RICHARD S. PRATHER “Sinner’s Alley.” Shell Scott. First published in Have Gat — Will Travel. Reprinted in The Young Punks, edited by Leo Margulies (Pyramid G271, paperback original, 1957).

   This story takes LA-based PI Shell Scott out of his usual milieu of young blonde and busty Hollywood starlets into the much edgier world of juvenile delinquency, or hoodlums on the loose. Even though the latter come straight from standard casting, they sure give Shell Scott Scott all he can handle, if not more.

   His client is a man whose daughter has been found murdered and raped, her face so badly damaged that Shell is the one who has to identify her in the morgue. His boiling point is so over the top that he makes the bad mistake of trying to confront the young hoods in their den. Not a good idea.

   The resulting couple of melees are well choreographed, I can tell you that. You needn’t worry that the equally tough Shell Scott will come out on top in this one or not, though, but in the telling, there’s not much humor in this one. Prather plays it straight and tense until the very end, when — well, I won’t tell you, but the ending does fit the pattern of most of his fiction after all.

Postscript:   The subject matter of The Young Punks, the anthology n which I read this one should be obvious from the title. Most of the stories come from Manhunt, written by such authors as Gil Brewer, Evan Hunter, Richard Deming, Jonathan Craig and so on. It’s well wortht he small amount of money it would take to obtain a copy today, if JD fiction has any kind of appeal to you at all.