Friday, January 25, 2019

Detective Donald Lam Pays Off a Blackmailer and Trouble Follows in This Novel from A. A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)

A restaurant owner named Nicholas Baffin approaches detective Donald Lam and wants to hire him to pay off a blackmailer. Donald very patiently explains that paying off a blackmailer is always a bad idea that will open the door to all kinds of future problems. Baffin insists that this case is different and that after Donald makes the payoff, Baffin would like to host him, his partner Bertha Cool, and police sergeant Frank Sellers, for an luxurious dinner at his restaurant. This, of course, would be in addition to the large fee that Bertha has set for taking the case.

Donald and the reader both understand that something is way off about Baffin's proposal, but Bertha can see only the money involved and the epicurean feast to follow. The firm takes the case and Donald makes the payoff, attempting to tie up the blackmailer in such a way that he can never come back for a second taste. But all hell breaks loose the next night at the big celebratory dinner, and the whole case goes sideways. Even worse, before all is said and done, the unimaginative Frank Sellers may try to pin a murder rap on Donald.

This is a fairly typical Cool and Lam mystery and those have read many of the twenty-seven earlier books in the series will know exactly what to expect. This is among the better of the latter books in the series, and I enjoyed spending an evening watching Donald try to stay one step ahead of his adversaries and of his own partner.

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