The Case Of The Smoking Chimney-Erle Stanley Gardner (1943) (A Gramps Wiggins Novel)

erle stanley gardner-the case of the smoking chimney

Gramps first showed up in 1941’s “The Case Of The Turning Tide.” This is the second and last time Gardner used the character. Gramps travels the country in his old,beat up car with a home made trailer attached. Last time he dropped in unannounced on his granddaughter Milred Duryea he got involved in one of her husband Frank’s cases. He’s the D.A of.Santa Delbarra County,California. Gramps is addicted to mystery novels and True Detective magazines and fancies himself an amateur sleuth. He can be a pain but his conclusions usually turn out right.

Businessman Ralph Pressman has his eye on oil leases in a small county. They’ve been ignored for a long time and he wants to grab them all for himself even if it means tricking the local ranchers. He puts a well on one ranchers property and waits to see what happens. He disguises himself and stays in a cabin to keep an eye on things. The local paper is about to print an editorial against him and the ranchers are ready to take him out. One night a rancher and the paper’s publisher drop by the cabin to confirm his identity. What they find is a dead body. The rancher says he hears someone inside but no one is there except the dead man. He’s been shot in the head.

Frank investigates and has a lot of suspects to choose from. There’s Pressman’s young and unfaithful wife Sophie. Pressman had private detectives following her. They got the goods and mailed a report to his business. His faithful secretary Jane tried to keep it from Sophie. The office staff nicknamed Sophie Bad News. Sophie comes to the office and says she wants all the mail. Jane had the report hidden in her desk. Sophie sends her on a make work errand, searches the desk and grabs the report.

Harvey Stanford is Pressman’s accountant. He’s stolen over seventeen grand and tried to get it back gambling. No luck.  Eve Raymond watches him lose. Both of them are suspects. Also on the list is Pellman Baxter. He’s a local rancher and a Pressman family friend. He’s real friendly with Sophie and the report has the pictures to prove it.

While Frank and the local sheriff investigate Gramps conducts his own investigation in spite of Frank telling him he’ll end up in jail if he doesn’t stay out of the way. Of course he doesn’t listen.

The book isn’t too bad but two about Gramps is enough. His character wears after a while. His eccentricities are supposed to have their charm but end up making you wish he would go away. The mystery aspect is good and that makes it readable.




About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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