Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mount TBR #4

I read this book for the Mount TBR reading challenge 2014.

The Case of the Green-eyed Sister – Erle Stanley Gardner

What has poor old Ned Bain done to deserve such a troubled old age? He’s got the guilts on account of over-dutiful daughter Hattie who’s sacrificed her chance at a loving husband and family so she could nurse him and his dodgy heart. Instead of getting an honest job like any man should, his son Jarret has married rich and spends his wife’s money looking at ruins – i.e. fallen down buildings --  in the Yucatan. His daughter Sylvia is a loose-cannon manipulator and divorcee to boot. Snooty and cold Sylvia makes a poor impression on intuitive Della Street who says of Sylvia, "She'd cut your heart out for thirty-seven cents."

As if his children were not worry enough, a rum friend, J.J. Fritch from the past is trying to blackmail him. J.J. is threatening to tell the bank that Ned’s fortune is based on money stolen in a heist, which would wipe out the Bain family. J.J. is using crooked PI Brogan to plague him. Daughter Sylvia goes to Perry Mason

The action careens around tight corners with the upshot being Perry Mason finds himself having to defend daughter Hattie on a murder charge. Who would have thought such a mousey woman would take a bad guy out with an icepick?

Gardner has fun – and certain readers will too – as Mason dissects improper police procedure such as witness priming and sloppy police procedure such as not bothering to look for evidence. This happens so often in Perry Mason novels that they could be considered anti-police procedurals. The trial scene in Chapter Fourteen, about 50 pages, is one of the longest in all the Gardner novels.

The reveal is quite clever and counts as one of the more famous endings among Mason fans. Mystery fans who like retro 1950s fashion and word play (“lead pipe cinch”) will enjoy this readable book.

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