Wednesday, June 14, 2017

L. A. Detective Bertha Cool Is Left on Her Own. Trouble Ensues...

The eighth entry in the series featuring L. A. detectives Donald Lam and Bertha Cool is set in 1942. World War II is under way and Donald, the firm's junior partner, is at sea in the Navy, battling America's enemies. Bertha, the senior partner, is at sea too, even though her feet are firmly planted on the ground back in Los Angeles. In spite of what Bertha might often think, Donald is really the brains of the outfit, and without him around, she's floundering badly.

As the book opens, a blind man comes into the office. A young woman who is always very nice to him was struck by a car right in front of the spot where the man sits selling pencils and other things. He's never known the woman's name and he would like Bertha to track her down and make sure that she's all right. When the guy flashes a thick wad of bills to pay the retainer, Bertha figures that this will be easy money in the bank--something that always interests her very much.

But, of course, the job won't be nearly as easy as it seems, especially when Bertha begins scheming to make some extra cash out of the deal. Donald would have this figured out over the lunch hour, but before long, Bertha is in way over her head. Bodies are falling left and right, and who's going to save her now?

This is another entertaining book in the series and it's the first in which police sergeant Frank Sellers makes an appearance. He will become a regular character and Donald's principal nemesis in the later books, much like Sergeant Holcomb is Perry Mason's nemesis in that series. No one will ever confuse Erle Stanley Gardner's novels with great literature, but they are, almost always, a fun way to lose two or three hours in an evening. This book is no exception.

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