Growing up, I only knew the TV movies from the mid 1980s to 90s and the original TV show from 1957 to 66, both starring two of my all-time favorites, Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. But recently, I finally got around to reading Erle Stanley Gardner’s original novels. Not all of them of course. Not yet. After all, Gardner wrote more than eighty stories about Perry Mason and his darling secretary Della Street. But I plan to read them all, sooner rather than later, because they are a real treat for anyone who enjoys a decent whodunit with a good portion of adventure and shyster attitude.
So far, I’ve made it through Perry Mason and the Case of…
- The Foot-Loose Doll
- The Glamorous Ghost
- The Grinning Gorilla
- The Long-Legged Models
- The Lucky Loser
- The Screaming Woman
- The Terrified Typist
- The Waylaid Wolf
I wholeheartedly recommend them all, from the first few chapters of discovering Perry’s new case to the final twists and turns in the courtroom where our attorney-at-law reveals the delinquent and remains undefeated. A reliable formula, highly entertaining and spiced up with great characterizations of Mason himself, his pretty as well as capable girl Friday Della and their P.I. friend Paul Drake.
If you are familiar with the iconic TV show, the books will please and surprise you. They are different in some respect, but the characters are every bit as genuine, entertaining and tangible as Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale and Bill Hopper depicted them. For those of you who share my fondness for romance, the books contain more than one hint towards a tingling attraction between Della and her boss. And the storylines always embrace an almost uplifting quality despite the imperative ingredient of murder and mayhem.
Having finished the first couple of novels, I now can’t wait to read on. The mix of suspense, mystery and humor is utterly addictive and a good eighty years after first appearing on the market, Perry Mason is still a gem.