May 2, 2023
Thought I’d have another, another Cocktail Talk, that is, from this book by A.A. Fair, aka, Erle Stanley Gardner. I just can’t resist a good Benedictine quote! If you missed the Beware the Curves Cocktail Talk Part I, well, don’t miss it any longer (and you might as well catch all the A.A. Fair Cocktail Talks while you’re at it).
“I’m a hell cat,” she said.
She got up to pour more liquor. She was wearing some kind of a filmy white thing. The bottle was getting empty. She had another bottle in the kitchen. She opened the kitchen door to go get the bottle.
Bright lights were on in the kitchen. The lights flooded through the doorway and silhouetted every curve of her figure against the white gossamer.
Halfway through the doorway, she thought of something, turned, and said, “Would you prefer brandy and Benedictine to crème de menthe, Donald?”
I took a little time debating the matter. “You’ve got both?” I asked.
“Yes.” She shifted her position slightly.
The light behind her did its stuff.
“Brandy and Benedictine,” I said. “But just one, Stella.”
–A.A. Fair, Beware the Curves
April 25, 2023
I’ve had a fair (hehe) number at A.A. Fair Cocktail Talks, that being a nom de plume of Erle Stanley Gardner. In those past posts, I go on about how I feel about the author vs. his other self (if that makes sense), and how I feel about various characters and books and all that stuff I know you are dying to go read about. So, do it! Then when back come read this quote from Beware the Curves, a Cool and Lam book (the two detectives that the A.A. Fair side of the personality writes about), and while not my favorite starring them, fun stuff. There’s a murder in the past reopened, lots of double-dealing and lying, ladies, a trial (I sorta wanted Perry Mason to show in the co-mingling of the universes, but alas, no), dirty politics, guns buried in the dirt, and cocktails.
We had a couple of cocktails. She went through the motions of counting calories when it came to ordering dinner, but she surrendered easily to the waiter, the menu, and my suggestions. She had a lobster cocktails, avocado-and-grapefruit salad, cream of tomato soup, filet mignon, a baked potato, and mince pie ala mode.
We went to her apartment, and she brought out a bottle of crème de menthe. She turned the lights down because her eyes hurt after a long day in the office.
–A.A. Fair, Beware the Curves
December 21, 2021
As we wind our way into the final Some Slips Don’t Show Cocktail Talk (by the way: love the book cover here!), we find ourselves back at a situation touched on briefly in the book’s Cocktail Talk Part I (don’t miss Part II, either), where the real star of the series, detective Donald Lam (don’t tell his partner Bertha Cool I said he was the star, though), is getting cuddlier with one of the murder suspects in this here tale. And, as happens in the books (written by Erle Stanley Gardner writing as A.A. Fair), this cuddling, or prelude to cuddling, happens over drinks. Doubles, even.
A waiter came over and she ordered a double Manhattan.
“Single for me,” I said.
“Bring him a double, she said, smiling at the waiter. “I don’t want to get ahead of him.”
The waiter nodded and withdrew.
We nibbled pretzels and did a little verbal sparring until the waiter came back with the Manhattans. They were both doubles.
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
December 14, 2021
Before we dive into our second quote and Cocktail Talk from the Cool and Lam (being Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, the star of this book and others) mystery in question, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you towards the Some Slips Don’t Show Part I Cocktail Talk, and all the Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks (he being the writer of said book, as his Cool and Lam-writing alias A.A. Fair, as well as being the writer of course of some books about a lawyer named Perry Freaking Mason), so you can enjoy more drinking fun, after you enjoy the below (which also gives some nice short insight into the Cool and Lam partnership).
“Fifty-seven smackers in one chunk?” she asked, he voice rasping.
“What’s it for? You could have got that broad drunk on gin at a total cost of five bucks. Why the Champagne?”
“It’s for a painting,” I said. “I bought it. It’s called ‘Sun over the Sahara’ and I’m going to put it in a purple frame and –”
“This is long distance, you drunken idiot,” Bertha screamed at me.
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
December 7, 2021
I have had enough A.A. Fair Cocktail Talks and Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks on the ol’ Spiked Punch for those that don’t know to now know they are the same person, right? Well, the latter, Mr. Erle, is the person I suppose, and the former, Mr. A.A., just a nom de plume (as they say), but I like to hope he at least wore different hats when writing as different people. Anyway, I’ve had a fair (haha!) enough amount of Cocktail Talks as mentioned for you to go back through them to browse my thoughts on the two personas, on the books written by them, and my feelings therein. So, don’t miss that! Cause I’m not going to go over it all here, instead want to jump right in to the drink-y quotes from this book, Some Slips Don’t Show, which stars (as all the A.A. Fair books, I believe) detective Donald Lam, and to a lesser extent, his partner Bertha Cool. In this yarn, they end up with a client who isn’t completely sure if he cheated on his wife while in San Francisco, but may be being blackmailed. Curious! And then there is a murder, and some art, and a modern lady beguiled by the diminutive (in height, somewhat, but not in smarts or stick-tuitive-ness) and dashing Donald, as ladies tend to be. But before said beguiling, there’s background around the client, who it seems had himself a night.
