Money in the bank had always been a persuasive factor in Bertha Cool's life - and Lamont Hawley represented a lot of it. He also represented an insurance company that smelled a rat about a traffic-accident claim. The trouble was the claimant had drifted away - a beautiful blonde who had been co-operative and level-headed. In fact, too level-headed ... she sounded almost professional.
Donald Lam didn't like it. Why should a large insurance company need an outside investigator? But Bertha's eyes see $$$ so Donald gets cracking, and within no time he is the prime suspect. For what on earth is a body doing in the trunk of Donald's car?
A car accident in Colinda, Calif., drives this appealing Cool and Lam caper from Gardner (1889 1970), first published in 1961. The chunky Berta Cool, the head of the Cool Detective Agency, believes she's got a line on some respectable detective work that's easier and more lucrative than her agency's usual dangerous jobs. An insurance company wants the agency to look into the sudden disappearance of Vivian Deshler, who was involved in the accident and was considering making a claim. The diminutive Donald Lam, Cool's employee, drives to Colinda, where he encounters a bevy of short-skirted babes and suspicious activity in the sales offices of a subdivision development. Lam spends a lot of time driving around, until a local cop tries to pin a murder on him, and then he must perform the obligatory clearing of his name. Overall, this is a quieter case than usual for Lam. Instead of getting the snot beaten out of him, he's only knocked out once by a clean punch. This is just the ticket for fans of retro crime fiction.