SHE PLAYED THE ODDS AND LOST When the beautiful girlfriend of a notorious gangster vanishes, the last man to be seen with her needs an alibi and fast Enter Donald Lam of the Cool Lam detective agency But his clients story doesnt add up, and soon Lams uncovered a mining scam, an illegal casino, and a double homicide And a chance for an enterprising private eye to make a small fortune if he can just stay alive long enough to cash in on it The Return of the Legendary, Long out of print Cool Lam Mystery series

15 thoughts on “Top of the Heap (Cool and Lam Book 3) (English Edition)

  1. WillyR WillyR says:

    Erle Stanley Gardner war bis zu seinem Tod 1970 einer der produktivsten amerikanischen Krimiautoren Bekannt durch seine Romane um den Rechtsanwalt Perry Mason, hat er jedoch auch unter dem Pseudonym A.A Fair das gegens tzliche Privatdetektivduo Donald Lam und Bertha Cool geschaffen, welche zwischen 1939 und 1970 die Helden von insgesamt 29 B chern waren Der Krimi Top Of The Heap aus dem Jahr 1953, jetzt in der Taschenbuch Reihe Hard Case Crime endlich wiederver ffentlicht, geh rt zu den H hepunkten der Serie, welche in der Hardboild Tradition steht Detektiv Lam soll darin das Alibi eines Klienten absichern, was ihm auch ohne Probleme gelingt Irgendwie zu schnell und zu einfach, was sein Mi trauen weckt Er forsch weiter und st t auf einen gro angelegten Betrugsfall, zwei Morde und die M glichkeit das eine Menge Geld zu verdienen, falls er lange genug berlebt Spannend und witzig zu lesen Leider zur Zeit nur auf Englisch erh ltlich.

  2. James M. Rawley James M. Rawley says:

    The Kindle edition has words missing here and there, as much as half a sentence five times for sure, and perhaps as much as a paragraph in those same places Gardner repeats himself enough that the gaps don t matter, even the gap that is in the solution, but still that s a mild annoyance It s especially sad because Hard Case is a good publisher of new and old hard boiled crime novels, and there was some attempt here to make the Kindle classy as well for example, X Ray was enabled Text X ray in this case didn t add much doing word search on characters names got the reader information a little bit quicker, but we can see Hard Case was trying Too bad its efforts didn t quite pay off.The book itself is one of the best of the Donald Lam Bertha Cool series Lam takes way too many chances, so many that he has to talk about how lucky he s been several times, always a bad sign from a first person narrator who is billed as smarter than anybody Apart from that a common problem when hard boiled stories strain for excitement the book is excellent, complex without being confusing and showing Gardner s usual effortless fast pace.Buy the Kindle or, even better, get the paperback with its great faux forties paperback cover.

  3. Dave Wilde Dave Wilde says:

    Erle Stanley Gardner is a lawyer who ran his law practice in Ventura, California However, it is not clear how he ever found time to practice law He is best known as the author of the Perry Mason series, which eventually became the basis for several feature length films, a 12 year run of a radio program, and a television show starring Raymond Burr There were, in all, eighty two count them Perry Mason novels Gardner was one of the best selling authors of all time.Gardner also wrote a mere 29 books in the Cool and Lam series under the pen name A.A Fair Bertha Cool and Donald Lam are partners in the private eye business Top of the Heap was originally published in 1952 and has now been re issued as part of the Hard Case Crime series It is a truly excellent hardboiled detective novel It does not focus on flowery descriptions, but is filled with action from page one right through to the end It was an enjoyable, quick read, and, if Gardner s other work is anything like this, sign me up for the reading list.The plot is a little complicated, but it involves a John Carver Billings II demanding to see the senior partner of the firm It seems that a mobster s girlfiend has disappeared after he was shot at and, at some point in the evening, Billings was in her company, before she ditched him in a club He says he left the club with two other women from San Francisco, that they went to a motel on Supelveda, but they were gone in the morning and he wants to know who they were because he wants to prove that he was not involved in any shenanigans involving the mobster s girlfriend.Cool is happy to get a high paying client, but Lam is cautious about it and does not think it makes a lot of sense, particularly after he finds a clue in the motel room several days after his client vacated the room Lam flies up to San Francisco to confront the girls and is convinced that his firm is being used to produce a phony alibi, but just what is being covered up and why Lam does not like being used like this and is not going to stop until he gets to the bottom of it, even if Billings uses his influence to stop payment on the check he gave the firm and files charges to get Lam s license pulled.Ultimately, there is a lot of stuff that Lam uncovers, including a number of bodies, gangsters, gambling houses, point shaving, a former stripper now a rich widow, and phantom gold mines that are used to funnel money from gambling winnings.This work feels in many ways typical of many of the hardboiled detective novels of the 1950s with a lone man going against criminals and the law, convinced of the justice of his own cause I have not previously read any of Gardner s work so I found myself pleasantly surprised at how good it was Few books flow this smoothly and quickly with little pause in the action Given the enormous output of Gardner over the years, it is surprising how good his work really was.I highly recommend this one It is, indeed, the top of the heap.

