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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searching for Truth Among the Facts
A young woman visits Perry Mason to inquire about a will; this will probably result in a court trial. Fran Celane's father's will would disinherit her if she married before age 27. Her uncle was the trustee; but if he died Fran would inherit everything. The secret is that Fran got married, and could lose a fortune when this was revealed. Mason rides with Fran to their...
Published on October 27, 2005 by Acute Observer

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1st Perry Mason case
This is the first Perry Mason story written by Erle Stanley Gardner, published in 1933. This is the first and only Perry Mason story I have read. I've heard that the tone of these earlier works are a little 'tougher' than the stories written in the following decades. The first half of the book certainly follows the hard-boiled tradition, as Mason acts a more like a...
Published on February 28, 2003 by Michael Dea


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1st Perry Mason case, February 28, 2003
By 
Michael Dea (Calgary, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Case of the Sulky Girl (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the first Perry Mason story written by Erle Stanley Gardner, published in 1933. This is the first and only Perry Mason story I have read. I've heard that the tone of these earlier works are a little 'tougher' than the stories written in the following decades. The first half of the book certainly follows the hard-boiled tradition, as Mason acts a more like a private dick than a lawyer. But a lawyer he is, and the second half settles into a court-room drama. What does Perry Mason have up his sleeve that will rescue a young lady and her new husband from charges of murdering her uncle to ensure her inheritance?
An enjoyable, light read, although Gardner's writing is a little pedestrian and the build-up to the court case is a little long, with the trial itself resolved a little perfunctorily.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searching for Truth Among the Facts, October 27, 2005
A young woman visits Perry Mason to inquire about a will; this will probably result in a court trial. Fran Celane's father's will would disinherit her if she married before age 27. Her uncle was the trustee; but if he died Fran would inherit everything. The secret is that Fran got married, and could lose a fortune when this was revealed. Mason rides with Fran to their country home, and talks with her uncle, Edward Norton. Uncle Edward is obstinate in preventing Fran from getting her inheritance. "Great riches, with the wrong temperament, frequently lead to great suffering."

In Chapter V Perry gets a call from Fran late at night; her Uncle Edward has just been murdered! Norton's business partner had just left the house when Don Graves looked back and saw someone hit Norton; just a glance out of the rear window of a car. They turned back and found the body. As in other stories, people reveal their character through their statements. Chapter X provides an example of how a criminal lawyer could sell out his client for the right price. Paul Drake explains how private detectives use a "rough shadow" (Chapter XII). Chapter XIV tells how the police can lock up a material witness to prevent testimony to a defense attorney! Chapter XVI explains how news photographs are made. Chapter XVII tells how statements made right after the murder "disappeared". "The way to get to the bottom of a murder is to ... find the real explanation of that fact." Chapter XVIII tells how a prisoner can be manipulated into telling a false and incriminating confession! The trial of Fran and Rob starts in Chapter XIX. Chapter XXIII tells how newspapers reports are made for publicity. Chapter XXV explains the significance of having the spectators watching the defendants. Once again, Perry Mason vindicates his clients. Chapter XXVI tells of his successful attempt to raise a doubt in the mind of a key witness. Fran's unpleasant experience was educational and moral; it helped cure her temper. Mason was able to theoretically reconstruct the murder and solve the crime. [I suspected this conclusion in Chapter V, because of an eyewitness who had no corroboration for what was a self-serving statement.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The case of the slick pulpster, August 31, 2014
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“Did you ever hear the story,” asked Perry Mason, in a kindly tone of voice, “of the man who brought suit against his neighbor, claiming to have been bitten by the neighbor’s dog? The neighbor filed an answer in which he denied that his dog was vicious, denied that the dog had bitten the man, and denied that he ever had a dog.”
“Yes,” said Frank Everly, “I’ve heard that yarn. It’s a classic around law school.”
“All right,” said Perry Mason. “The defense in that case became humorous because it took in too much territory. Now, when you’ve got a doubtful case, it’s all right to try and have two strings to your bow. But remember that when you have two strings on a bow, while increasing the factor of safety, you lose the efficiency of the weapon. A bow that has two strings won’t break a string, but it won’t shoot an arrow one quarter of the distance that it would if it only had one string to it.”
“You mean you’re sacrificing everything in this case to concentrate on some one point?” asked the law clerk.
“Yes.”

Erle Stanley Gardner got his start in the pulps, but he was hardly 'gritty,' to use a current term. His 'hard-boiled' style, as far as it goes, consists mainly in playing it close to the vest; literally in Perry Mason's case. He is constantly pacing the floor with his thumbs in the armholes of his vest.. this is "hard-boiled" for "thinking." It can be an effective way of narrating a mystery, since the reader gets very little indication of WHAT Perry Mason is thinking.

