Friday, May 23, 2014

Vintage Mystery #19

I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge 2014. The challenge is to read 6 or more Vintage Mysteries. All novels must have been originally written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

I read this for G-1: Locked Room Mystery. Okay, the crime occurs on a boat, good enough, I hope!

The Case of the Crooked Candle -  Erle Stanley Gardner

Very light on characterization and the wartime atmosphere of 1944 but heavy on the absorbing puzzle. Lawyer Perry Mason has to reconcile the position of the murder victim, the action of tides, the crook of a candle, and the stories of his clients. Intellectually engaging without being dismayingly complicated.

At roughly 25% of the book, Chapter 16, day one of the preliminary hearing, could very well be Gardner's longest courtroom chapter. In Chapter 18, Perry falls asleep with his head in his secretary Della Street's lap, which creates a relaxed moment of tenderness between familiar characters. In Chapter 19, Gardner somewhat humanizes homicide detective Lt. Tragg by having him offer an olive branch to Mason.

Written during WWII, Gardner hints about butter rationing, a period touch, along with jump seats in taxis, whatever those might have been. I'm not sure I'd suggest this one to a Mason newbie but aficionados will like it.

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