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Perry Mason Solves the Case of the Haunted Husband Paperback – 1962


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: POCKET BOOKS (1962)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000H52EZW
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,686,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) is a prolific American author best known for his works centered on the lawyer-detective Perry Mason. At the time of his death in March of 1970, in Ventura, California, Gardner was "the most widely read of all American writers" and "the most widely translated author in the world," according to social historian Russell Nye. The first Perry Mason novel, The Case of The Velvet Claws, published in 1933, had sold twenty-eight million copies in its first fifteen years. In the mid-1950s, the Perry Mason novels were selling at the rate of twenty thousand copies a day. There have been six motion pictures based on his work and the hugely popular Perry Mason television series starring Raymond Burr, which aired for nine years and 271 episodes.

As author William F. Nolan notes, "Gardner, more than any other writer, popularized the law profession for a mass-market audience, melding fact and fiction to achieve a unique blend; no one ever handled courtroom drama better than he did."

Richard Senate further sums up the significance of Gardner?s contribution: "Although the character of Perry Mason is not unique as a 'lawyer-sleuth,' he is the first to come to anyone's mind when it comes to sheer brilliance in solving courtroom-detective cases by rather unconventional means. Besides 'Tarzan,' 'Sherlock Holmes,' 'Superman' ? 'Perry Mason' qualifies as an American icon of popular culture in the twentieth century."

Gardner's writing has touched a lot of people including a number of high profile figures. Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill say in their 1987 book, The Perry Mason TV Show Book that Harry S. Truman was a fan and that it is rumored that when Einstein died, a Perry Mason book was at his bedside. They further describe that when Raymond Burr met Pope John XXIII, the actor reported that the pontiff "seemed to know all about Perry Mason." Federal judge Sonya Sotomayor frequently mentions how Perry Mason was one of her earliest influences.

Starting with his first book, Gardner had a very definite vision of the shape the Perry Mason character would take:

"I want to make my hero a fighter," he wrote to his publisher, "not by having him be ruthless to women and underlings, but by creating a character who, with infinite patience jockeys his enemies into a position where he can deliver one good knockout punch."

Author Photo: Courtesy of Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

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By henry on February 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
I've been reading Gardner's Perry Mason books off and on for many years. Many years ago, I was an intense fan of the series, and read them all, at least once. Now, after a lot of water over the dam, I'm looking at them again.

Those who are used to really fine mystery writers, such as Ross Macdonald, may find the writing style here off-putting. It can be stiff and mechanical. Nonetheless, I still love the general setting: the characters of Perry, Della, Paul, Lt. Tragg, and Hamilton Berger. That, and the ingenious plots, are why I read Perry Mason.

On the whole, the ones written by 1945 are the best. This one was written in 1941, and is an exception to the rule: it's one of the few that I did not especially like. It begins with a young woman, Stephane Clair, hitchhiking. She is picked up by a man who "makes unwanted advances". There is a struggle, the car crashes, killing another driver. The driver of Stephane's car mysteriously vanishes after the crash, no one sees him, and so Stephane is charged with manslaughter. Perry takes the case, and by a complicated chain of evidence, Perry is led to a mysterious man in San Francisco, one L. C. Spinney, and then to a woman from New Orleans who arrives in LA looking for her husband. Perry and Drake take her to a hotel, where various other people shuttle in and out. I won't attempt to summarize all the evidence and reasoning. Eventually the case involves a Hollywood producer, his chauffeur and brother, various uncles, friends, and wives. Two murders occur in that same hotel.

There are some good courtroom scenes, unfortunately not with Hamilton Burger. Lt. Tragg has a strong role, more than usual. Unusually, Perry waxes philosophical at one point.
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Format: Paperback
The Case of the Haunted Husband, Erle Stanley Gardner

Stephane Clair quits her job as a hat check girl, and hitch-hikes to Los Angeles. She is picked up by a wealthy man, who drinks and drives fast. There is an accident; people are injured and one dies. But Stephane is found alone in the car, and charged with manslaughter. A friend obtains Perry Mason's help. The owner of this car says it was stolen, and has an alibi. But did he loan this car to a friend? His insurance covers a stolen car, but not one driven by him, or an agent. The investigation of the owner reveals some curious facts, derived from telephone bills (long distance). This leads to a Mrs. Warfield in New Orleans. A promise of a job brings her to Los Angeles (Chapter VII). This chapter gives an example of proper behavior in a job interview, even one designed to investigate the applicant. Mason puts detectives to work on the witnesses. But Mrs. Warfield outsmarts Mason and Drake (Chapter X)! They find the missing driver, but he won't testify in court to clear Stephane.

Information is found that would clear Stephane. But the chauffeur becomes unavailable to testify, like the missing driver. The police and district attorney are wary of Hollywood influence (Chapter XIX). An interview in the hotel room with the widow points to the likely suspect, and confirms Mason's suspicions. Mrs. Warfield is found in hiding, and the story ends. The ending seems logically flawed to me. Its as if Gardner was afraid to offend Hollywood and the powers behind them. One interesting scene is where a person leaves their hotel room and doesn't lock the door; what a sense of security in those days.

The ending seems logically flawed to me. Its as if Gardner was afraid to offend Hollywood and the powers behind them. One interesting scene is where a person leaves their hotel room and doesn't lock the door; what a sense of security in those days.
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