Thursday, September 6, 2018

Detective Donald Lam Is Offered $1500 to Spend a Night in a Motel Room with a Sexy Young Woman

Maybe I was just in the right mood for this book, but it struck me as one of the better entries in A. A. Fair's (Erle Stanley Gardner's) Donald Lam and Bertha Cool series. 

It begins, unusually, with a client coming into the office and actually telling the truth, or a close approximation thereof. On a night when his wife was out of town, the prospective client, Carleton Allen, took a sexy young woman named Sharon Barker to the Bide-a-Wee-Bit Motel for a little fun and games. The young lady registered for the couple while Allen hunkered down in the car, hoping that no one would recognize him. Naturally, she used a phony name and address and made up a license plate number for the motel register.

Allen claims that nothing happened after that, at least not in his room. Before anything did, the young lady took offense at something Allen did and left. Sadly, though, a deputy district attorney named Rolney Fisher wound up dead at the bottom of the motel's pool that night. Now the police are attempting to interview everyone who was registered there at the time.

One would think that Carleton Allen would be in the clear. The cops don't have his real name, his real address or his actual license plate number, and nobody there got a good look at him. For some reason, though, he's nervous and offers to pay $1500.00 to have Donald go back and spend a night in the motel with the sexy Sharon, pretending that he was the man with her on the night the deputy D. A. went head-first into the pool. The cops will interview them, conclude that they know nothing about the death, and that will be the end of it.

Naturally, Bertha's eyes are lighting up at the prospect of an easy $1500.00 payday for the firm, but Donald is leery of getting mixed up in a murder investigation that might cost the firm its license. In the end, he agrees to spend the night with Sharon at the motel, but only on his own terms. And, of course, before the night is out, the fireworks will have begun and as usual, Donald will have to pull every trick he has out of the bag to save himself and the firm

I thought this was a fun read, and it will appeal principally to people who enjoy reading Gardner's work or occasionally going back in time to read a pulp novel from the Golden Age of the genre.

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