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The Case of the Velvet Claws [Hardcover]

Erle Stanley Gardner
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 2002 The Best Mysteries of All Time
From the moment he first takes on a case for Eva Griffin, Perry Mason finds himself just one small step ahead of embezzlers, blackmailers, and the police. Reissue.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, not Great, but still well worth a read July 20 2002
I agree with the earlier reviewers that there is a notable shift between the earlier Perry Masons and the ones he wrote starting in about 1939/1940 or so. The earlier ones are definitely a straight continuation of Gardner's pulp books (Paul Pry, etc) and belong firmly in the Sam Spade category. The Perry here is very different from the Perry of the TV show and the later Perry of the books. Since Gardner kept tight control over the TV scripts, I imagine that the later book Perry resembles the TV Perry very closely for a reason....
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.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Background: The stylistic heritage of the Perry Mason mysteries is the American pulp magazines of the 1920s. In the early Mason mysteries, Perry - a good-looking, broad-shouldered, two-fisted, man of action - is constantly stiff-arming sultry beauties on his way to an explosive encounter that precipitates the book's climactic action sequence. In the opening chapters of these stories, Gardner subjects the reader to assertive passages that Mason is a crusader for justice, a man so action-oriented he is constitutionally incapable of sitting in his office and waiting for a case to come to him or to develop on its own once it has - he has to be out on the street, in the midst of the action, making things happen, always on the offensive, never standing pat or accepting being put on the defensive. These narrative passages - naïve, embarrassingly crude "character" development - pop up throughout the early books, stopping the narrative dead in its tracks, and putting on full display a non-writer's worst characteristic: telling the reader a character's traits instead of showing them through action, dialogue, and use of other of the writer's tools.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A reader's introduction to Perry Mason and Gang. July 1 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Gardner introduced readers to Perry Mason and his gang--Della Street and Paul Drake in this interesting mystery. Mason does anything and everything for a client, but in this novel, his client tries to set him up as the killer. In order to save himself, Mason has to turn the tables on his client. Della begged Mason not to take the case, and once he did, started to lose faith in him. All works out in the end, and when you are sure you know who the killer is, Gardner twists the plot, and takes you by surprise.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the very first Perry Mason book, and our hero is more akin to Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade than to the character brought to life on TV by Raymond Burr. It's a splendid rattle though a murky 1930's Los Angeles, with a convoluted plot, a femme fatale, and a Della Street who just may have lost faith in her boss.
Great stuff!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Dec 9 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Want a good, classic who-done-it? This is the book for you. They don't write them like this anymore. Do you like Agatha Christie and Rex Stout? If you do, I expect you'd like Gardner.
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