Sunday, June 9, 2019

Review of "The Case of the Fenced-In Woman," by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review of

The Case of the Fenced-In Woman, by Erle Stanley Gardner

Four out of five stars

 This Perry Mason tale is different from most of the others as there is no real dramatic courtroom scene where all is revealed. In this case, the identity of the murderer is not revealed during the trial and not completely resolved by Mason at the end. Of course, when Perry Mason makes a statement about what he believes to be the truth at the end, the reader is inclined to agree.

 The plot device of a house being fenced down the middle as a consequence of a divorce action has been used before. Loring Carson is a builder and a horrible husband and there are divorce proceedings between him and his wife Vivian. Given the difference in ownership rights, Vivian is entitled to exactly one physical half of the house.

 Loring Carson has been disingenuous with Morley Eden, convincing him that there is no problem with Vivian’s ownership until he comes home and finds a barbed wire fence through the house, including the swimming pool. Eden is forced to live in the other half of the house. Furthermore, Vivian Carson is a former model and she tries to get Eden to violate her space so that she can get a contempt of court citation. Skimpy bikinis by the pool and a lingerie demonstration party are two of her tactics.

 All this changes when Loring Carson is found stabbed to death in the house and Morley Eden and Vivian Carson are put on trial for his murder. It is a case that sends Mason to Las Vegas where he gambles and plays the game with the women that work in the casinos so that he can obtain the information he desires.

 One very good aspect of this Mason story is that the adversarial relationship between Mason and Lieutenant Tragg is severely downplayed. Tragg even gives Mason praise for his honesty and seeks out his advice when the case seems unsolvable. Since both men want the truth to be discovered, they really should work together more than they do. There was also no appearance by fall-guy district attorney Hamilton Burger. That is always a plus as well.

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