Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Month of Perry Mason

I've been very busy with three jobs (plus running an eighteen-month long role playing game and the occasional freelance writing gig) that my blog posts have been few and far between. I've still been reading, of course, but I'm not having much luck with the part where I sit down to write a review. Currently, I'm in the middle of Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child, Elizabeth LaBan's The Tragedy Paper, and Joni Cham's In My Mother's House, but since I read on the go (i.e. on the bus or while waiting for a meeting), I usually take a shorter pocketbook with me.

That means I've been reading a lot of Perry Mason books the entire month of April, in no particular order. I just grab whatever's on top of the pile and move the one I've just read to the bottom. Here's a rundown of some I've finished lately:

The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink - one of my favorite Perry Mason mysteries so far. It starts out innocently enough, with a botched hit-and-run. But soon Mason finds himself in the middle of a cop killing. It transported me to the era when these books were actually written. There was a certain gravity to this book that stood out from the others. Not only that, the case felt bigger than Mason and for once made me think he might not have all the faculties to solve it.

The Case of the Curious Bride - A newlywed gets herself in a sticky situation when her first husband shows up and subsequently gets killed. Add to the mess a spineless husband and a controlling father-in-law and Mason has a mystery that got complicated too fast too soon. An enjoyable mystery that ended with an exciting courtroom scene.

The Case of the Borrowed Brunette - I would have liked this a lot better if I hadn't disliked one of the characters Perry was helping. I'm used to characters lying, cheating, stealing, betraying. But in this book, I felt that her dishonesty was so unnecessary that it made me frustrated. Still, I thought the book's premise (an actress is selected to live in an apartment and give the impression that she's someone else) was a pretty good hook.

The Case of the Stuttering Bishop - I didn't care for this one a lot. Maybe the whole stuttering assumption/logic was just lost on me so I wasn't too invested in the idea from the very beginning. I wasn't attached to any of the characters and I was in a hurry to finish the book.

The Case of the Counterfeit Eye - another favorite. It's classic Perry Mason, with all its red herring evidence and interesting characters. The mystery is peppered with fake eyes, planted evidence, old flames, murders, secrets and lies -- basically the things that complicate a Mason mystery and deliver a thrilling read.

The Case of the Gilded Lily - Mason's client hopes to protect his wife and beat a blackmailer but things go from bad to worse for him when the blackmailer ends up dead. Mason steps in to help and uncovers the real culprit but it felt that it came from left-field. Della Street does a good job of voicing out my concerns this time: it really felt that Mason's methods bordered on illegal. But (again) I'm no lawyer, so I wouldn't know what was legal and what wasn't.

I have about eighteen books left and I'm not even remotely tired from all the Erle Stanley Gardner I've been reading. But ask me again a month from now. I wonder what I'll have to say then!

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