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review 2016-10-20 18:26
The Case of the Empty Tin
The Case of the Empty Tin - Erle Stanley Gardner

We all have an aunt like this (if not aunt, then some other close relative; you do not have to go as far as second cousins to find such person). The kind who loves make homemade preserves: pickles, jams, and such. The preserves are carefully stored on shelves in a basement, labeled and ordered.


Florence Gentrie was such person. Imagine her righteous indignation when she found an unlabeled closed empty tin can on her shelf. To a casual observer it would seem like much ado about nothing, but it looked like this can was somehow connected to a crime committed in a nearby house.


The crime was a strange one. People heard exactly one shot in the middle of the night and the car of the apartment tenant from where the shot came from was all in bloodstains in the morning. Both owner and his housekeeper disappeared. This meant it was not even clear who was the victim and who was the (possible) murderer. Where does Perry Mason come in? He was hired by a reclusive handicapped guy living above the apartment where the crime was committed. Mason’s task was to keep his client in the background as much as possible – from the police interrogations and the resulting publicity mostly. Obviously the best way to do it would be to solve the crime before the police starts meddling.

Police investigation


Perry Mason is very good at investigating, even if it means lying to the police hiding behind client-lawyer confidentiality, breaking into somebody’s home, finding a dead body or two, and generally put his life in danger. Do not feel bad for the guy as his fees clearly show all the excitement he had to go through.


The mystery was complicated enough to make me keep guessing about not only the identity of the villain, but also about what exactly was going on. I admit that the vital clues were given early, but it was practically impossible to recognize them as such behind all the red herrings thrown in. I also learned a simple but effective method of encrypting your messages which would put all the modern computer cryptography to shame.



I had one fairly big problem with the book using one of the worst trope of a mystery story. Not to spoil anything I will use a completely different situation from another book with the same trope. A guy was murdered. The investigation uncovered two facts from his history – among others. Some time ago the victim was driving a car being completely intoxicated, lost the control and ran over a wife and a kid of a guy named X, used a good lawyer and avoided the jail. Some other time the victim looked at another guy called Y the wrong way. Now for the trope itself: the investigators completely forget about the existence of X and build their investigation around Y trying to find (non-existing) evidence against him. I consider this to be an insult to readers’ intelligence.


This book had one such trope. Fortunately it was not about the main clue, otherwise I would have lowered the rating a lot, my love for the series notwithstanding. This was one additional very obvious lead which Mason overlooked. I came to expect better from one of the most famous lawyers in literature.

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review 2016-10-14 20:44
The Case of the Silent Partner
Case of the Silent Partner - E. Gardner

All the previous books of the series followed roughly the same general plot. A client came to Perry Mason office with a non-trivial but also not critical problem. Mason began investigating (usually involving Paul Drake) until a dead body showed up with all evidence pointing to his client being the murderer. Mason continued the investigation while avoiding the obstacles created by his archenemy Sergeant Holcomb until the court hearing where he would finally show the truth with skillful cross-examination of witnesses.


This book signifies the departure from the formula above. For starters it contains not just Mason's POV which was the case before. Sergeant Holcomb is gone replaced by Lieutenant Tragg. This was quite surprising as Mason mentioned that he was partially responsible for Holcomb's departure - and I thought the two finally came to (reluctant) understanding in the previous book. Tragg is smarter than Holcomb and tries to cooperate with Mason most of the time. Paul Drake does not make his personal appearance, but he will be back in the next book.


Two sisters opened several flower shops.
Flower Shop
Later when they become successful one of sisters - Mildred Faulkner began to suspect a guy who was holding a virtual monopoly on the business was trying to take over by buying off their stock.


So her part of the stack was safe, but when she checked on her sister it turned out the sister let her husband manage it. The husband could not produce it immediately and Mildred realized she needs a good lawyer - say Perry Mason - to protect her interest. Before she came to him she did her own investigation which led her to an illegal casino and its poisoned employee.

Illegal Casino

By the time Mason got involved another employee was shot with clues pointed at Mildred. To his complete surprise Mildred did not want Mason to represent her.


It was fun to see Mason closely working with police represented by Tragg for a change. I did miss Paul Drake and his attitude on life, but I am happy to say he will be back in the next book - as I already mentioned. Due to the cooperation the case was solved before it got to the courtroom, but it was complicated enough to make up for the absence of Mason's interrogation of witnesses. Even despite the fact that I was able to figure out what exactly was going on, I still rate the book with 4 stars.

