Saturday, August 20, 2022

Review of "The Clue of the Forgotten Murder," by Erle Stanley Gardner

 Review of

The Clue of the Forgotten Murder, by Erle Stanley Gardner

Four out of five stars

One of the earliest Gardner mysteries

First published in 1934, this novel does not feature the Perry Mason character and there were at most five Perry Mason stories published before this story. Yet, the reader familiar with the writings of Erle Stanley Gardner will recognize his style. Although at this point, it is not yet as honed as it would become.

 The story is very convoluted, and the two main characters are criminologist Sidney Griff, the brains that cracks the case and Dan Bleeker, the hard-bitten and demanding publisher of a local newspaper. When one of his reporters that is pursuing a story is murdered, Bleeker becomes personally involved in the investigation and when necessary threatens to throw the weight of his paper into the machinations.

 There are many characters, with many of them using false names. It opens with a small town man (Frank Cathay) of great influence and wealth being impersonated for what seems to be no valid reason. When the impersonator is stopped by police and considered under the influence, a woman is with him that claims to be a hitchhiker. Both give a false name and that is the start of a story with many twists and involves an ex-wife, daughter and a several others directly and indirectly involved.  The revelation of the true criminals was a surprise, Gardner sets the stage with so many plausible perpetrators and gives so few clues that it is hard to surmise what is behind so many facades.

 I enjoyed the story as a look back at the early Gardner, his 82 different Perry Mason novels and other stories did a great deal to define the whodunit genre.

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