Fri 23 Feb 2007
In case you haven’t read or heard about it already, Stephen Marlowe, author of the Chester Drum series, recently appeared on Ed Gorman’s blog, telling the story of how he and Richard Prather, author of the Shell Scott PI novels, got together and wrote Double in Trouble, their magnum opus in which their two characters met and cracked a case together, after first cracking their heads together, thinking that each of them was on the other side.
The story is fascinating, and by all means, you should go read it. What I don’t know is whether you should read Marlowe’s long reminiscing story first, or to give it some additional background, you might want to read J. Kingston Pierce’s post on The Rap Sheet site before you stop over at Ed’s. Jeff has a great knack of finding a news item elsewhere on the blog and writing about it on his own, adding as he does so a profusion of links and insights to the original post, wherever it may have been. It’s one of the few sites where I stop by everyday, and Ed Gorman’s is another. With his long career in mystery fiction and other genres, Ed knows the authors and the publishers, and he has many well-formed opinions and perspectives of the field, all of which spills over into his daily posts.
Returning to Marlowe and Prather’s work together, I’m not sure if this the first example where two authors joined forces (and characters) in a novel, sharing a joint byline together. In 1963, Stuart Palmer and Craig Rice published People Vs. Withers and Malone, a collection of short stories in which their detectives, Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone either shared or battled wits together. Most of the stories were written before 1959, which is when Double in Trouble first came out, but whether or not that counts, I don’t know.
I’ve asked this question before, I know I have. What I don’t know is if I received an answer or not. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, as some wise philosopher once said.
Here’s another question. Richard Prather’s passing has been widely reported on various blogs and newsgroups, but as far as I know, it has yet to have been noted by the mass media. Why not? If you were to Google “richard prather obituary” as I did just now, the piece I posted on the M*F blog a full week ago today is the first one to come up. Why is that? It looks nice on my resume, I suppose, but come on. I’d agree that at the time of his death Mr. Prather was not a major player in the world of mystery fiction, but he was still certainly a major figure, having sold millions and millions of his (mostly) wacky private eye adventures, second certainly in the 1950s only to Mickey Spillane. Why has the rest of the world ignored his passing?
One more question, and one that’s less of a rant. Prather is gone, but Stephen Marlowe, at the age of 79, is thankfully still with us. Of the major (or even the minor) Gold Medal writers of the 1950s, who else are still alive? Vin Packer (Marijane Meaker) for one, I believe, and she will be 80 this year. Others?