I liked the procedural, lawyerly tricks that Mason pulls- at one point he sends ten thousand dollars by registered mail to a false address, just so that the DA won't find proof that his client had some of the victim's money. Another slick move:

“Now,” he told the girl, “you’re going to have a nervous breakdown. You’ll be sent to a sanitarium under another name. The police will find you sooner or later. But I want it to be later."

I also liked how the one-string move is saved to the very end of the book.. H R F Keating calls it "the most formulaic of formula fiction," yet he admits that it can be diverting, even for those who will also read more serious stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not representative of this good series., August 28, 2014
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Normally, I'm OCD about reading every word of a book before reviewing it, but I got half way through this one and I just CANNOT finish it. I bought a bunch of the Perry Mason series when they went on sale recently and this is the fifth one I've read. I liked all of the others. I love old mysteries and the older the better, but perhaps the author was having trouble moving from the pulp short story to the mass market novel when he wrote this one.

The premise is fine. Beautiful heiress's money is tied up in a trust controlled by her uncle and she'll lose it if she marries before age twenty-five. She consults Perry Mason to help break the trust so she can marry her moronic boyfriend. Then the uncle is bumped off and all hell breaks loose. Whodunit?

Unfortunately, it's so poorly written it's not so much "whodunit" as "who cares?" You've got Perry and Della (whose character isn't very well developed at this point) and a young law clerk who runs errand and adds nothing of interest to the story. Della is described as being "about 27 years old." How on earth are you "about" 27? You can be "about 25" or about 30," but surely you're either 27 or you're not. It's must have sounded unconvincing to the author because the next character introduced is the uncle's business partner who's described as being "45, broad-shouldered, and affable." How come we know HIS age to the year, but can't figure out poor Della's?

There are stilted, British expressions and words that sound totally out of place in a hard-boiled, American mystery. The car is called "the machine." The "police representative" is guarding the "clews" needed to convict the "chap" who committed the murder. And Perry is calling on "the telephone instrument" while telling a witness, "one must respect your position." It's like Gardner dozed off while reading Dorothy Sayers.

But the real kicker is when the heiress is said to regard Perry Mason with "limpid" eyes. That's an old word meaning "sparkling" that was much in vogue in 1900. Since the girl is repeatedly described as being expressionless and lifeless, why are her eyes sparkling?

Maybe this clunker gets better in the second half, but I can't waste any more time on it. There are 82 books in this series and most are good and some are excellent. Skip this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Meh. H. R. F. Keating let me down, August 22, 2014
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In my continuing goal to read all of the mysteries on H. R. F. Keating's list of 100 greatest mysteries, I picked up Erle Stanley Gardner's "The Case of the Sulky Girl" on sale. While I've enjoyed the others that I've read so far, I have to say that on this one Mr. Keating let me down.

I read a couple of my father's Perry Mason books when I was a kid, but didn't really remember much about them. Other than that Perry Mason was just Raymond Burr in re-runs of the old TV show so I had no particular expectations.

Unfortunately I found fairly quickly that I wasn't liking the book. I found the writing repetitive and stilted (how many times do we really need to be told that Mason's face was "patient"?) The characters behavior ranged from silly (the "sulky girl") to uncharacteristic (Mason in his confrontation with the soon-to-be victim). I thought perhaps the book made Keating's list due to an extremely clever solution, but, nope, it was exactly what I assumed it to be. Perhaps it was the inclusion of courtroom scenes, which was a departure from most mysteries, but, when they are so overwrought and silly it is hardly a redeeming characteristic.

Maybe I've been spoiled by the "hard boiled" mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet, the cleverness of some late Victorians like Jacques Futrelle and great mysteries/characters of Golden Agers like Sayers , but I really couldn't find anything to like about this book. In Mr. Keating's defense I understand that he was trying to find a representative for each year in the 20th century so his picks may not have been an author's best. But Dorothy Sayers' "Murder Must Advertise" and Georgette Heyer's "Why Shoot a Butler" were published the same year and either would be a better choice. I think I need to break down and buy Keating's Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books which will presumably explain why he made the choices he did.

