Friday, 15 January 2016

Opening lines: The Wailing Frail by Richard S. Prather, 1956

I bought the ebook edition of The Wailing Frail—the 12th in the popular 40-plus Shell Scott Detective Mystery series by Richard S. Prather—thinking I’d review it for Friday’s Forgotten Books over at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish reading it in time.

Patti is hosting a Richard S. Prather special today and had I finished the book, it’d have been my first by the American mystery novelist who has a cult following among fans of the genre.

I’m a little more than halfway into this hardboiled racy novel and I already like Prather’s style, particularly his use of short sentences that are as crisp as a fried South Indian papad, lines like “Beasley's mouth was working, but he didn't say anything.” He lives much to the reader’s imagination.

I also liked the opening lines a lot. I have a feeling that’s how most of his novels open, with more than just a hint of suspense and humour.

She yanked the door open with a crash and said, "Gran — "but then she stopped and stared at me. She was nude as a noodle.

I stared right back at her.

"Oh!" she squealed. "You're…not Grandma!"

"No," I said, "I'm Shell Scott, and you're not Grandma, either."

She slammed the door in my face.

Yep, I thought, this is the right house. 

 
I will be reviewing The Wailing Frail in coming weeks.

20 comments:

  1. I wonder why I've not heard more about this writer. Need to check him out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charles, I heard about Prather a few years ago though I never read any of his books. This story, as I'm sure others too, is reminiscent of hardboiled mysteries of mid-20th century.

      Delete
  2. Oh, that is certainly quite an opening line, Prashant! Wow! Little wonder you liked it so well. I'm glad you're enjoying the story, and I hope you'll post a review when you've finished it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, those lines instantly tell you what to expect from the author. I like it when writers leave their narrative stamp on their books. The novel is less than 200 pages and I hope to read and review it soon.

      Delete
  3. I read a couple of his novels way back. Liked him then and like him now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oscar, I discovered Prather's work quite recently and I'm looking forward to reading this and some of his other books.

      Delete
  4. Prashant, you'll finish this Shell Scott in record time! All of Prather's books are quick reads!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I thought, George. I will have to rely on his ebooks as I have yet to come across a paper book.

      Delete
  5. Not tried him and I don't think I've got anything by him either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, Prather would be right up your reading alley, I think.

      Delete
  6. You've got me guffawing here, Prashant, and I'm even hungry now for fried South Indian papad (which I've never tried). Glad you're enjoying the read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mathew, "papad" or "papadum" is a South Indian knick-knack that can be had with drinks or as an accompaniment with meals. It can be fried or roasted and can be embellished with spices, onion, and tomatoes.

      Delete
    2. I think maybe I did have papad years ago when I lived in a rooming house at the U. of Wis. with students from India and Pakistan. We all took turns cooking, and I developed quite a taste for curries and the like. If papad was on the menu, I did not know what to call it, but from your description it sounds familiar.

      Delete
    3. Mathew, thanks for sharing that little anecdote about your exposure to Indian and Pakistani cooking. I hope you got to try butter chicken. Papad can be a knick-knack or an appetiser depending on when, or with what, you are having it.

      Delete
    4. Don't think we ever did butter chicken, Prashant, but is sounds delicious. How about a recipe? ;)

      Delete
    5. Mathew, butter chicken is delicious and is to be had with the roti or nan, a traditional Indian flat bread popular in my part of the world as well as in the Middle East and Turkey. I believe a lot of Indian restaurants in the US serve butter chicken.

      Delete
  7. Prashant, I will be looking forward to the full review. This looks like one I will try. I can't read all 40 plus of them though, even if they are fairly short.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy, I have never read Prather before and this one book is already encouraging me to read some of the others in the Shell Scott series.

      Delete
  8. Nice opening! and great cover. Not a writer I am familiar with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Moira. His style is distinctive but then I feel that way about every new author I read.

      Delete