Lost for more than 75 years, The Knife Slipped was meant to be the second book in the series, but shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities—however shocking for 1939—shines today as a glorious present from the past, a return to the heyday of private eyes and shady dames, of powerful criminals, crooked cops, blazing dialogue, and delicious plot twists.
Donald Lam has never been cooler—not even when played by Frank Sinatra on the U.S. Steel Hour of Mystery in 1946. Bertha Cool has never been tougher. And Erle Stanley Gardner has never been better.
A gumshoe assigned to work a simple divorce case ends up accused of murder in this fast, often funny crime novel, written in 1939 but not published until now. On the run from the law, the detective is the diminutive but tough Donald Lam, who works for the enormous Bertha Cool ("She was a wise baby, was Bertha Cool") in Yucca City in what may be California. Constantly counting odds and ways to play them, Bertha figures she can take a cut out of the case of police corruption that Lam has tumbled to, if the knife doesn't slip and if her operative doesn't fall for the dame who makes for their best suspect. The prolific Gardner published 29 novels about Cool and Lam (and more than 80 featuring lawyer Perry Mason). As Russell Atwood (Losers Live Longer) explains in his afterword, this case was to have been the second in the series, but when the publisher nixed it, Gardner just wrote 27 more. For fans of classic hard-boiled whodunits, this is a time machine back to an exuberant era of snappy patter, stakeouts, and double-crosses.
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Love old a.a. Fair books!
Found old a.a.fair paperbacks when my grandpa died in 1974. Couldn't find any others until iBooks put on line! And to find one that wasn't distributed...great!