Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: THE KNIFE SLIPPED, by Erle Stanley Gardner

Erle Stanley Gardner
Hard Case Crime, 2016 (1939)
216 pages
Crime / Noir

THE KNIFE SLIPPED is classic, timeless, private eye, noir. Remember guys like Spillane's Mike Hammer, and Chandler's Marlowe? Yeah. Gardner was before them. Erle Stanley Gardner wrote under many pen names. He was also the creator of the Perry Mason novels, and short stories. THE KNIFE SLIPPED was supposed to be the 2nd book in the Cool & Lam Mystery series. but because of Bertha Cool's sassy, vulgar, smoking behavior, the publishers nixed the idea. Interesting, right? Very!

Hard Case Crime is the first ever to publish THE KNIFE SLIPPED. That alone is exciting. What is more exciting is how wonderful the book is!

Most private detective agencies won't touch two kinds of cases. Divorce matters, and anything political. Most agencies, but not B. Cool Investigations. Donald Lam is kind of new on the job. Making ends meet isn't always a guarantee with B. Cool, so when Bertha Cool gives him a divorce case, he's up for the challenge.

Mother, Mrs. Atterby, and daughter, Mrs, Cunner, need a detective. They are certain Eben Cunner is stepping out on his wife. They want proof. Something they can take to the lawyers. Divorce will be inevitable. After laying down the agency rules, the agreement is made and Donald Lam is on the job.

Following Eben is simple enough. The complication comes alone when it appears Eben is leading a secret life. Only, it might be worse than Atterby and his wife first suspected.

Submerged in bribes, and politics that involve the police force, the fire departments, and people with clout, Donald Lam finds himself in a bit over his head. When a body is discovered, Donald realizes he has become the fall guy. If he can't figure out who the killer is doing time in prison is what he faces.

Chasing down red herrings, and never sure who can be trusted, Donald does his best to maneuver between the traps in the case, his boss, and a new love interest. There isn't much time. The police are closing in. He needs to focus and find answers. Fast!

I will be hunting down Gardner books. And A.A. Fair books (which the rest of the Cool & Lam Mystery titles are penned under). The guys is smooth. The characters well crafted. The plot was tight, plausible. And like I said earlier, timeless (except for the use of payphones, that is). A fantastic book I loved reading, and a treasure Hard Case Crime uncovered!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy  

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