The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner

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The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Megan Kenny
Reviewed by Megan Kenny
Summary: The lost detective novel of Erle Stanley Gardner is a tour de force; a fast paced, fun frolic through the seedy underbelly of murder, mayhem and movie star glamour. The key players are witty, gritty and breathtakingly written and you find yourself racing to finish the last page, to understand the tangled web of deceit and betrayal. Hardboiled noir doesn't come better than this.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: December 2016
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
ISBN: 9781783299270

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Before we begin, I must confess. Confess that I am a hardboiled noir addict. Therefore, I approach each grisly tale of murder, private detectives and femme fatales with a sense of wonder but also scepticism. Surely, I think this one can't be as good as the last, it must have flaws, poor characters and lack the necessary grit to be a true hardboiled noir masterpiece? so you can imagine my trepidation when opening the Knife Slipped. I was wrong, wonderfully wrong. This book for me is the essence of the hardboiled noir genre and E.S. Gardner is a marvel.

One of E.S. Gardner's many talents is his ability to construct superb, flawed and deeply human characters. This is particularly true in The Knife Slipped which sees the return of the diminutive but feisty and courageous Donald Lam and the tough talking, foul mouthed Bertha Cool. An independent businesswoman who is in no mood for your tears or timewasting, she has a love for loose clothing, loose talk and loose people and doesn't care what you think about it. It is perhaps this somewhat challenging stance which led to The Knife Slipped being rejected in 1939 but this setback has only served to enhance the engaging, mesmerising world of Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Rather than seeming dated or old fashioned, the Knife Slipped reads as a glorious technicolour journey back in time to the halcyon days of shady deals, private eyes and snappy dialogue. Yes, I loved it.

I won't give too much away, although there are more than enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most demanding reader. The Knife Slipped is fast paced and Gardner wields his words with brisk, brutal efficiency which, coupled with the gripping plot, makes this a short read and I was racing to reach the finale. It does not disappoint. The plot, which features murder, mystery, crooked cops and a damsel in distress, sees our hero pit his wits against the local police department in a deadly race to find out who killed his mark and how a devastatingly beautiful dame may be mixed up in a scheme of corruption and fraud. What's also interesting is the afterword provided by Russell Atwood which gives a sense of context to the inner workings of the Cool & Lam series. It is clear to see that this second book was intended to show the progression of a green detective and his worldly associate and to demonstrate the inherently human face of this dynamic duo. I look forward to reading the remaining books in the series but this instalment can be enjoyed also be enjoyed by those who may be new to the series and even to the work of E.S. Gardner. The Knife Slipped is tense, violent and deliciously dark, with enough intrigue and mystery to keep you up all night.

For those interested in reading more noir fiction, you could try The Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett an author who, it's fair to say, inspired many involved in the genre including Raymond Chandler. For those interested in learning more about the style of hardboiled noir, you could try The Art of Noir by Eddie Muller which takes the reader on a journey through the art of cinematic noir.

Buy The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner at

Buy The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner at


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