DAGGER OF FLESH has an interesting history. It started life as a Shell Scott manuscript and was originally pased on by Gold Medal. Never one to waste anything, Prather rewrote it to feature a PI named Mark Hogan and it was sold to a publisher named Falcon. They rewrote it without consulting or asking Prather and published it, much to his dissatisfaction. That was in 1952. Over the next few years, Prather began to sell well(the only PI of the era that sold better was Mike Hammer) and Gold Medal wanted all Prathers under their banner.
There had been two Shell manuscripts passed on by Gold Medal and both had been converted to different characters and resold. In The Ultimate Richard S. Prather Interview, the author states that both DAGGER OF FLESH and PATTERN FOR PANIC were republished by Gold Medal as Shell Scott novels. That’s what I’d believed. I had both versions of Pattern, but had never read DAGGER until I found this copy. It is a Gold Medal and it has the PI as Mark Hogan as in the original publication. Whether this is the same version or his original rewrite I have no idea. One thing I hadn’t remembered from that long ago read of the interview, Prather admitted to a bit of confusion on the subject as his personal library had only the Mark Hogan version of the novel.
I guess that’s why.
With all that, I think I owe Frank Loose an apology. He’d noticed something and on a recent post on Ed Gorman\'s Blog, the subject was broached. I posted a link to a post I’d did on the subject, one I now believe was done in ignorance of the truth. frank had noticed in a sample chapter of the ebook for DAGGER OF FLESH, a Shell Scott novel now, that Shell was described as having curly black hair instead of his white brush cut. It had finally been released as Prather had originally intended, but the copyright holders, instead of using the original manuscript(which I’m sure is still in Prather’s papers), had sloppily changed the Mark Hogan novel, changing the name only throughout the book.
A word on these ebooks and POD novels(I believe). They have the most hideous covers. I’m including the one for the converted DAGGER.
It’s an interesting tale nonetheless.
Mark Hogan is called upon by an old friend from years past, Jay Weather, for help. Someone is trying to buy his business for a tenth of what it’s worth and he’s fighting a compulsion to sell to them. At the same time, he’s started seeing a green parrot that sits on his shoulder every day from noon to one. It sounded crazy and Mark talked to a psychiatrist friend who reflected that it sounded like a post-hypnotic suggestion.
In due course, Jay Weather ends up murdered, Mark’s .357 magnum lying on the floor by the body, and Mark gets his head knocked on a couple of times. Oh, I forgot to mention, in the beginning of the book, Mark is sleeping with a married woman who won’t tell him her last name or where she lives, coming instead to his apartment. Guess who her husband is.
A hypnotist turns up, artist, a hot model, and Jays’ daughter now twenty-one and all grown up, not the child who used to kick him in the shins, and even Mark believing he’s been hypnotized. All in pursuit of the real killer.
I liked it. At the same time, I don’t think it would make a good Shell Scott novel. Much to serious. Could be why Gold Medal passed originally and didn’t make it a Shell novel on their eventual edition.
For more Forgotten Books, check out PATTINASE.