Sunday, February 11, 2018

Traps Need Fresh Bait by A.A. Fair

This story was a fun weekend read.  I read it to Josh as we were driving to and from Dallas last Saturday.  Not everyone can read in a car but fortunately I have always been able to, and considering how long I have to drive to see family members that's a good thing.  Unless there's no other driver.  I haven't yet figured out how to train Hercule to read to me.

On the radio was this beautiful piece by Julius Isserlis for piano and cello called Memories of Childhood.  Is it not lovely and at times fun?


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A.A. Fair is a pseudonym for Eric Stanley Gardner who wrote the Perry Mason novels. Perhaps he did not want people to have preconceived ideas about his Cool and Lam detective stories so he wrote under another name. At any rate, I find myself liking Donald Lam almost better than Perry Mason.

For those not familiar with the Lam/Cool detective series, Bertha Lam is a heavy set loud mouthed middle aged woman who was running a collective agency until she came across Donald Lam, an out of work lawyer who agrees to work as a private detective for her. Together they solve crimes. Or rather Lam solves the crime and Cool gets the clients and makes sure they get paid.

What I like about Fair's stories is that he writes from first person narrative, always in Donald Lam's point of view. This allows the reader to form a type of intimacy to the detective as we are accompanying him wherever he goes hearing all his thoughts as he thinks them.

Also the story line is good, hooking the reader with a clear mystery and keeping us following along to the end.

In Traps Need Fresh Bait, a man who says he is from an insurance agency stationed in New Mexico needs someone to investigate a peculiar ad in the newspaper. The ad is offering three hundred dollars to anyone who was witness to a car accident between a Cadillac and a Ford galaxy at an intersection.

The ad is carefully worded. It wants someone who will testify that they saw the Galaxy hit the Cadillac not the other way around. Donald Lam poses as a witness to see what the reason for wanting a specific type of witness is. Unfortunately, he is turned down by the lawyer who sees him.

While Lam is trying to plan his next move, he sees a woman enter in the office with the lawyer. When she comes out he charms her and takes her out to lunch. He finds that she was a witness and is glad to have the three hundred dollars because she is down on her luck and desperate for the money.

But was she a witness? After checking police records, Lam discovers that the car wreck had been settled between the insurance companies a long time ago. So why is anyone offering money for something that doesn't need witnesses? Why does the insurance agent want something investigated that is about a wreck he should already know has been settled? And where does this woman fit in to all this?

Lam spends the next couple hundred pages uncovering clues to find out what is really happening and what is this car wreck/insurance claim acting as a cover for.

A good, well-developed story with plausible, yet unpredictable outcomes. A fun, weekend read.

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Mudpuddle said...

i've read quite a few Cool/Lam books and i really like them... including this one. some are better than others, but as you say, Donald Lam's pov builds up a layer of familiarity that makes them all worth reading... they're hard to find any more, tho... i keep hoping some publisher will reissue them all, as they're certainly a lot better than most modern mysteries... I bet Herc can already read, he just doesn't want to, so long as he can get you to do it! haha..

Brian Joseph said...

This does sound fun. I have been meaning to delve into stories or books that fit into the mystery genres for awhile.

I listened to the piece that you linked to. I do not think that I ever heard it before. I liked it. Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Wilfong said...

HI Mudpuddle! I was lucky to find a whole set of double novels-each book had a Cool/Lam and a Perry Mason mystery. I had bought the books for the Mason stories but the Cool/Lam stories were a pleasant surprise. I found the set on eBay. Someone had an estate sale and was cleaning out.

There's some antique stores in surrounding towns here. This area is known for them. I've found a few gems but you have to take the time to search the shelves.

As for Herc, I wouldn't be surprised if he could read. He certainly laughs at all the right places.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Brian. I read my "serious" novels during the week and take a break on the weekends with something a little lighter. It works for me.

I'm glad you liked the music. Have a good week.

R.T. said...

Sharon, this sounds like fun. I'll check my library. There is no chance that I could read while riding in a car; no amount of Dramamine would prevent the inevitable disaster.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi R.T. I guess I am fortunate that I can read and ride. I can also read while on exercise machines, otherwise I'd be bored stiff.

Now, roller coasters are another story and I don't mean reading on one.