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Kept Women Can't Quit: A Bertha Cool-Donald Lam Mystery    by A. A. Fair order for
Kept Women Can't Quit
by A. A. Fair
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 1963 (1960)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It's time to re-issue the mysteries Erle Stanley Gardner wrote under the pen name A. A. Fair; I've always enjoyed his tales of L. A. detecting duo, Donald Lam and Bertha Cool. Bertha, 'a hundred and sixty-five pounds of greedy-eyed suspicion', is the senior partner of the PI agency. She's always on Donald's case, though his attractive secretary Elsie Brand does her best to run interference.

Bertha tells the brainy, intuitive Donald there's 'Hell to pay', and as usual with Lam a curvaceous young woman is involved, Hazel Downer by name. The police, in particular Sergeant Frank Sellers (who calls Lam 'Pint-Size' and frequently threatens to take his license), believe she was a partner in a $50,000 heist. Naturally, Donald takes her on as a client. After playing a game of musical trunks, he's arrested by the bullish Sellers in L.A, and then by Inspector Hobart in San Francisco. In between, Lam investigates, interacting mostly with attractive young women. As always, Bertha yells and fusses, but when push comes to shove, she's there for her partner.

Donald Lam infuriates the police, solves the case, and satisfies his lovely client. If you haven't read a Cool-Lam mystery yet, try to dig one out from the library or second-hand store - they're tremendous fun.

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