The Count of 9–Cool and Lam are back in the latest return of classic noir

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s the first time in print since 1968.  Erle Stanley Gardner‘s The Count of 9, sixty years after its first printing, the 18th novel featuring the crime detective agency Cool & Lam is back thanks to the Hard Case Crime imprint.  Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason, penned a classic crime mystery of stolen rare artifacts and murder.  Featuring protagonist Donald Lam, the low key sleuth who ends up a punching bag by the bad guys as often as not, is joined by the trademark brief encounters of the brash, hard-boiled Bertha Cool, simply the best female detective in all of noir crime novels.

Cool tries to promote the agency, trying to get its name out there to establish a reputation for serving a higher brand of clientele.  She personally takes on the security for a wealthy world traveler, when her idea goes bust.  So why not bring in Lam and hand off the clean-up to him?  This time Lam is left to dodge two sultry art world dilettantes, both accused of the thefts, but only one will be his client.  When one of their husband’s is murdered, Lam must double back and solve both cases.  But first he must also dodge some hired thugs and worse, the local cops.


Will Donald Lam ever get a break?  Favorite noir secretary Elsie Brand is also back, but this time the office picks up a new file clerk, who can’t stop attracting the roaming eyes of the men who stop by the agency.  More Cool losing her Cool, more bruises for Lam.

Read an excerpt of The Count of 9 here.

Will the agency ever learn to get its fees upfront?  Will their good intentions ever pay off?


Will Lam ever arrive at work on time?

Any fan of noir crime novels will love this latest reprint pulled into from the past for this new edition for a new generation of readers.


Originally published under Gardner’s pseudonym A.A. Fair, The Count of 9 joins previous modern releases, The Knife Slipped, Top of the Heap, and Turn on the Heat (reviewed here).  Pick up these and The Count of 9 here at Amazon.

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