The Case of the Velvet Claws: Perry Mason Series, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Criminal lawyer and bestselling mystery author Erle Stanley Gardner wrote nearly 150 novels that have sold 300 million copies worldwide. Now, the American Bar Association is bringing back his most famous and enduring novels - featuring criminal defense lawyer and sleuth Perry Mason - in striking trade paperback editions.
Married Eva Griffin has been caught with a prominent congressman, and is ready to pay the editor of a sleazy tabloid hush money to protect the politician. But first Perry Mason tracks down the publisher of the blackmailing tabloid and discovers a shocking secret, which eventually leads to Mason being accused of murder.
This is the first Perry Mason mystery and our introduction to secretary Della Street, detective Paul Drake, and the great lawyer himself.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 1 minute|
|Author||Erle Stanley Gardner|
|Audible.ca Release Date||December 27 2015|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #60,902 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#499 in Traditional Detective Mysteries
#3,619 in British Detective Stories
#7,929 in Thrillers & Suspense
Top reviews from Canada
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Rating "Ground Rules": These flaws, and others so staggeringly obvious that enumerating them is akin to using cannons to take out a flea, occur throughout the Gardner books, and can easily be used (with justification) to trash his work. But for this reader they are a "given", part of the literary terrain, and are not relevant to my assessment of the Gardner books. In other words, my assessments of the Perry Mason mysteries turn a blind eye to Erle Stanley Gardner's wooden, style-less writing, inept descriptive passages, unrealistic dialogue, and weak characterizations. As I've just noted, as examples of literary style all of Gardner's books, including the Perry Mason series, are all pretty bad. Nonetheless, the Mason stories are a lot of fun, offering intriguing puzzles, nifty legal gymnastics, courtroom pyrotechnics, and lots of action and close calls for Perry and crew. Basically, you have to turn off the literary sensibilities and enjoy the "guilty" pleasure of a fun read of bad writing. So, my 1-5 star ratings (A, B, C, D, and F) are relative to other books in the Gardner canon, not to other mysteries, and certainly not to literature or general fiction.
"The Case of the Velvet Claws": C
In this inaugural story in the Perry Mason series, Gardner spends a lot of time defining the by now all-too-well-known characteristics of the series - the characters (Della Street, faithful, adoring secretary and Paul Drake, beleaguered, efficient, somewhat dense private detective and Watson to Mason's Holmes), the urban setting, the typical client (in this case, as in so many others, an obstreperous, self-destructive, double-crossing female whose appearance was de rigueur in the pulps and the film noir classics of the forties) and of course our intrepid lawyer-hero - the impatient, no-nonsense, man-of-action who will stop at nothing to honor his client's right to be represented by the best legal mind possible. If all of this sounds a bit comic-bookish, well, it is, since its true ancestors - the pulps of that era - were only marginally removed from that form themselves.
In this outing the mystery is weak, the cast of suspects too small, and the situation and characters stock - lifted straight out of the pulp magazines where Gardner developed his style and his early following. There is none of the courtroom daring-do that earmarks the best of the Perry Mason series. The writing displays more of the dark-alley, rainy-night elements of the hard-boiled pulp style than the later entries in the series, and so has some interest for the reader who wants to trace Gardner's evolution to a new style, one that melds the elements of pulp with his unique blend of convoluted plot, legal intricacies, fast-paced action, and courtroom melodramatics.
In any case, the first few Perry Mason mysteries are very much in the Chinatownish genre--police corruption, decadent rich folks, and some surprise plot twists. To appreciate the earlier (1930s) Perry Masons, one must realize that the simple truth of the matter was that the DA's office was virtually the law enforcement division of the movie industry and the gambling syndicates and the LAPD was willing to frame any convenient sap it could lay its hands on. This explains the incredibly dark view of the establisment in the earlier books. Gardner, who was one of the few white lawyers willing to take Chinese clients in cases against the white establishment, had more than his share of run-ins against the 'Establishment' and more-often-than-not usually won because he was almost as good a lawyer as his creation, Perry Mason. In fact, once or twice he reworked some of his cases into the Perry Mason plots (e.g., the "Twice in Jeopardy" defense for an accused hit and run driver). When the LAPD was cleaned up and became more professional, Gardner retired Seargent Holcomb and brought in Lt. Tragg to update his books.
I have to agree with the earlier characterization and writing style critiques--as great writers go, Gardner would have to rank somewhere below me. However, as great mystery authors go, Gardner's ONLY competition is (the pre-1960s) Agatha Christie. The rest are all also rans but with some honorable mentions. I never pass up a chance to read a Perry Mason mystery because the court scenes are always a delight, there are NEVER any holes in the plot and I can almost never figure out who dunnit and why.
Top reviews from other countries
It is dated in relation to much of what we now take for granted but an interesting period piece of its kind.
Not too sure why I need to say more but 7 more words required until complete entry