FORGOTTEN BOOKS ~ DEAD MEN’S LETTERS BY ERLE STANLEY GARDNER!
I’ve always enjoyed Erle Stanley Gardner’s pulp short stories. Perry Mason never cut it with me, but Donald Lam and Bertha Cool (written as A.A. Fair) were tops with me when it came to Gardner’s novel length works.
Dead Men’s Letters was the first collection of Gardner’s Ed Jenkins stories and I enjoyed them from first to last.
WARNING: While the stories are great, the jacket copy has some howlers...
Erle Stanley Gardner – creator of Perry Mason – was the bestselling author of detective fiction of all time [I think Dame Agatha’s estate might argue this point]. Many of his best early short novels originally appeared in the famous Black Mask magazine alongside Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.
Gardner’s most enduring hero was Ed Jenkins [wait, what about Perry Mason?], also known as the Phantom Crook. So enduring was he that when the author considered discontinuing the exploits of this intrepid man, his fans overwhelmingly succeeded in ensuring his longevity [I think the cover copy writer was mistaking Gardner and his character Ed Jenkins for Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes].
Working beyond the law, pursued by police and criminals, Jenkins’ undesired notoriety made him a prize target for blackmail, coercion and imprisonment. But those who tried to force his hand never knew the man he could be when his back was to the wall, fighting.
This first ever collection of Ed Jenkins short novels [is a short novel the same as a short story?] represents the most thrilling adventures of Erle Stanley Gardner’s contribution to the hard-boilded detective genre [riiiiiight].
Happy birthday, David McCallum
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