Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Review of "The Case of the Calendar Girl," by Erle Stanley Gardner

 Review of

The Case of the Calendar Girl, by Erle Stanley Gardner

Four out of five stars

Many potential murderers make it fine Mason fare

 Perry Mason and Della Street are out having a quiet dinner and a man (George Ansley) approaches them with an unusual story. He had just left a tense meeting with a crooked politician on his palatial estate and when he was on the driveway a car came from the other direction, sideswiped him and then crashed. He went to the aid of the occupants and found a pretty young woman lying unconscious and in typical Gardner fashion, her skirt was up near her hips. Thinking she is unconscious Ansley starts off for help but hears her cry out before he can go to far.

 Going back, he finds her conscious and coherent. She insists she is unhurt and asks for a ride back to her residence. Ansley complies and manages to get a couple of kisses in before he drops her off. However, he has been thinking about the incident and is concerned about the legal ramifications, so seeing Mason at a table, asks for his assistance. Mason, Street and Ansley go back to the estate, looking for the car. At 11PM, the gates close and guard dogs are released onto the grounds. The dogs come after them, so Mason and company are forced to make a hasty retreat over the wall. This starts a convoluted series of events, as the politician is found murdered and Ansley is accused of the crime.

 There are several twists to the plot, as the chief aide to the politician constantly changes his story on the witness stand, and after hard cross-examination by Perry Mason, it is clear that Ansley could not have committed the murder. The person who becomes the prime suspect then hires Perry Mason to defend her and the case goes back to court. This time, the judicial finger of guilt is pointed in the right direction and the perpetrator is apprehended.

 While this story is in many ways a typical Perry Mason adventure, there are enough potential murderers to keep you guessing which one did it. The final piece of the puzzle, where an apparently solid alibi is destroyed, comes very late, climactically determining the identity of the murderer. I enjoyed the story, it was interesting and the conversation Mason has with Lieutenant Tragg is one of the best moments in the Mason series. It portrays them as adversaries, yet clearly with a great deal of mutual and professional respect.

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