This is one of the best of the Perry Masons, hands down. What sets it apart is that for one thing, it's the only Perry I've read where a major client is the criminal. Also, it's got great dialogue & Perry is at his finest, seemingly in some of the biggest trouble he's ever encountered, breaking every rule, and fighting with every weapon he has, whether it's his fists, legal strategy, smart detective work, his loyalty for the right cause, or his wit and "don't mess with me" attitude. It's got a great historical backdrop, filled with Mason going to speakeasies, putting tobacco in his eyes to make himself cry, and breaking and entering, all to get the fair result. Awesome characters, stunning insight into people's minds & thought processes, as well as their hearts. I wish Della was a little more involved in this one & there was more romance between them, but it's still fantastic. This also may be the only time Paul Drake REALLY falls down on the job...it's not just little mistakes, either! Drake thwarts Mason, undermines his case, and helps the criminal! I love the depths of the murderer's deviousness; ESG makes them a totally meticulous, manipulative mastermind, who almost never misses a chance to capitalize on situations and plans the crime to the tiniest detail. This was the almost "perfect crime." Better yet, Mason's own amazing brain is brilliantly displayed. He thinks of everything & is so creative and clever in not only figuring things out, but the methods he uses and strategies he employs just blow me away. The way he proves the solution to the murder is another demonstration of his (and ESG's) phenomenal genius. The case seems impossible to win, but Mason's explanation & proof make his solution to the mystery so apparent that it's impossible to even consider another answer. By the time Perry's done with the criminal, the best lawyers in the world wouldn't have the proverbial snowball's chance of even getting a reduced sentence, and It becomes evident that the murderer is completely guilty of countless other crimes. This is one of the only books where Mason uses another detective agency, which he hires to basically shadow his regular shadow (Paul Drake)! Also, I love how Perry makes the cops look like tools, and how he uses the law to make them seem even sillier. Part of ESG's genius is due to the fact that he really makes the legal system about what matters: He has no problem blithely justifying (legally and ethically) lying to the police or concealing a suspect, for example, but everything Perry does, from the simply technical, to the unconventional and illegal, is done to further the cause of justice. The same Mason who breaks into an apartment gives money to a single mom for her child's education. If you like Perry Mason, this one is a must-read; you will love, love, love it!