Traps Need Fresh Bait


Fair, A. A.TRAPS NEED FRESH BAIT.(1967).***.Everyone knows that Fair was a pseudonym used by Erle Stanley Gardner.Gardner didn’t seem to shy from everyone knowing, either, since the jacket proclaims:“Erle Stanley Gardner writing as...”The books written under this name were not courtroom dramas, unlike the Perry Mason series for which the author was famous.This one features the detective agency of Donald Lam and Bertha Cool – Lam and Cool.I liked the fact that the sign on Bertha’s office door read, “B. Cool.”The story starts out with a client coming to them to investigate the background of an ad that solicited witnesses to an auto accident.On the face of it, it looked like the accident participants – or one of them, anyway – were looking for favorable witnesses to bolster their side of the story.Turns out that the ad was looking for malleable people who would be willing to commit perjury in return for the reward offered of $300.The need for such a patsy ultimately comes out, and is related to a major scam perpetrated against the city government in contracting bids.There’s big money involved and stakes are high.When the murder of a high-profile attorney occurs, as it must in a Fair novel, Lam goes into action and separates the good guys from the bad.This is a kind of toss-off plot and set of character portrayals that make you feel that Fair wrote this one in about two weeks.It’s strictly light reading.I am continually impressed, however, by Gardner’s writing output.By a rough count, he wrote over 124 detective or courtroom novels, plus about nine non-fiction books, all dealing with Baja California.Anyway, this one was a beach book, or one for the waiting lounge at an airport.

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