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    Review of THE CASE OF THE GLAMOROUS GHOST by Erle Stanley Gardner


    Fawcett, February 2000

    Lawyer Perry Mason knows there's something funny about this case. Nobody is going to hire an attorney famous for criminal defense work if they really want to minimize publicity. But that's the story when he's asked to help an apparent amnesia victim who claims to remember nothing for a mysterious two week period--a period which, it turns out, included the death of her boyfriend, or husband, or exactly what isn't clear. What is clear is that District Attorney Hamilton Burger is sure he's going to win this case. Unfortunately for Mason's track record, Mason suspects that Burger just might be right, this time.

    Perry Mason brings in private investigator Paul Drake and tries to find evidence that will clear his client. He finds plenty of evidence all right--including a treasure of jewels hidden in the amnesiac's luggage. Unfortunately, everything he finds seems merely to nail the coffin tighter around beautiful Elanor Corbin (Hepner). Mason is stumped, and when he can't come up with a case of his own, he starts looking for loose ends in the prosecution case. Still, even the most clever cross-examination can only do so much in an open-and-shut case like this--right?

    Author Erle Stanley Gardner combines courtroom theatrics with solid investigation (using techniques such as ultraviolet light and metal detectors that were state of the art for the 1950s when this book was written) to produce an enjoyable mystery. Mason is slightly pompous, but less so than his adversary, the District Attorney. Sidekick Della Street has a definite appeal of her own--and a snappish personality that will definitely bring a smile to the reader.

    Gardner's story is certainly a product of the 1950s. Race doesn't seem to exist, women are universally emotional and prone to outbursts (and definitely not attorneys or judges), and people smuggle gems as they cruise between Europe and the United States. Still, finding the truth trumps these limitations--even as they provide a useful look into a past that never really was.

    See more reviews of novels by Erle Stanley Gardner.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 10/25/06

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