- Published on Amazon.com
The Case of the Lame Canary / El Caso del Canario Cojo, Erle Stanley Gardner
A woman has urgent business with Perry Mason. Rita Swaine brought along a caged canary with a sore foot. She tells Perry about the problem her twin sister has with her new husband Walter Prescott, and the money he has taken from her sister Rosalind. Rosalind has been seeing her old boyfriend Jimmy Driscoll, and Rosalind's husband has threatened her. Rita explains the problem that happened that morning. The case intrigues Perry, so he agrees to take the case. Rita tells of an accident that happened around noon. Perry calls Paul Drake to investigate Walter Prescott, his business associate, the snoopy neighbors, and the man injured in that accident. Perry learns of trouble at the Prescott home (Chapter Three). Perry and Paul question the neighbors about the accident, and learn the homicide squad was at the Prescott house. The dialogue is an interesting as some trial scenes (Chapter Four).
The man injured in the accident has left the hospital, and can't be located. Perry and Paul visit Harry Trader, who drove the truck that was in that accident. Trader will tell them little, except it was the other driver's fault (Chapter Five). Perry and Della Street fly to Reno to locate Rita Swaine. They also find Rosalind Prescott and Jimmy Driscoll. Perry gets the complete story from Rosalind. Della calls to warn about the police, so Perry can call the telephone operator to report their presence. Perry gives good advice to his clients (Chapter Seven). Paul Drake tracks down "Carl Packard", who was injured in that accident; he can't be found. Perry learns he was an insurance detective who investigated fire-bugs connected with an arson ring (Chapter Eight)!
The Coroner holds an inquest and establishes that Walter Prescott was murdered with a pistol, the bullets came from Jimmy Driscoll's gun that was left with Rosalind Prescott (Chapter Ten). This makes Rita Swaine the last person in the house when Walter Prescott was alive. Now Rita tells Perry more about what happened that day. She found Walter Prescott dead when she arrived after Rosalind and Jimmy had left the house! Perry will have a difficult job defending Rita; she withheld evidence from the police. Perry gives her good advice as to her conduct in jail. Paul Drake calls Perry to tell him "Carl Packard" has been found, but will never testify in court.
In Chapter Fourteen Perry tries to imagine what could have happened. Paul Drake drops in to tell that Rita has confessed to what she found when she arrived at the Prescott house. When Perry learns that Walter Prescott's secretary is moving to Reno he comes up with an idea involving the shipping of luggage from Rita Swaine's apartment! This brings out Sergeant Holcomb to investigate. The Coroner holds another inquest into Jason Braun's death. One witness says he wants to leave because he was injured. Perry makes a suggestion, so Dr. Wallace examines a witness on the stand. A commotion breaks out, and a shocking surprise results. Perry's client will be released (Chapter Fifteen). Perry explains it all to Della Street while driving to the harbor for a well-deserved vacation. [The solution reminds me of Graham Greene's "The Third Man".]