On an email list dedicated to mysteries, another list member reminded me about the characters Bertha Cool and Donald Lam in the books written by A.A. Fair (aka Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason’s creator). Cool & Lam were favorites of mine a long, long time ago (1961 copyright for Shills …) and I wanted to see how well the stories had held up. The three books available from my library are Shills Can’t Cash Chips, Bachelors Get Lonely (1961), and The Count of Nine (1958).
The upshot of Shills … is that Donald is still, in Gardner’s words “a cocky little bastard,” Bertha is still fat and irascible, and panties. By the end of the book I felt that if I read the word “panties” one more time, the book might have wound up thrown against the wall. Granted the book is a creature of its time, contemporaneous with the James Bond stories, but for crying out loud I think the underpants references could have been given a rest.