Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bachelors Get Lonely

During the early 1960s, Gardner began to subtly change the Cool / Lam series. The duo took on cases that Bertha Cool felt would bring them respectability. Gardner had done this years before with Mason, when he tried to break into the slick magazines. Additionally, like the Perry Mason books before them, the Cool / Lam books began to lose something in terms of the plotting. Gardner was in his 70s by this point with pressures from the television show and writing multiple books per year. The plots became more predictable, frequently involved automobile accidents, often recycled and thin compared to the more robust multiple story line plots of the 1940s.

Bachelors Get Lonely embodies most of the later books' flaws. Montrose Carson is an example of the “big, substantial, solid businessmen” that Bertha has her eye on. Carson’s office experiences a series of losses in its business ventures. Lam lays a trap, pretending to be a wealthy businessman with a property to lease. Carson gives each member of his staff a unique dollar amount that the lease should go for. Lam easily determines the office leak when the price is just over one of the staff’s given amount. The path leads to Herbert Dowling, one of Carson’s competitors and to a series of women who work for and love the two men. After Dowling is murdered, the police implicate Lam because of the tracking device he’d installed on Dowling’s car.

Gardner uses the chance to discuss restless men in this book, appropriate to the title.
“It’s hard to describe a man like that, Donald. He’s emotionally restless. He’s—Well, I’ve always felt that we had a perfect companionship and that much of his present trouble is that he had been search for something to take the place of that companionship.”[i]

[i] Gardner, Erle Stanley (as A.A. Fair). Bachelors Get Lonely. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1961. Page 70. 

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