The Perry Mason novels of

Erle Stanley Gardner


This and related pages are copyright © MMV W A Storrer

The novels are cross-linked to the TV shows made from them.

Click below on the title of the Novel of your choice to go directly to its synopsis.

The Case of the;

Lame Canary

Baited Hook

Substitute Face

Silent Partner

Shoplifter's Shoe

Haunted Husband

Perjured Parrot

Empty Tin

Rolling Bones

Drowning Duck

Eleventh Perry Mason Novel, © 1937;

The Case of the Lame Canary

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Perry Mason


Abner Dimmick of Dimmick, Gray & Peabody

Rita Swainae

Paul Drake

Rodney Cuff

Dickey, a lame canary

Sergeant Holcomb

Emil Scanlon, coroner

Della Street

Mrs Weyman

Oscar Overmeyer, deputy D A

Rosalind "Rossy" Prescott

Mrs Weyman's husband, Jackson

Dr Hubert, autopsy surgeon

Walter Prescott

Mabel Foss, Drake's phone operator

E Q James, criminologist . . . a.k.a. Diana Morgan

Jimmy Driscoll

Dr James Wallace

Traffic officer (later Edward Bird)

Truck driver (later, Harry Trader)

Hotel operator

Wrecker operators

Car driver (Carl Packard), a.k.a. . .

Two Reno police in sombreros

Frederick Carpenter

George Wray


Transfer man

Stella Anserson a.k.a. Mrs Snoops

Taxi driver

[Elevator operator]

Desk clerk at Rita's apartment

Red-headed Rosa Hendrix, a.k.a. Jason Braun

[Jack Moore, Bird's partner]

Karl Helmold

[Claire Braun]

Traffic officer at the port

Though Erle Stanley Gardner no longer writes of Paul Drake's glassy, protruding eyes, he still mentions that his face has "an expression of droll humor."

Della is trying to get Perry to take a vacation cruise, and her efforts are woven through the novel's text, but are irrelevant to the murder plot.

"Perry Mason, his thumbs pushed through the arm-holes of his vest . . ." appears several times in this novel and in pretty much every preceeding novel. It gets tiresome after a while.

I doubt that any reader could solve this one with the information Erle Stanley Gardner provides. Even though it is all there, it is too bizarre for any but a Perry Mason to resolve in a way the reader cannot control.


Perry Mason notes to the young woman that the canary in the cage she is holding "has a sore foot." The young woman, Rita Swaine, has barged directly in to his office. She wants Mason to help her sister Rossy, Rosalind Prescott, wife of insurance adjuster Walter who married her for her money and has already taken $12,000 of it from her. The trouble is Jimmy Driscoll, Rossy's former boy friend, who is now in love with her sister, Rita. Jimmy wrote a letter to Rosalind which Walter is using as evidence of alienation of affections. George Wray, partner at Prescott & Wray, says George took no money. Mason tries to put her off - he specializes in murder cases - but she pushes on. This morning she was at Rosalind's house when Jimmy came by without Walter's consent and an automobile accident happened and Mrs Snoops/Stella Anderson saw Jimmy rush out. She was there picking up Rossy's wardrobe trunk and suitcases, and the canary, because her sister had left the house about nine in the morning, afraid Walter might kill her. While she was there, Jimmy, who found her missing at her apartment but got the desk clerk to tell where she'd gone, came to the house and professed his love. Then the crash while she was clipping the canary's claws. Jimmy helped outside, then came back. She told Jimmy to leave and the police caught him as he came out of the house. Mason gives her his private number. She pauses on the way out to ask about the pet store on the corner. Mason says Karl Helmold, an old German, runs it, and she goes. Della suggests that in Rita there is "something furtive, something to be concealed, something of which she was ashamed." Mason suggests they need a vacation, Jackson can handle the office and "we'll get Rossy out of her difficulties. That won't take long."


Paul Drake complains to Mason that "I never saw you yet when you weren't in a hurry." Mason asks Drake to get information on the accident involving Carl Packard. Also, have an operative do what is necessary to find who he contacts under pressure. Interview Stella Anderson.


