The Case of the Daring Decoy, by Erle Stanley Gardner
The `Foreword' is dedicated to Merton Melrose Minter, M.D., a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Minter devotes his `spare time' to studying the problems of evidence for law enforcement, and the part of the citizen in co-operating with various law enforcement agencies. Dr. Minter is a member of the Board of Regents at the University of Texas, and holds many offices in the field of education, banking, and medicine.
The story opens with a proxy fight to gain control of an Oil Exploration Company. Should a company distribute profits, or invest them for greater profits in the future? The CEO gets a phone call that promises him confidential information about his rival's proxies. Conway must go to a room in a hotel for this document. When he enters, a half-dressed woman acts surprised, and waves a gun at him. Conway disarms her, and leaves; he finds one bullet discharged. Thinking this was a set-up to entrap him, he consults Perry Mason. Mason & Drake return to the room to find the body of a young woman - a different person from earlier! Now they must work fast to investigate these strange events, and clear Mason's client. Mason's clients are never really guilty; that's the rule of this series. Also, the real killer is revealed only in the last pages, even if others seem culpable of something.
Examining stomach contents can time the death once they know when the victim ate their last meal. The position after time of death is indicated by lividity. It takes time for lividity to be established. The fatal bullet can be traced to the pistol, if the latter can be found. This book uses these and other facts to create a puzzling mystery that will entertain you until the last page. Circumstantial evidence is the best evidence, but it can be misinterpreted. If salad, turkey, potatoes, and peas are in the victim's stomach, but they only ordered the first three items, how to account for this discrepancy? The plot takes precedence over character development (which is implicit for adults); this keeps the story moving along. The money figures are many decades out of date.