I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge 2015. The challenge is to read 6 or more Vintage Mysteries. All novels must have been originally written between 1960 and 1989 inclusive and be from the mystery category.
I read this for the category “I-2 a Number or quantity in the title”
Rationale: I argue that “fortune” is a quantity since it refers to “large amount of money or assets”
The Case of the Phantom Fortune – Erle Stanley Gardner, 1964
This Perry Mason novel should not be confused with Phantom Fortune, a novel by Mrs. Braddon, the author of the still worth reading Lady Audley’s Secret.
Long-time readers of this blog know that I’m unimpressed with Gardner’s output of the 1960s. He asks for leaps of faith and suspensions of belief that are beyond me. But notice that I still read them. While doing so, I look on the bright side.
The upside of this one is that Perry Mason re-assumes his hard-boiled manner of the novels from the late 1930s and early 1940s. He tells a blackmailer of the three ways to deal with a blackmailer: pay up, go to the cops, or kill the blackmailer. He lets the blackmailer conclude that Perry will indeed snuff him if he persists in his demands.
Another upside is that the blackmailer ruthlessly exploits a guileless youth. He also has a George Sanders-type charm that is smooth and reptilian. He’s a scary creation, more memorable than Gardner’s usual greedy businessman or desperate lover.
The main appeal of this one is its twists and turns. So I don’t want to give away incidents in a review. I think any Mason fan will like this one.