This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Top of the Heap by Erle Stanley Gardner

Top of the Heap (1952)

by Erle Stanley Gardner, A. A. Fair

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
301537,236 (3.6)14



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 14 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
"Top of the Heap" by Erle Stanley Gardner is one of those "Hard Case Crime Series" books, where they reprint a lot of crime noir stuff that's older and out of print, like this one. I love Gardner's "Perry Mason" series and this one was pretty good. It was convoluted and complicated, like all good detective fiction usually is. I really liked the character of Donald Lam. He was interesting, and a man's man without being obnoxious about it. ( )
  bekkil1977 | Feb 10, 2018 |
Donald Lam...the real working half of Cool & Lam Detective Agency.

When Bertha Cool takes on a well heeled client in need of establishing an alibi, she sees dollar signs. For Donald Lam it is just another job, until he finds out the the client's story doesn't make sense. The beautiful girlfriend of a notorious gangster vanishes, a mining scam, an illegal casino, a double homicide...how do these all tie together and relate to the client?

Starting in L.A. and winding up in San Franciso, Lam is on the move as he finds one thing leads to another. There are a lot of twists and turns in this and you need to pay attention.

Erle Stanley Gardner writes under the pen name A.A. Fair for this 29 book series written between 1939 to 1970. Bertha Cool runs the agency with an iron fist...money is the one thing that can soften her up. Donald Lam is the guy who really gets things done, in the style of noir of the 1930s. All the books have this feel and seem to take place in this time.

For me, it was a Goodread. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Jun 23, 2016 |
Det. Donald Lam is hired to locate two women who could verify the whereabouts of a man thought to be involved in the disappearance of well known, San Francisco socialite. Unsatisfied with the outcome coupled with a feeling that his client’s story stinks, Lam lets his instincts take him further down the rabbit hole. Was Lam right to pursue his gut or will he lose everything in the process?

Hardcase had a lot to live up to in providing the reader with an adequate follow up to both [b:Grifter's Game|380569|Grifter's Game|Lawrence Block|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1183504844s/380569.jpg|3261476] and [b:Fade To Blonde|137556|Fade To Blonde (Hard Case Crime #2)|Max Phillips|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1183504914s/137556.jpg|132580] - but I’m not sure this was the best choice. There were aspects about this that I really liked, most notably Donald Lam himself. His dialogue was snappy and at times, pretty funny. What can I say, I love my detectives to show some backbone as well as having razor sharp wit.

Lam is a smart guy, his decisions and assumptions seem to come out on the right side of things more often than not. He must have one hell of a poker face because he’s an expert in the field of bluffing. He could probably tell you that the sky is green and you’d second guess yourself.

Some of the supporting cast were a little strange - especially Lam’s partner, Brenda. While I understood why she had been upset following a specific event, you’d think that with this being the 22nd installment of the series, she’d be a little more confident with Lam’s skills as a detective.

While I liked it, it didn’t leave me with the same lasting impression that either of the first two books did. However, I think I may be completely hooked on this publisher. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
How Cool & Lam is this? Another beautiful Hard Case reprint, this is classic Erle Stanley Gardner, from his A. A. Fair persona. Check out how hard it is to make it -- and stay -- at the Top of the Heap. ( )
  kurvanas | Mar 10, 2010 |
A VERY good old school detective novel, nothing like the somber court mysteries of Perry Mason (another Gardner creation).
  MarquesadeFlambe | Jan 18, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gardner, Erle Stanleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fair, A. A.main authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

When the beautiful girlfriend of a notorious gangster vanishes, the last man to be seen with her needs an alibi and fast. Enter Donald Lam of the Cool & Lam detective agency who tracks down the two women with whom his client claims to have spent the night, and the client declares the case closed. But it's not. Something about his client's story doesn't add up, and before Donald knows it, he's dug up connections to a mining scam, an illegal casino, and a double homicide--plus an opportunity for an enterprising private eye to make a small fortune, if he can just stay alive long enough to cash in on it!… (more)

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.6)
1.5 2
2.5 1
3 18
3.5 3
4 17
5 7

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 126,405,691 books! | Top bar: Always visible