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.

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posted by reyn at 6:03 PM


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