Karl Helmold says that the girl who left the canary gave her name as Mildred Owens, General Delivery, Reno. Then, getting shaved, massaged and manicured, he ponders why one left claw was not clipped at all, others on the right were cut too short. Heading back to the office Della catches him with an emergency call from Drake. Something's happened at Rosalind's house; Sergeant Holcomb was tipped off by a Mrs. Weyman.


Mason tells Drake to interview Weyman, he'll cover Mrs Snoops. By showing interest only in the accident while Stella is concerned that the police haven't interviewed her about what else she knows, Mason learns what that is. Namely, after the accident she saw Mrs Prescott, no, Rita (they are not twins, but "alike as two peas from the same pod), and Jimmy necking and letting go of the canary. Jimmy gave Rita a blued-steel revolver which she put in a drawer. She's told only Mrs Weyman, a fine woman with a drunken husband. After visiting these two she saw Rita clipping the right claws of the canary. Sergeant Holcomb rings the bell and is greeted by Mason, who warns Mrs Anderson that "So many witnesses are putty in the hand of an officer who wants them to swear to fact which will support his theory of the case." Drake reports he was thrown out of the Weyman house by a drunken husband. They go to a drug store and Drake gets a report. Harry Trader of Trader's Transfer Company was the truck driver, delivering goods to Walter Prescott's garage. Trader stayed at the hospital until the doctor said he was okay and Packard admitted fault. Packard saw something in a window which distracted him. Drake give phone instructions to his operator Mabel. Drake figures that it is Mrs Prescott who's been killed,since Walter Prescott would be at his office, and Mrs (Rosalind) would be playing housewife. Mason points out that Rita Swaine and her boyfriend are at the back of the house at the time of the accident and Packard could have only seen in the front. Who was in the house.


Dr James Wallace tells Mason and Drake that Packard had traumatic amnesia, but he coaxed his memory back. He's from Altaville. Drake calls for a report; Walter Prescott was found in an upstairs bedroom with three shots from a .38. Swaine left the house about 2:30 with the bird cage. The police are looking for her, Rosalind Prescott and Driscoll. // Harry Trader doesn't help Mason and Drake. He knows Prescott, but not Packard or the guy who helped.


Della is awaiting Perry when he arrives at the office. Mason has figured out that Rosalind was necking with Driscoll, not Rita, for they were deep inside in the solarium when she let go of the canary. Yet Rita came to the window and bright light in Rosalind's dress to be sure she'd be seen, and made the mistake of cutting the right claw again and not finishing cutting the left claw, which had one claw uncut. So Driscoll handed Rosalind the gun. When Rosalind realized they'd been seen by Mrs Snoops, she arranged the switch with Rita. They plan to go to Reno via chartered plane so as not to show guilty intent.


At Reno they take a cab up and back down Virginia Street, then enter The Bank Club, and immediately spot Rita and two others who turn out to be Rosalind and Jimmy. They go to Rossy's room. Jimmy keeps trying to deny Mason the truth, while Rossy easily admits that what Mason has deduced is correct. Driscoll came to Rossy with a gun because she thought she was in danger. Rossy came to Reno via San Francisco, with Jimmy. They are surprised to hear that Walter is dead; Rossy hated him. Jimmy gave her a blued-steel .38 Smith & Wesson with a V-shaped piece broken off the pearl handles near the gun butt. Driscoll states he "was with Rosalind all of the time" and Mason knocks the wind out of that. There was a period when Driscoll was not in the solarium; he was telephoning on two occasions. Mason asks if they know what might have distracted Packard and they no of nothing. Mason warns them the police are looking for them. Della calls to warn that Sergeant Holcomb and two local deputies are on the way up. Mason sends Street to the airport and calls the hotel operator and reports three people wanted by the Los Angeles police. Holcomb arrives, finds Mason has reported the wanted people, and they won't waive extradition. He goes to the airport.


