SHELLSHOCK by Richard S. Prather


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Revered by older private-eye buffs for his sexy, comic Shell Scott adventures of the 1950's and 1960's, Prather has added a few contemporary touches--computers and VCRs--but mostly offers the same old formula, now wildly dated: buxom babes, pseudoRunyonesque dialogue, and limp humor that leans heavily on jokes about the shamus' epic hangovers and tasteless outfits. This time L.A. sleuth Scott is hired by Arizona tycoon and ex-gangster Claude Romanelle--who's hankering for a reunion with his long-lost daughter Spree. The missing heiress is quickly found, thanks to the butterfly birthmark on her ""astonishing, magnificent, superabundant breasts."" But when Scott escorts gorgeous Spree to Scottsdale, it's danger time, of course: thugs pursue them; an imposter posing as Romanelle nearly kills them. The real Romanelle, it turns out, has been kidnapped by some nasty Arizona mafiosi--who are electro-torturing the tycoon (for dullishly complex reasons, explained at tedious length) in a creepy hospital. So Scott has to rescue Romanelle, who's brought back to health by a local homeopath. And before the Final showdown--hand-to-hand combat with the 300-lb. super-villain--Scott himself will be electro-tortured: an opportunity for the always-verbose narration to expand into pages of oozing stream-of-consciousness. Harmless silliness for the nostalgic, perhaps, but most readers will find this a painfully belabored (352 pp.) exercise in encrusted clichÉs and not-quite-parody.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1987
ISBN: 0000061697
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's