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
December 17, 2013
My wishy-washy-ness with Erle Stanley Gardner, and his version of Perry Mason, as well as my love of Perry Mason-as-played-by-Raymond-Burr, have been detailed on this blog in the past. So, I won’t weigh into them here (no need for me to get haunted anyway). But I still can’t stay away from his books when I find them in their pocket-sized printings, cause the covers tend to be so darn swell. And the insides certainly aren’t bad, and usually contain nuggets of joy like the below.
He went to the room, pulled the curtains, ordered four bottles of ginger ale, with plenty of ice, and got a quart of whiskey from the bell boy. Then he sat in the overstuffed chair, with his feet on the bed, and smoked.
— The Case of the Velvet Claws, Erle Stanley Gardner
November 20, 2012
As I mentioned in some past posts, I’m not a giant fan of the Perry Mason books written by Erle Stanley Gardner. I don’t loath them or anything, and I have a decent number (well, the covers are so darn fine, and the books aren’t so darn bad). However, I do positively dig the Perry Mason television show starring the commanding-yet-convivial Raymond Burr. I may have mentioned this in one of those past posts, actually. Shot in beauteous black and white, the Pery Mason series in my mind is one of the highpoints of the whole teevee medium, thanks in large part to Mr. Burr but also thanks in part to the regular supporting cast: the long-suffering DA Hamilton Berger, the jolly Sergant Trask, the suave detective Paul Drake, and the lovely, supportive, and cuddly Della Street as Perry’s confidential secretary (played by William Talman, Ray Collins, William Hopper, and Barbara Hale respectively). All gems. Anywho, this is a bit of pre-amble to the following quote, which is a highlight from an episode called The Case of the Fancy Figures, which is about a cad who gets murdered. It’s truly one of my fav quotes about bars ever, and I like it even better since it comes from one of my favorites shows:
If you have to wait, there’s nothing like a bar. After a few drinks, it becomes a fairyland. People are so kind and considerate.
— The Case of the Fancy Figures
January 11, 2012
As I mentioned once in a Cocktail Talk post over two years ago (amazing that I’ve been writing this blog for so long, now that I mention it), I’m not a huge Perry Mason book fan, meaning those (and there were tons) written by Erle Stanley Gardner. I am a gigantic Perry Mason television show fan, however. Which points I suppose to how wacky I am, or some such. But the books just seem a tad too smart about themselves, while the show seems just the right pitch of genius and atmosphere. However, I do still pick up the occasional Perry Mason book, mostly because many of the original pocket book covers are joys to behold. Take the one pictured here–lovely lady, in negligee, with smoking pistol, on a boat. Gawd, that’s wonderful. And this book I liked more than others, too, as it seemed a little less in hand at times to me, and had the full contingent of Perry Mason favorites: dashing detective Paul Drake, saucy and swell secretary Della Street, and cuddly losers (at least when facing Perry) Lieutenant Tragg and DA Hamilton Burger. And, the following little gem of an exchange:
Drake said, “Here’s a car with three of my operatives now. What do we do first?”
“Put them out the way I said, so they can watch the apartment, the garage, and the windows.”
“Okay, then what?”
“Then,” Della Street interposed with firm determination,“we get a cup of hot coffee and it there’s any brandy in the car, we spike it with brandy. My chattering teeth are chipping off.”
“That,” Mason agreed, “is an idea.”
–Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife
September 25, 2009
A quick break from the Chow tips (check ‘em out below, if’n you haven’t seen them), but only enough so I can slip in a quick quote from a book by A.A. Fair, called Some Women Won’t Wait (amen), with only a quick introductory graph, which I am writing quickly (but lovingly), so I can skedaddle out to the Friends of the Seattle Library Booksale (the most wondrous of events). So, quick (he says): A.A. Fair is, actually, Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote 3 billion Perry Mason mysteries, and who I don’t tend to like (though, oddly, quickly, I love the Perry Mason TV series), but this book I found fun, probably because there’s lots of drinking, and a mysterious woman with eyes the size of orange slices drinking on the cover. I’m not saying I get easily swayed, but . . .. Anyway, check this out, go buy some books, and then make a big boozy punch and slide into the weekend.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel was saturated with an atmosphere of deep, quiet luxury. The royal palms furnished dappled shade; the air was a combination of ocean tang and the scent of flowers.
I wandered through the lobby and a couple of shops before I found Bertha Cool seated at a table out on a lanai overlooking the ocean.
There was a planter’s punch in front of her, and Bertha was just a little flushed, her eyes just a little watery, her lips pressed in a tight line.
I took a good look and decided that Bertha was just a little bit high and very, very mad.
— Some Women Won’t Wait, A.A. Fair