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review 2016-10-07 18:17
The Case of the Baited Hook
The Case of the Baited Hook - Erle S. Gardner

Mason received a phone call late at night; it was an unlisted phone known only to Della Street and Paul Drake. To make a long story short, he ended up receiving a man and a woman in the middle of the night in his office. While thanks to his foresight he managed to learn the identity of the man the woman was wearing a mask and was wrapped in a cloak making her a complete mystery. The lawyer was suckered lured into representing her in case she ever gets in trouble - while still being in the dark about who she is.

Next morning an aged woman came to him for a consultation. She gave him a long and romantic story involving a Russian noble couple fleeing the Revolution, Russian Revolution
a sinking ship (NOT named Titanic),

a house for orphaned children with some shady business practices,

and a trust fund with mismanagement problems.

Trust fund
One of the funds trustee happened to be the identified night visitor, so Mason expected the enigmatic woman to show up at any time. He was wrong as he remained in the complete darkness regarding to who his client is - makes it hard to defend the girl, does not it?

This is one of the very rare stories where Mason was able to untangle the mystery before it got to the courtroom. As a result the usual courtroom drama is not here, but the book more than made up for it. The identity of his client remained unclear for a really long time. Mason's switchboard girl Gertie got her screen time and at one point her interaction with Mason (she was under the police surveillance at the time) was hilarious. Mason put in place a high-society snobbish woman - while defending another woman, so please do not call him sexist. I also loved the way he handled uncooperative stock brokers.

So far I managed to say everything except for the mystery itself. It was good, quite on the level with the rest of the series. Given all of these the rating is my usual for the series: 4 stars.

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text 2016-10-06 14:13
Reading progress update: I've read 22%.
The Case of the Baited Hook - Erle S. Gardner

The beginning is so complicated I have no clue how to give a plot outline in my review - and keep it reasonably short.

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review 2016-10-04 18:49
The Case of Rolling Bones
The Case of the Rolling Bones - Erle Stanley Gardner

We all know the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

The Prodigal Son

Unlike his Biblical counterpart the guy in this tale named Alden Leeds struck gold – literally. So he became rich and came back to the loving embrace of his family. After all, who would not want to have a rich relative?

Rich Uncle

Especially a dying rich relative? Leeds however disappointed his heirs-to-be by not only staying alive and kicking, but also deciding to get married. Obviously for the relatives marriage meant kissing their dream of getting rich quick goodbye. Such people can become really dangerous really fast.


Luckily for Leeds he had a niece who had a rebel idea that the guy was entitled to spend his money the way he wanted, even by marrying a woman who looked like a typical gold-digger. She hired Perry Mason to protect the interests of her uncle. As everybody familiar with the series knows Mason is not shy about charging for his services – and delivering too, but that is another story. This time Mason really earned his money, the hard way.


First he had to extract Leeds from the mental asylum where his loving relatives put him. The moment the guy was free (he escaped before Mason overcame the legal obstacles) he became a prime murder suspect with police happily adjusting the evidence to secure the conviction.


Mason had to untangle a very complicated tale involving Gold Rush, loaded dice, a blackmail, a former bar dancing girl, a doctor with dubious reputation, and of cause deadly loving relatives. I always say the amount of red herrings in a Perry Mason mystery is very high. This time it was close to overload.

Red Herrings

It did not help any that Mason himself threw a couple of them just to keep the police busy and happy. The mystery can be solved before it is explained if you manage to see the truth behind all the red herrings, but I wish you good luck with this.


Two other things are of note. A private detective Paul Drake, another main character of the series who does the legwork for Mason finally was able to get to eat in style - the way high-class lawyers eat - a couple of times. He usually had to have a low-quality sandwich while Mason was eating in a good restaurant. I always felt pity for him because of this.


Mason usually tends to leave the prosecution look somewhat foolish in the courtroom thanks to his brilliant performances. This time he literally humiliated the guy who fully deserved it to be honest. The moral of the story: do not get Mason pissed-off. It is hard to do, but if you manage it – watch out.


To summarize: a good entertaining mystery which most probably will keep you guessing to the end. It is quite on the level with the rest of the books of the series.

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