The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll, by Erle Stanley Gardner
This book is dedicated to Theodore J. Curphey, M.D., Coroner of Los Angeles County, who is trying to get legal medicine used properly. If autopsies do not use current scientific methods then crimes can escape detection, or innocent persons can be convicted of crimes they did not commit. Dr. Curphey formed the Institute of Legal Medicine to combin the medical schools, the law schools, and the police and sheriff's departments in a practical partnership.
This story is about Mildred Crest, whose world collapses when her boyfriend breaks their engagement, and confesses to embezzlement from the company they work for. Mildred goes for a ride, and picks up a hitchhiker. The car crashes and burns, but Mildred decides to assume the hitchhiker's identity - Fern Driscoll. She finds a new job and apartment, and lives a more reclusive life. But an insurance investigator shows up, and asks "Fern Driscoll" to write a statement about the accident. Mildred went from the frying pan into the fire! So now she consults with Perry Mason about a "personal matter". "Fern" tells about the crash from her point of view (Chapter Three); but Mason knows she didn't tell the whole truth. A stranger shows up, tells "Fern" a story, and Mildred confesses she isn't Fern! And this is just the beginning of this story. Then the insurance investigator is stabbed, and the police investigate this murder.
Circumstantial evidence is the best evidence, unless it is misinterpreted. Eyewitness evidence can be deadly and dangerous because there is often no corroboration for this testimony (Chapter Twelve). Whenever a person was unjustly convicted, it is usually on eyewitness evidence. Most people cannot recognize a stranger seen for a few seconds (Chapter Thirteen). Would a prosecution witness who testified falsely be liable for perjury (Chapter Fifteen)? [NO!] Chapter Seventeen has the last day of the preliminary hearing. Mason's cross-examination brings out the hidden facts that will clear his client. It wasn't just the ice picks that were duplicated! There is another shocking surprise, and a happy ending. Mildred Crest has all charges dismissed, current and potential. [Does part of this story remind you of "The Talented Mr. Ripley"?]