For anyone interested in old, classic mysteries I would recommend exploring the other authors mentioned above before considering "Sulky Girl".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Client who Sought Help After the Fact, May 26, 2002
This review is from: The Case of the Sulky Girl (Mass Market Paperback)
Frances was accustomed to doing things her way. However, under the terms of her father's spendthrift trust, she was powerless to marry until age 25 unless she risked being cut out completely. She retained Perry Mason to break the will, despite it's iron-clad terms which gave her uncle absolute power over the fortune in the trust.
The will did leave a loophole - if her uncle died before the terms expired, Frances would get the money absolutely. So it was completely in her favor when Frances's uncle was murdered - until she found herself as the prime suspect.
This was Mason's first recorded trial, though not the first book (The Case of the Velvet Claws was the first, and had no trial scene). He handles it expertly, but it all comes down to a typical Perry Mason trick to confuse a witness. It works, but not as well as some of his later works.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, February 16, 2011
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Love this! This is a very exciting CD set. Colonial Radio Theater does a great job with this story. I have read Perry Mason stories for years and Perry is just like the book...Sorry Paymond Burr! CRT never disappoints. All the dramatizations from Colonial Radio Theater are the best-you can listen to them many, many times If I could I would rate this 10 stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Mystery, May 31, 2014
This was a pleasure to read. The clues were generally there. The characters are not as cardboard as in some mysteries. This was one of several that was used in the Perry Mason series and I could envision Raymond Burr as I read Mr. Gardner's description
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Case of the 21st Century Adaptation of a 1930s Novel, May 7, 2011
By 
Adam (Boise, ID, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When an actor so well defines a character, it's easy to forget the character predated him. Such is the case with Raymond Burr and Perry Mason. Before Perry Mason came to television, the character was in Erle Stanley Gardener's novels and in six movies.

In their adaptations of Perry Mason for the radio, the Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air seeks to faithfully recreate the novels from the 1930s rather than the Television program. The first to be released is Perry Mason and the Case of the Sulky Girl.

A 23-year old spoiled rich heiress (Kimberly McCord) whose father left everything to her and put it in a spendthrift trust managed by her tightwad Uncle and with a prohibition on marrying before turns to Perry Mason (Jerry Robbins) to get help breaking the trust. Mason suspects that she's not telling him everything and learns she's been secretly married which could give her uncle reason to cut off the trust immediately and leave her with only $5,000. Without telling the uncle about the marriage, Perry tries to reason with him but to no avail.

Then, that same night, the uncle is murdered and his client lies to him and the police, giving her a false alibi. His client is charged with murder, along with her secret husband. Mason has to prove she's innocent and find what really happened.

This was a very good murder mystery with a lot of twists and a focus that rested almost completely on Mason, who was in nearly every scene.

The story is well-paced and a bit more hard boiled than Burr's portrayal. This Perry Mason does bend the rules, having his client fake a nervous breakdown to send her to a sanitarium, so he can have time to plan. His client also stupidly took $38,000 off of her uncle's body to pay off a blackmailing and to give Perry a retainer. Mason stuffs the $10,000 retainer in an envelope and mails it to a fictitious address.

However, Mason is in a tough game against lawyers who are very seedy. The murderer makes a clumsy effort to frame a chauffeur who was passed out drunk by planting $2,000 on him. The chauffeur's lawyer offers to get his client to plead guilty to manslaughter--in exchange for a $50,000 fee. Rather than the ethical Hamilton Burger (who would not be introduced for four more novels), Mason draws the crookedest prosecutor around.

Against such odds, Robbins' Mason is tough and smart, as he tries to represent the interests of his client. Robbins' is supported by a solid cast, McCord in particular does a great job as the bratty heiress. The Courtroom scenes are slightly stiff by everyone but Mason, but I think this was to create a sense of realism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A nice bit of intro to the start of the series, December 30, 2014
A nice bit of intro to the start of the series. We know about how old Della is, a bit of her history, and Perry is described quite a lot without giving any real details to his past except that he's well know for pulling miracles out of a hat during cases. We see Paul drake and a law clerk who's working with Perry.
First... This story should have been spell-checked better. There are a few blips here and there, and some spacing mistakes, that someone should have caught. Not a horrible number of them, but they do crop up once in awhile and annoy.

The case is as convoluted as usual, with lying clients, lying witness' and a D.A.'s office that is playing fast and loose with clues they don't like as well as playing footsie with the newspapers.

Interesting to see where Perry draws the line with playing fast and loose with some clues, (especially the location of his clients, who get 'hidden' away from police detectives quite a bit, IIRC) and where he's drawn the line on messing with things. Perry has his own rules, which he follows religiously, but they're not always on the side that will keep him out of jail if he gets caught. Not to mention when his own clients tend to try to set him up, or get him in a tight spot because of their lies.

Typical Perry Mason fare, and one I enjoyed. I'm not a fan of the show, but enjoy these a lot more. That dangerous line Perry walks keeps me turning pages just to see not only 'who dun it' but how Perry saves the day for his clients.
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The Case of the Sulky Girl
The Case of the Sulky Girl by Erle Stanley Gardner (Mass Market Paperback - January 13, 1992)
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