The Case of the Velvet Claws Hardcover – Jun 2002
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From the Publisher
I started reading Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason mysteries over thirty years ago, long before I ever imagined that I would be working in New York publishing -- and specifically for the longtime paperback reprinter of Mr. Gardner. Like so many other people my age, I also grew up with the Perry Mason television series starring Raymond Burr. And Raymond Burr has always been (and always will be) in my mind's eye as I read the novels. Considering how popular the legal thriller genre became with Grisham, Turow, et al., I guess we owe Erle Stanley Gardner (also a lawyer-turned-novelist) a debt of gratitude for starting the franchise so many years ago. (THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS was Perry Mason's debut, back in 1933.) Mr. Gardner died in 1970, and Raymond Burr in 1993; but in the novels (now recently reissued in colorful vintage packages by Ballantine), Perry Mason lives!
--Joe Blades, Associate Publisher --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›