Sunday, June 28, 2015

Murder, a counterfeit eye & courtroom drama in Book #2

Detective novels, good ones, don't just have twists and turns or gruesome, bloody murders on every second page. The backbone of a good detective novel is the protagonist, the hero who is, of course, the detective himself. Christie gave us Hercule Poirot, Chandler created Philip Marlowe, and Doyle gave us the greatest (probably) of all detectives in the form of Sherlock Holmes.

And Erle Stanley Gardner created the legal eagle, Perry Mason.

The first thing different about this murder mystery is that Perry Mason is a lawyer and not a detective. The plot is simple: there is a murder, a number of people are at the scene of the crime which looks like a suicide but isn't, family members come under suspicion, back stories are dug up, another murder happens which the reader didn't see coming, a big court scene, and finally the capture of the fleeing murderer. 

The title of the book is The Case of the Counterfeit eye and the eye (or eyes) pop up whenever murder happens in the book. And it is this title which made for this amazing cover which made it an irresistible buy. Erle Stanley Gardner was also a criminal lawyer. He wrote 82 Perry Mason novels and this one was number six and was published in 1935 (the last one was published in 1973). The Penguin edition that I have is called a Penguin Perry Mason.  All his novels started with 'The Case of......' and have such interesting titles as, The Case of the Singing Skirt,  The Case of the Glamarous Ghost, and The Case of the Negligent Nymph (for a complete list read here). 

This book was a 'just read-don't think' kind. Unlike Marlowe or Holmes, I didn't really warm up to Perry Mason. His character seemed too sure of himself and kind of one dimensional. By the end I was kind of put off by his arrogance. I'd like to see how the character was played out on the television drama Perry Mason. Sometimes an actor can add greater depth to a certain character in a novel (like Anthony Andrews did for the character of Sebastian Flyte in the Brideshead Revisited television series). 

The ending of the novel was in true Urdu digest style with Perry Mason providing us with a little teaser of his next case complete with a title! 

Image: Google