Drake reports that Packard has disappeared. His amnesia may have returned. Drake comes to the office and Mason says that the doctor was too quick to say traumatic amnesia. Drake has found that Prescott had an account at Second Fidelity Savings & Loan where he made large cash deposits, way beyond his wife's $12,000. Mason responds to Helmold's phone call. The police have taken the canary. Mason goes to the barber shop, then takes a cab to Prescott & Wray. The receptionist (a red-head) admits him to Mr George Wray, who is all smiles and can't believe Mrs Prescott could have done "anything like that." Wray point to the $20,000 insurance each partner had on the other with which to buy out the partnership on one or other's death; Rosa will get that. He assures Mason that she did not put $12,000 into the business. Drake's call comes to Mason; Carl Packard is Jason Braun. He's a salesman who disappeared a couple of weeks ago from his local apartment. Wray knows Braun as an insurance adjuster whom he saw yesterday; he'll get Claire, his wife, to get in touch. // Frederick Carpenter of the Second Fidelity Savings & Loan refuses to give Mason any help.


Abner Dimmick, of Dimmick, Gray & Peabody, with young assistant Rodney Cuff calls on Mason hoping to join forces, Mason representing Rosalind, he Driscoll, whose interests are identical. Mason thinks not. When they leave Della advises that Emil Scanlon has set the inquest for 8 pm.


Emil Scanlon, with deputy D A Oscar Overmeyer, open the inquest. George Wray has identified Walter Prescott. He last talked to him at 11:55. Autopsy surgeon Dr Hubert fixes death between noon and 2:30. Criminologist E Q James identifies the gun. Stella Anderson describes see in James Driscoll giving the gun to a woman she thinks was Rosalind Prescott, and she later saw Rita Swaine at the window clipping the canary's right claws. Jimmy Driscoll comes to the stand, testifying with Rodney Cuffs approval. Now he tells the story as Mason had ferreted it out earlier. He went to the house without Walter Prescott's knowledge to try to get Rosalind to divorce her husband. He was telephoning when the auto accident happened. Driscoll points out that Walter Prescott was alive at 11:55 because he phoned his partner at that time, so he couldn't have killed him. He and Rosalind left the house at 12:15. To prove his point, he asks Jackson Weyman be called and, though Weyman tries to leave, he is forced to testify. He was standing on the corner before the accident, and saw someone like Driscoll at the phone, then saw Driscoll run out to help. Mason asks only if he's told anyone else this, yes, his wife, and that not as soon as he got home. Mason asks that the autopsy surgeon be recalled, and gets him to admit the crime could have been committed as early as 11:30 or as late as 3:00, but probably between 1:00 and 1:30. Driscoll is recalled and is forced to admit someone else could have been in the house. As they leave the inquest, Mason tells Cuff regarding Driscoll, "God help him if he's lying."


In jail, Rita Swaine says Rosalind killed Prescott, or Jimmy. When she went to the house she found bloodstains in the bathroom, then found Walter. She stole the letter from his pocket and burned it (but did not stir the ashes). Mason cautions her to say nothing to the D A or reporters other than she wants to talk but her lawyer says no. She tells Mason not to drag Rossy into it.


Mason grills Rosalind Prescott. She hedges on protecting Rita, sides with Jimmy, and doesn't know if Stella Anderson had anything against Prescott. Mason cautions her on how to tell the press about her losing love of Walter, realizing after he and she had decided on divorce, that she loved Jimmy when he embraced her. She will get her $12,000 through inheritance. She is bitter towards him, but Mason leaves her with Della to teach her how to behave to reporters. He leaves with Drake to see Jason Braun/Carl Packard who has been found dead under a crashed car out in the mountains west of Los Angeles. As they drive Mason learns from Drake that Prescott had set the stage for keeping a shot gun with which he'd cut loose if a prowler broke in. Because of this, the police took notice when Stella Anderson reported seeing the gun being given Rosalind. Mason is sure there is something phoney about Prescott. Trader had a key to the garage and must have delivered things to Prescott's garage between 12:45 and 1:00. Drake has found that Driscoll is a nice rich play-boy, taking no more than $300 a month from a trust fund worth a couple of million, unless he earns $300 in the month, until he is 35. Rosa Hendrix is leading a double life, at Wrey & Prescott by day, as Diana Morgan by night. At the car crash site they view the body, head bashed in beyond recognition, while a wrecker crew retrieves the car. Paul searches the pockets of the dead man and takes fingerprints that prove he is Packard/Braun. Cuff and Driscoll arrive and Mason catches Cuff with his hand in the pockets of the dead man's coat.