She laughed a throaty, musical laugh. “Trying to play the big, bad wolf was pretty much of a strain on him. He was out of character.”
“I can imagine,” I said. “What happened?”
“He started drinking Champagne like water on top of some fruit punch. The combination didn’t agree with him.”
“So, what happened?”
“He went to the bathroom.”
“Do you have to know all the details?”
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
August 31, 2021
This may be one of the weirdest Cocktail Talks ever! Boom! If you’ve read past Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks, and you should, you’ll already know that I lean towards liking his books written under the pseudonym A.A. Fair (the Donald Lam-Bertha Cool mysteries) better than his more famous Perry Mason books (though as I age, I’ve found more of those I like a little more than expected, too), so that’s not weird. The book has a fair number of twists and turns and unexpectedness happening for PI Lam and jolly moments from PI Cool, with more of the former, but that’s all expected in these yarns, so not weird at all. Though ending in LA, much of the book (which was pubbed in 1942) takes place in lovely New Orleans, and that’s where the weirdness happens. See, I’d expect as a famous writer, and as one fairly meticulous usually, Mr. Gardner would have actually visited that fair city, and spent time on the streets and in the bars and restaurants before writing this book – and had some of the city’s legendary cocktails and highballs and such. And there are many classic libations that trace their histories back to New Orleans! However, when a scene takes place in a bar and PI Lam is ordering drinks, his list of “New Orleans drinks” is bafflingly, oh, boring? Un-New-Orleans-y? Weird? To me, weird. Maybe there was a time in the 40s that people thought of the below as New Orleans drinks? I’m glad it’s not now! But the below Cocktail Talk is still worthy – weird can be fun, too.
We had no more than seated her when the waiter came up for an order.
“Plain whiskey and water,” she said.
“Gin and Coke,” I ordered.
Hale pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Well, let me see. Do you have any really good Cognac?”
I answered for the waiter. “No,” I said. “Since you’re here in New Orleans, why not drink a New Orleans drink? Gin and Seven-Up; Gin and Coke; rum and Coke; or bourbon and Seven-Up?”
–Erle Stanley Gardner (writing as A.A. Fair), Owls Don’t Blink
April 23, 2019
Well, shamus lovers, it was just a few weeks back I think when I had another A.A. Fair Cocktail Talk post from The Knife Slipped
, a recovered-and-printed-for-the-first-time number from the Hard Case crime folks. But I also just finished another A.A. Fair book, You Can Die Laughing
, in old-time-y Pocket Book printing (which I love, too), and it was yet another swell Cool and Lam (Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, that is) yarn, with loads of twists and turns, a murder (or, ?), some fun times, and some smart thinking, and some neat-ness. If you’re scouring the used racks and see it, pick it up. And if you want more on A.A. Fair and his real, even more well-known name, and such, see all the past A.A. Fair posts
. But be sure to read the below B&B beauty before you head off.
There was a juke box in the place and we did a little dancing. She was nice. I held her as close as I dared, and she flashed me a glance from time to time that did things to me. I knew she was still sizing me up, still leading me on.
We had dessert and two B&B’s. I shuddered to think of Bertha’s reaction to the expense account if I didn’t fake it.
We had another B&B, and I decided to fake hell out the expense account.
–A.A. Fair, You Can Die Laughing
March 26, 2019
Way, way, back in the balmy days of 2009, I had a Cocktail Talk post from A.A. Fair, and went through how he was actually a nom de plume
(as they say) of Erle Stanley Gardner, at one time the biggest selling writer around thanks to his books about a certain lawyer named Perry Mason! You can see how I feel about all of that by reading past Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks
(short version: oddly enough, I tend to like the show better than the books, though they aren’t bad, and tend to have great covers, and I like the A.A. Fair books better for some reason). Here, though, is the neat thing about The Knife Slipped
. It was a lost manuscript, rejected at one time by Gardner’s publisher, and only recently re-found and published by the happening folks at Hard Case Crime. It’s a good read, too, staring Cool and Lam (Donald Cool and Bertha Lam), a detective team, and the book stands out as an early mystery for this detecting duo, giving more history around them, and just being a swell read on every side. Well worth picking up, whether you sit with me on the Gardner questions or not. And, there are slugs of Scotch.
“Dance,” I said.
Her voice was wistful. “Uh-huh. The floor is build out over the side hill, on an enclosed porch. You dance out from the tables onto this porch and look down over the city lights. They keep it almost dark out there, just a starlight effect.”
“It won’t be starlight tonight,” I said, “but a good shot of Scotch might help. How about it? Do you feel the same way about a slug of Scotch I do?
She hesitated a minute, and said, “I don’t know.”
–A.A. Fair/Erle Stanley Gardner, The Knife Slipped