  4. Miss Barbara Miss Barbara says:

    Hard Case Crime has reached in the grab bag of classic hardboiled noir and in this, their third publication, reissued a winner Erle Stanley Gardner, writing as A.A Fair, originally published Top of the Heap in 1952 Gardner, himself, was kicked out of law school after a month but nevertheless passed the bar in 1911 and practiced until 1933 This, no doubt, gave him the insight to craft such realism into the body of crime novels he wrote under many Pen Names This book is one of the Lam Cool Detective Agency books that were a popular series early in his career This series was way ahead of its time in many ways including a woman, Bertha Cool, running the agency and Donald Lam being her hired man Bertha is described as a big woman except she was hard as a roll of barbed wire.In this particular edition Lam gets wrapped up in the disappearance of the girlfriend of a gangster and the firm is hired by a man who needs an alibi He runs into a web of characters who pull him into San Francisco, a mining scam, a stripper with a heart of gold, an illegal casino, a yacht club and murders scattered here and there.The story was crafted by a master but the setting of 1952 only added to the enjoyment The slang scattered through the book was charming and allowed the reader to immerse themselves in the time place Lam was told to go roll his hoop when his boss was surprised she s let out with a fry me for an oyster when assessing a suspect Lam described him as His voice was like cold linoleum on bare feet It doesn t get better than this.Top of the Heap is pulp noir fiction at its best Don t miss this one.

  5. Westley Westley says:

    Top of the Heap is the third entry in the fantastic Hard Case Crime series I really love the series, although many of the individual books are simply average, like this one Written by Erle Stanley Gardner using the pseudonym A A Fair, the book is part of the Cool and Lam series and first published in 1952 Donald Lam is a private eye in business with the hectoring Bertha Cool B Cool When Lam takes on a seemingly simple case involving a young heir looking for a woman he met at a bar, he ends up involved in gangsters and plenty of shady business As such, Top of the Heap is pretty typical crime noir, and it gets off to a terrific start.Unfortunately, the book becomes surprisingly talky Instead of doing much sleuthing, Lam has numerous prolonged conversations whereby he tries to guess what s happening The action starts to lag and so did my interest I also was disappointed that Bertha didn t play prominently in the action she seems like an interesting character her greed and temper contrasting nicely with the slick, laid back Lam Most of the Cool and Lam series are out of print, so I m glad that Hard Case Crime published one of the books, although it would have been nice if it was the first in the series looks like Top of the Heap was the 13th of 29 books in the series I enjoyed the book enough to overlook some of the talkier sections, and Gardner s eye for clever crime noir dialogue is always solid.This review is of the Kindle version, although I also have the paperback The text of the e book is generally good, and I found only a few errors Of course, one of the most exciting aspects of the Hard Case Crime books is their brilliant covers, which are so evocative of the golden age of crime noir novels This Kindle version includes the cover depicted on the paperback, although without the vibrant color, the picture clearly is not as effective.

  6. JR JR says:

    Cool and Lam are Erle Stanley Gardner s best and most enjoyable series in my opinion I love Perry Mason and have read most of them, if not all.PM is almost its own genre But the creating what amounts to two story parts into a novel with the requisite three parts, limits sometimes limits the depth of the plot.Cool and Lam novels go all the way in developing the convoluted and bringing it to a brilliant conclusion Gardner s Cool and Lam read like Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett than his Perry Mason novels.I thought I had read all of the Cool and Lam novels until I ran across this one I was thoroughly entertained and satisfied with this novel I was also delighted that brought it to Kindle, though I would buy the hard copy just to have it and read As I said, I didn t know it existed.I m not going to do a book report I want you to experience the plot as it unfolds with no preconceived ideas You will find the mystery interesting and the read enjoyable.

  7. Richard B. Schwartz Richard B. Schwartz says:

    Of course, many already have, decades ago Top of the Heap is a representative entry from the Bertha Cool and Donald Lam series Bertha is the foul mouthed, dictatorial partner, Lam the streetsmart investigator who does the bulk of the work In Top of the Heap Cool and Lam represent a man in search of an alibi, an alibi attached to a string of actions which are themselves tied to another string of actions The plot is immensely complex, though Lam explains it all, succinctly and lucidly, at the end This is the kind of ending that many of the viewers of Lost are hoping for I am writing a few weeks before that series conclusion but are highly unlikely to receive.Cool and Lam are based in Los Angeles, but Top of the Heap takes Lam to San Francisco, where the bulk of the action occurs That action includes murder, gambling, laundered money, organized crime, lifestyles of the rich and famous, a yacht marina, a succession of attractive women and a gold mine As I said, it s very complex.While the story is marked by multiple incidents and misdirection, all is finally resolved Lam is likeable, though his explanation of the case seems disproportionate to what he has actually seen and learned It is that kind of book, with all segments of the narrative building to the revelations at the end Gardner is here writing as A A Fair and while many will prefer the Perry Mason books, this is still impressive work I especially enjoyed the period details, Gardner s take on the San Francisco settings and most of all the value of the dollar lo those many years ago.