Mason goes to Dimmick to get him to order the bank to release the information he needs. He threatens Cuff with exposure over his stealing Packard's driver's license from the dead man's wallet.


Della and Perry are commiserating over the case and the upcoming cruise when Frederick Carpenter, VP of Second Fidelity Savings & Loan calls and gives the balance in Prescott's account; $69,765.30. Then Mason considers, "the man who was murdered isn't the man who was murdered, but the man who committed the murder." He is rethinking the case from a new viewpoint. Paul arrives and Perry tries to explain the new approach. Paul reports that Rita has confessed to all that happened short of admitting to killing Prescott. Rosa Hendrix/Diana Morgan is planning to leave for Reno. The stuff delivered to Prescott's garage has disappeared. Mrs Weyman saw Trader deliver the stuff; Mr Weyman was at home but indisposed. Drake says Diana Morgan has expensive suitcases with "D M" on them. Diana Morgan will be going to Reno tonight but Rita Hendrix will be at work tomorrow. Is Harry Trader the one moving Diana Morgan's luggage. Drake doesn't know. Perry has Della go out, buy luggage with "D M" on them and send them to Swaine's apartment. He has Della prepare her own "Writ of Habeas Corpus."


At Swaine's apartment, on the basis of a note from Rita Swaine, the building's desk clerk allows the transfer man to take luggage up to Swaine's room. The clerk has orders from Sgt Holcomb to not let anything out of the room, but no order about things going in. Della arrives and says, sorry, the baggage should have been delivered to the Trader's Transfer Company. Holcomb arrives, infuriated, only to learn that Street's baggage didn't go into the room but maybe she did. The clerk tells Holcomb where the luggage is going and that it has the initials "D M" on it. // Scanlon opens the inquest on the death of Packard/Braun. Jackson Weyman, head totally bandaged claims that "Cuts in [his] face got infected" and he wants to leave, but Scanlon won't permit it without a physician's certificate. Dr Wallace testifies that the body is that of Packard, whom he knew by that name because of his driving license. Mason asks what Packard said at the hospital and is told of his description of the accident. As the doctor heads out, Mason asks him to remain a few moments and sit in the seat just vacated by Jackson, next Weyman. Traffic officer Edward Bird testifies to finding the body. No fingerprints were found on the steering wheel. The auto itself was stolen. Mason asks that there is no need to call Mr Weyman but Scanlon disagrees. Then Mason suggests that Dr Wallace determine if Weyman is as ill as he claims. When Dr Wallace remoes a strip of adhesive tape Weyman hits Dr Wallace and tries to leave the room. Wallace pulls the bandages off and discovers "That's the dead man!"


As Mason, with Street and Drake, rushes to the port to catch the cruise ship, he explains the strategy and solution. Holcomb found items stolen from arson sites in the Morgan luggage and Trader implicated Prescott and Morgan with a gang of incendaries. Packard was getting hot on the trail of the firebugs. They had to murder him. The trick was Weyman who was not on the corner as he claimed, using his seeing Driscoll at the phone as his alibi and proof, but in the truck. Trader was waiting for Packard when Packard started for Prescott's house and intentionally ran him off the road. Weyman, who had already been beaten up by his fellow conspirators, was substituted for a dead Packard at the hospital, and played a game of amnesia with the doctor, who believed him. Weyman then returned home with whiskey on his garments and played drunk. Naturally, Packard saw nothing in the window, for it was Weyman as Packard saying so to throw everyone off the trail. This, of course, is why he had to have his face bandaged at the inquest. Weyman put on gloves, took the gun from its hiding place and, since he was Prescott's friend as a fellow conspirator, he could approach him easily, did so, shot him. Though Rita, Stella and Mrs Weyman could have murdered Prescott, none of these would have done it. Prescott, the adjuster, helped "hold up the insurance company for a splendid settlement." How, then, were the goods disposed of? Rita Hendrix alias Diana Morgan used her luggage to get it moved. Jimmy may have know what was going on and was trying to get sufficient information to break the case open.


