The Mysterious Bookshop

Erle Stanley Gardner (A.A. Fair) - The Bigger They Come

A private detective searches for a missing person in this “breathlessly dramatic” (Los Angeles Times) whodunnit from the creator of Perry Mason.

Bertha Cool is the gruff, tough-talking, corpulent head of her private detective agency, opened after the death of her husband; Donald Lam is her meek, slight, and nervy new hire, who makes up for a lack of boldness with brilliant deductive work. The duo couldn’t be any more dissimilar but, with their skills combined, they are an unstoppable force when it comes to solving crimes, as evidenced by their over two dozen successes in the long-running series penned by Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner.

In this, their first outing, Donald Lam is tasked with delivering divorce papers to a man who reportedly made a fortune in rigged slot machines. The only problem is that nobody—not even the police—can find him. Before long, Lam’s seemingly-simple assignment finds him caught up in a web of money, mysterious safety deposit boxes, and a gang of toughs every bit as desperate as he is to find the runaway husband.

Reissued for the first time in decades, and originally published under the A.A. Fair pen name, The Bigger They Come is an enjoyable private eye novel replete with puzzling scenarios and a humorous tone. As fast and twisty as anything Gardner ever wrote, the novel (and the series it spawned) is more Paul Drake than Perry Mason, but it is sure to please any fan of the Golden Age whodunnit.

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