Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mount TBR #34

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

The Case of Fan-dancer's Horse - Erle Stanley Gardner

This 1947 outing was the 29th of the Perry Mason courtroom mysteries. Perry and his confidential secretary Della Street find a fan-dancer’s outfit in a jalopy that was involved in an accident that they witnessed.

Perry places an ambiguously-worded ad in the paper to find the owner and return the pair of ostrich plume fans and white slippers.  This ad attracts the attention of a fan-dancer, whose hubba-hubba stage name is Cheri Chi-Chi. But other claimants think that the wording of the ad refers to a missing and wounded saddle horse.

 A rancher is found with a Japanese sword - jeez, what people get up to with war souvenirs  - with a burr from the ostrich feather in the gushing wound. Stuck with yet another lying and chiseling client, Perry is more than put out when his shapely client steals his car to flee the cops and later is spied burying a bloody ostrich fan.

One downside is that the reader will be driven to her Smart Phone in order to look up antique terms such as "fan dancer" and "nautch dancer." The upside is that she will then know the fine gradations of styles of dance in burlesque and never again confuse nautch dancing with the cooch, much less the balloon bubble dance. So much to know in this world!

Another downside is that it is fairly easy to narrow the murderer down to three characters, which is unusual for a guy like me who never beats Perry to a solution. This is balanced, to my mind, to two upsides. One is that Gardner reminds us again to beware of police funny business when they cut corners to nail who they assume is the perp; at least, DA Hamilton Burger gets mad at Sergeant Holcomb’s malfeasances. The other is that Gardner once again demonstrates his respect and sympathy for and Mexicans in this novel.

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