Perry Mason: The Case Of the Rolling Bones, by Erle Stanley Gardner
Five out of five stars
This case is based on one of the most unusual premises of all of the cases handled by Mason. It involves the apparent situation where a man was murdered twice, once in Alaska and once in California. Furthermore, the murders took place 33 years apart, with the most recent murder taking place in California.
The accused is a former gold miner that struck it rich with his partner in Alaska and the two of them apparently engaged in a fight to the death over the affections of a dance hall girl. Now, the client is a mentally competent but cantankerous old man that seems willing to be convicted of the crime, even though Mason is convinced of his innocence.
There are many twists with aliases, relatives with questionable motives looking to make a score and police and a prosecutor willing to engage in underhanded tactics. The plot moves along quickly and like so many Mason stories, his success is partially based on the incompetence of the officers of the law. One positive feature is that the judge appreciates Mason’s tenacity, his only goal is to get at the truth. Burger and Tragg do not appear in this story.
This is one of the better Mason stories, an impossible situation is resolved through a set of simple explanations of events that were designed to throw off suspicion. As Mason said it, “Be suspicious of the supposedly ironclad alibi.”