Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Review of "The Case of the Silent Partner," by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review of

The Case of the Silent Partner, by Erle Stanley Gardner ISBN 0345321553

Three out of five stars

 This is one of the weakest Perry Mason stories. It opens with Mildreth Faulkner, the successful owner of a small set of flower shops being approached by Harry Peavis, a ruthless competitor. Mildreth’s sister Carla is co-owner of the shops with the exception of a small number of shares of the company stock. When the company was formed, they needed three people to have the necessary number on the board. Carla has a severe heart condition and her husband Bob is unreliable and a gambler.

 Bob is in an auto accident and the story he tells is not accurate. Furthermore, at the time of the accident, a woman named Esther was a passenger in Bob’s car. She works as a hostess in a nightclub and the owner/managers of that club have connections to Peavis. This creates a significantly large set of potential perps when a man is shot and killed where the small number of outstanding shares of stock are involved.

 Mason is retained by Mildreth to represent Carla, so Mason has to walk a fine line in his dealings on the case, for Mildreth does a few questionable things, including meeting Esther at the nightclub. The story moves along, setting up clues that point to several possible shooters. However, none of them is really set up well, the distractors are not as strong as they usually are in a Mason story.

 The strong point of this story is that Mason meets Lieutenant Tragg and they cooperate in the case. Tragg is the replacement for Holcomb, an officer that Mason ran rings around. This is a better premise than the usual antagonistic relationship between Mason and the police. However, that is not enough to elevate this story.

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