Friday, February 27, 2009

I ain't sayin' she's a goldigger...*

Title: Perry Mason Solves the Case of the Golddigger's Purse
Author: Erle Stanley Gardner
Bookmark: scrap of paper with information for a flight I never got to take

This was another installment in the series of Random Items Sent to Me, and despite the merciless mocking I received at the hands of Elizabeth because "Perry Mason is for old people," I was still excited to actually read one of his cases after growing up watching the show (and yes, Matlock, Magnum PI, Murder She Wrote, Father Dowling... I was raised on a steady stream of TV detectives.). Kind of makes me wish the two had something in common, actually.

Raymond Burr played the hell out of that role, but either the casting director took some liberties, or Burr played Mason much later in his career. Same with whoever played Della Street. I cracked up when a hotel manager hustled the two of them and their client out of his fine establishment because he believed the two women were hookers, and Mason was the client. This only made it weirder when Mason and his secretary were a little more intimate in the final scene of the book than they ever were in the show.

Right. The book.

The golddigger is after a businessman's money, but not in the usual way. She's aiming more for a payoff so her boyfriend can get treated for tuberculosis, and is willing to sell bf's special remedy for healing tail rot to get the money. Businessman (who has an unhealthy obsession with goldfish that are not necessarily gold) wants to buy bf's employer's pet store, keep the bf working there at his current slave wages, and own outright any more inventions he might create.

A little bit later, businessman is discovered dead by Mason, golddigger, and Mrs. Businessman. The cops and DA come down on the golddigger pretty fast, but Mason realizes that Mrs. Businessman, businessman's partner, businessman's ex-wife, businessman's ex-wife's business advisor, businessman's partner in a shady deal, and pet store owner all have some degree of motive. But he doesn't have to figure out who did it, or how--he just has to prove Golddigger didn't. He sticks to that part of being a lawyer, even if he's a little hazy on the whole "operating completely within the law" thing, which was also weird, because I remember Burr being a pretty straight arrow.

In the end, it turns out to be so convoluted that, as my friend Dave once said, "you'd have to be James Bond to figure that out without a whiteboard and a slide rule." Well, James Bond or Perry Mason.

*actually, she really was rolling with a broke... um, cracker.

Labels: , , ,

posted by reyn at 6:03 PM


Thursday, February 05, 2009

no, not that one

Title: Proven Guilty
Author: Jim Butcher
Bookmark: flattened candy box from Halloween leftovers

This is a story of a wizard names Harry who spends an inordinate amount of time fighting dark magic while struggling to maintain his life in the real world. Not that Harry. This Harry is named Dresden, and was named by his father after Harry Houdini (one of my childhood heroes). I know, it still sounds like a bit of a rip off, but that doesn't mean it's not really cool.

The Dresden Files, in addition to being a short-lived TV series, is a growing list of books that started as a protest against a writing assignment. This is number eight, because it was the only one on the shelf when I decided I wanted to read them. It's obvious that there are threads running throughout the series (one of the big plotlines in this book isn't even completely resolved), but Butcher does an elegant, subtle job of letting you know what you need to know without being heavy-handed and obvious.

Harry Dresden seems to be the undiscovered love child of Hermione Granger and Philip Marlowe, spouting off defensive spells and one-liners with equal ease. In this episode, he confronts an unspecified threat bringing phobophages (demons that feed on fear, and in this case, take the form of movie monsters) into our world from the Nevernever, deals with an ongoing war between the White Council of Wizards and the Red Court of vampires, starts a civil war in the Nevernever between Summer and Winter faeries, sees his brother (a sort-of vampire) move out of his apartment, struggles to protect the family of his friend (a holy warrior who carries one of three sacred swords, each of which contains a nail of the Cross, and seems to take his orders from God, or someone close), and wrangles politically with the most powerful wizard alive. Oh, and he does it all aided by a dog that may not be mortal while battling internally with a fallen angel who took up residence in his brain when he touched a cursed Roman coin in an earlier book.

There are a couple very minor concerns with continuity, and things get especially weird in the last third of the book, which takes place largely in the Nevernever, but it's still good fun. I might have to hunt down some of the earlier books to figure out what the hell's going on.

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by reyn at 11:25 PM