A. A. FAIR – The Bigger They Come. Donald Lam & Bertha Cool #1. William Morrow, hardcover, 1939. Pocket #228, paperback; 1st printing, September 1943.

   In this, the first book Erle Stanley Gardner wrote under this name, we learn the following: how Donald Lam happened to get hired by the Bertha Cool Detective Agency, that that may or may not be his real name, some details about Bertha’s life with the late Mr. Cool …

   And how to commit a murder and not be punished for it. If this is not a hard-boiled novel, it is the toughest next thing to it. You can also always count on legal shenanigans in a Gardner book — and more puzzle in the plot than in all of the mysteries written last year, combined.

–Reprinted from Mystery*File #19, January 1990, very slightly revised.