They arrive at the last minute and the gangplank is pulled up. Paul Drake, Rodney Cuff, Jimmy Driscoll, Rosalind Prescott wave Della and Perry goodbye as Paul calls out that he has a great client, please come back. Now a problem; the luggage has "D M" on it and the "M" cannot be erased. Maybe Della Street should become Della Mason. No way, she say's for as a housewife she'd loose all the fun she has as secretary.

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Twelfth Perry Mason Novel, © 1938;

The Case of the Substitute Face

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Perry Mason

Ship's purser, Mr Buchanan

A different cab driver

Della Street, later, D M Chrenshaw

Sheriff's officers

Morgan Eves

Belle Newberry

Aileen Lenore Fell

Yet another taxicab driver

Roy Amboy Hungerford

Ida Johnson

Roger P Cartman alias James Whitley, a.k.a. James Clerke

Celinda Dail


Garage attendant

Charles Whitmore Dail

Paul Drake

Photo shop woman, Mabel Foss

[Winnie Joyce]

Products Refining Company lawyer

A Drake operative

Mrs Newberry

Margie Trenton

Half a dozen tough babies

C Waker Moar a.k.a. Carl W Newberry

Lobby clerk

Man in general store

[Millionaire Peter Coleman Hungerford]

[Mrs Drake!]

Judge Sturtevant Romley

Evelyn Whiting

Taxi driver

Frank Remington

Her broken-back/neck patient in wheelchair

Arthur P Cutter of Coontz & Cutter

Two police operatives


Two uniformed officers

Adele Adams

Attorney Baldwin Van Densie

Young woman clerk

A man (who whispers in Scudder's ear)

Various ship's passengers

Another cab driver

Inspector Frank Bodfish

Waiters [including Oscar]

Donaldson P Scudder, D A

Christopher Borge, criminologis

Ship's captain Joe Hanson

Frank Bevins

Court baliff

Ship's officer

Marian Whiting


Aboard their cruise ship, on the way from Honolulu back to California, Perry Mason and Della Street are discussing the departure from Hawaii. Mason notices a couple; the woman is Della's roommate, Belle Newberry, her friend Roy Amboy Hungerford. Celinda Dail has her eyes on him; she's daughter of wealthy C Whitmore Dail. Mrs Newberry asks for help; she thinks her husband, C Waker Moar, did not win the lottery as he claims, but embezzled from the Products Refining Company, his employer until he walked out and changed his name to Carl W Newberry. On the ship, someone has taken a picture of her daughter Belle and replaced it with one of actress Winnie Joyce to whom she looks similar. Mason cables Paul Drake to investigate C W Moar and find if Winnie Joyce had a sister.


Perry is joined on deck by Della and Belle Newberry, who teases Mason in her buoyant manner. She's tied to dad another half year, until she reaches twenty-three. She is joined by Roy Hungerford and they go walking in the wind. Perry tells Della of his talk with Mrs Newberry. Telegram from Drake says Products Refining Company is short twenty-five grand. Followed by the fact that there was no sweepstakes or lottery winner named Moar or alias, and Winnie Joyce had no sisters. Mrs Newberry joins them and Mason tells her the situation. She suggests that her husband has spent $5000 and Mason suggests that she give him twenty thousand and he'll try to get a settlement. She warns Mason of the nurse, Evelyn Whiting, and man in neck brace and wheelchair; she thinks her husband knows the nurse. Mason has Della send Jackson order to test Products Refining Company's willingness to settle.


