Top of the Heap by Earl Stanley Gardner
A Cool & Lam mystery
Republished by Hard Case Crime
Originally published in 1952
The Los Angles Detective agency of Cool & Lam are hired to help flesh out a sham alibi, only investigator Don Lam is to smart to just do what he’s asked. Soon he is at work uncovering the real story behind the need of the alibi, and making his way though the underworld of San Francisco. This is a thinking story; it’s a puzzle, with a hard boiled edge. The action in the book is pretty minor, the gun play off stage and the banter of the need to know variety….. all that said, this was a fun and fast read, it perfectly captures the pulp format of it’s era, and while I can sit here more than 50 years later wishing that it was a little tougher, a little more Moonlighting, and a tad more edgy, I am glad to have spent time with Cool & Lam… ok mostly Lam… and look forward to checking out more of their exploits, and seeing how their tales change and morph and they author makes his way through the 50’s and into the 60’s, dealing with and reflecting the changes not only in the expectations from the paperback market, but also the coming of rock and roll and the drug culture.