Book Report: Spill the Jackpot by A.A. Fair (1941, 1962)

Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason novels, used the pseudonym of A.A. Fair to write the Bertha Cool/Donald Lam series (a small set of 20+ books). This is somewhere early in the series, written in 1941 and re-released in the 1960s to capitalize on Gardner’s grown popularity.

The book has all the earmarks of 40s pulp: a hard-boiled detective working on a convoluted plot involving a wealthy young man whose fiancee runs off before their marriage. The father, who disapproved of the marriage, might have had a hand in it, and he hires Cool and Lam to find out why the woman disappeared. The paterfamilias plants evidence he wants the detectives to find, but they go beyond the simple decoy to find the woman, much to the father’s chagrin.

Not before a murder occurs, though, so the detective (Lam) needs to figure out who did it and square it to the best of his belief in justice.

The book’s cock-eyed enough to make it interesting. The main character, Lam, isn’t a good fighter, and every scrap he gets into, he loses. He also doesn’t figure out everything just right, but he makes things as right as he can given his limitations.

This looks to be a cool series that I’ll pursue in the future.

Books mentioned in this review:

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