  8. Rick Ollerman Rick Ollerman says:

    Previous reviewers have discussed the plot of this book, and another discussed the Lam Cool series so I don t need to go there This may not be Gardner s best book, it may not even be the best Lam Cool book, but what it is is a wonderful, long unavailable example of a genre that has been too long lost to the past.With the exception of one resounding dud, Hard Case Crime has released and is releasing seminal reprints from the pulp era, as well as new works in the spirit of the same style First of all, anyone who resurrects classics like Top of the Heap has earned as much support as I can give them This may not be your idea of classic literature, but at the very least it s a great read I get similar thrills from reading classic Shadow, Doc Savage, The Spider, and the insidious Fu Manchu novels.Any innovations or stylistic inventions these novels once yielded have long since been seen and absorbed or not into the mainstream What they still offer, and always will, is the same fast paced, breathless entertaining reading experiences that they were intended to be And by masters that helped shape the modern literature of today Top of the Heap is an entertaining read, and if not the best of the Lam Cool series, it is still the first That alone makes it important who wants to read the third and fourth without first reading the first and second Buy the book, enjoy the book, and check out the other Hard Case Crime titles Out of their first six releases, two of them are nominated for Edgar awards they re doing something right.

  9. Kenneth C. Potter Kenneth C. Potter says:

    Lam smells a rat when a rich playboy asks him and Cool to track down a couple of women he spent the night with in an autocourt By pulling the threads, Lam uncovers murders, a hit and run, a stock swindle, mobsters trying to open gambling joints and maritime skullduggery Everyone has an angle, all the women are sexy except of course Cool and every man is a hardboiled tough guy Very entertaining few hours reading this.

  10. Elaine Bailey Elaine Bailey says:

    Fantastic tale with a dogged sleuth A product of its time, as they say, in its casually racist and misogynist scenes and view, and its stereotype of gays For the era, Gardner was much less so than a good many of his contemporaries Fun Non stupid Tied to logic and real law.

  11. Khirul Khirul says:

    The Cool and Lam team consists of the man who does everything, including making business decisions without so much as informing his partner, and Bertha who only maintains office space and swears colorfully Very disappointing when you expect an ahead of its time female role.The plot is otherwise OK and the writing sometimes amusing.

  12. Craig Craig says:

    A client walks into the office of Cool Lam Investigations with a wild tale He picked up a beautiful young redhead at a bar last Tuesday, but she slipped away from him at a second club a few hours later He ended up going to a hotel with two other women that night Now, the redhead has turned out to be the missing girlfriend of a notorious gangster The client wants Lam to locate the two other women in order to establish his alibi.Donald Lam manages to find the girls and complete the assignment in only a couple of days, but the details don t add up Something is amiss He keeps digging and uncovers an illegal gambling operation, a money laundering scheme, and a multiple murder mystery.Charles Ardai, editor of Hard Case Crime, seems to have an affection for the Cool Lam novels he has republished three of them but I cannot see the appeal myself This book has little in the way of engaging characters The plot is utterly convoluted, implausible with only the thinnest veneer of sophistication Almost every scene is the same Lam confronts a suspect with vague suspicions and threats, and they immediately spill everything they know.I suspect any allure of these books is due to the hard boiled atmosphere and the 1940 s 50 s setting, a time before DNA evidence when hotel clerks would not rent a room to an unmarried couple but a pharmacist would give out patients names and home addresses.I suppose in the right frame of mind, I may have been able to appreciate this book solely for its nostalgic properties, but I was hoping for something .

  13. Louis Anderson Louis Anderson says:

    Didn t care for Lam s disregard of legalities and his hairbreadth escape..

  14. Wahoo Wahoo says:

    I think I am being generous with three stars The story itself might warrant three stars, but badly checked Kindle versions of books drive me crazy On at least occasions I spotted dialogue where language must have been deleted in mid sentence, the speaker was suddenly on a different topic Anyone proofreading this would should have spotted these errors It didn t make it unreadable, but this kind of thing should not be rewarded.On a substantive level, this is not one of E.S.G s best works I generally enjoy Perry Mason, but this story was meh Some parts of the story are a little dated I guess insider trading wasn t illegal back then and I am not impressed with the crime solution having to be explained at length by the main character at the end of the story for things to make sense to the reader Some of the characters were stupid or just plain unbelievable It seemed contrived An easy read on a lazy day, but not memorable.

  15. Lance B. Lance B. says:

    Old school intrigue.