29. The Case of the Glamorous Ghost

“It was Della Street, Perry Mason’s confidential secretary, who first called the lawyer’s attention to the glamorous ghost.”

The Case of the Glamorous Ghost, Erle Stanley Gardner

Ok, we have gots to talk about Perry Mason.  This is the second Mason I’ve read, and let me tell you guys, Perry Mason is the best.  If you want a fast talking, slick gumshoe case you absolutely cannot do better than Perry Mason.  Gardner wrote about one hundred thousand Mason books (which were turned into an iconic TV series starring Raymond Burr), and if they are all like these two bring them on.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely disposable pulp, but what fun it is.  Mason is a famous defense attorney who always gets his (wrongly accused) clients off.  The facts in this one are pretty complicated - a beautiful young woman is wandering around at night barely clothed, and later on is fingered for the murder of her new husband.  She’s a fast talking dame, and he mighta had a piece on the side, and the prosecutor wants blood, and, oh, let me just give you a taste of it -

“Quit stalling,” Perry Mason said

“The district attorney has a perfect case of first-degree murder against you. If you don’t go on the stand you’re licked.  If you testify to this amnesia business they’ll rip you wide open.”

“You don’t think I’m telling the truth, do you, Mr. Mason?”

“It’s your funeral,”  Mason said, “and I mean that literally.  They’ll strap you inteo the little steel chair. The door will clang shut and you’ll hear that clank of an iron gate as the cyanide pellets are dropped into the acid.  Then you’ll hear a little hissing and…”

I mean - come on.  If you aren’t in for that kind of prose I don’t want to know you.

The plot itself is a bit silly, but the characters snap, as does the dialogue. AND, I have to say, the law is pretty good.  There is courtroom stuff about hearsay in here that could stand on an evidence exam, at least as it is understood by this Harvard educated lawyer (who, it must be admitted, took evidence from a goddamned lunatic, but did teach it to herself for the bar).  I bought this particular Mason at a used booksale (original cover price, $0.75), and I will definitely grab some more.  Just punchy fun. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017