. dying) and their executors (and/or ungrateful children, the illiterate heathens) to send the books to the scrap heap, library free bin, and other used book venues.

I hope it's good.

The real problem is conveying sex... without, you know, conveying sex.

Notable Quotes

A Few Witty Turns of Phrase:

Smog is Death's Halitosis.
Tax Men are America's Storm Troopers.
Strippers are Dancing Ecdysiasts.
A Nasty Surprise is Breaking a Tooth on a Marshmallow.

A Small Sampling of One Liners:

Somebody was going to pay if I had to wade through boiling horse manure swarming with heat-resistant piranhas.
I drank some bourbon-and-water which went down like water-and-water.
It got so bad that when a girl came out to dance the customers didn't yell 'Take it off!' but 'Keep it on!'

And the Metaquote to Set It All Straight:

Plus the inquisitiveness and curiosity of a writer.

Running Thoughts

The Debriefing

This story oozes Mild Titillation from beginning to end. Unfortunately, the world has changed (from the 60s, 1960 to be exact) to the point where images of naked women are a dime a dozen... and downloadable by the thousands from the Internet. And as such, I question how many men still read pulp-fiction for its erotic appeal.

That said, the language is sublime... on occasion. I think the truth is that at first, I (thought I) was settling into a masterpiece, savouring every word and phrase. But at the end, I was just getting through it.

A major reason for this disinterest may have been the fight scenes: they were too specific, too step by step. And therefore, the improbability of every fight was thrust before my eyes in page wide swaths rather than as brief asides.

Finally, to me, to my eye (and ear) the entire story fell apart at the end. I love the twist in the middle. Spoiler Alert! I love it when Shell Scott suffers total amnesia and cannot remember who he is. But from another angle, that is when the story dies, as characters are misnamed, the reader is lied to, and untangling the story at the end requires huge contradictions to what has been previously related. So, the ending wasn't satisfying... or at least, it wasn't satisfying to me.

There is, perhaps, a reason why I would not have named Shell Scott as one of the famous gum-shoe detectives prior to reading this story. He just wasn't that good.

On the other hand, I can see reading (or at least skimming, I'm not very good at skimming, these days) one of his earlier adventures.

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Of course, I have enough books. So, maybe, just maybe, I should stick to the classics, for now?

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