Jackson's wireless states head auditor C Denton Rooney unwilling to settle. Mason cables back to have Drake get dirt on Rooney. Della says Celinda Dail trys to pump her on Belle's background. // Jackson's response is that Rooney will not settle with a crook. He holds his position as company auditor by marriage relationship to president of the company, Charles WHitmore Dail. Mason arranges to see Dail. // Dail shows some interest in settling with Moar. Daughter Celinda wants to know if Mason's client is aboard ship and the attorney sidesteps the question. // Mrs Moar is worried that Celinda was at the meeting with Dail. Mason again suggests that she give him $20,000, not embezzled money, but her money. He suggests she keep her husband from being seen by Dail.


A storm is rolling the ship heavily. Belle comes to Perry to find out what her mother has been telling h im about her father. They spar to no conclusion. She tells Mason her father decided a man was innocent and changed an entire jury to his position. The defense attorney, Van Densie, he thought incompetent. Her dad was afraid "some day he might be accused of crime, and he'd want a good lawyer to represent him." She confides that she has been over her head with Roy and will leave him at the dock.


Della and Perry are among the few at the captain's dinner. Della confides that she thinks Moar/Newberry has "an understanding with" the nurse since he was in her stateroom. Mason goes out on the deck in the storm and, at nine o'clock, hears an explosive sound, a scream, repeated, from two decks above. The ship goes into reverse. "Man overboard!" Mason goes to Mrs Newberry, who doesn't know where her husband is. She is almost undressed. He tells her of the shot and man overboard. Carl's gun is gone. She told him Dail, his president, was aboard and "that Celinda Dail was looking for an opportunity to expose Belle . . ." She fears Carl may have committed suicide. The go out to the deck where Della joins them. then an officer comes asking everyone to return to their cabins. As they return to the Newberry cabin, Belle comes up, worried, then skampers off for Roy, returns. The captain and purser push their way into the cabin and demand answers of Mrs Newberry. They force entry to her closet, find wet clothes. Mason challenges the captain and is told they believe Newberry was murdered. They find the money belt. $18,750. The captain says' he's doing everything possible to find her husband and leaves. Della and Perry leave; she wishes Mrs Newberry weren't his client.


The ship is near port and sheriff's officers are aboard. Roy Hungerford wants to help Mason. He knows an Aileen Fell claims to have seen the murder. She swears there was a light in the hospital and the door was open. Ida Johnson, Fell's roommate, will help Bell. When Mason tells Mrs Newberry of the witness, she say's she's a liar. When she heard "the five short blasts of the whistle" she guessed what had happened. When she left her husband, there was no light in the hospital. Mason tries to get a straight story from her, without success, and warns her of lying a second time. He tells her to keep quite. He's going to find "some weakness in (Products Refining Company) auditing system" before they know Carl Moar is dead. // In Della's room, Belle says she told the officers that they were persecutors. He asks Della to find out who sent the note to Newberry that sent him out on deck. Belle says it was a woman's handwriting. He suggests she do her hair differently and Della reaches for a comb.


Paul Drake is awaiting Perry at the dock. He reports that Rooney accused Moar of embezzlement but the corporation lawyer hesitated over issuing a warrant. Rooney married the sister of the president's wife, who is dead. Rooney is ruled by his wife, and is a tyrant at work. He is playing around with a blonde, Margie Trenton who, in a photo, is wearing a very expensive watch. Mason suggests they can use this against Rooney. Drake says it is a bad time for a murder case in San Francisco since Baldwin Van Densie had a hung jury and the D A thinks there was jury bribing.


Drake and Mason arrive at Trenton's apartment. Drake says she has some sort of past, but he hasn't discovered it. A lobby clerk gets Trenton on the line and they flim flam their way into her apartment, suggest her expensive watch was stolen from Mrs Drake. They get her to call the man who gave it to her, Rooney, and ask him to come to the apartment. Margie believes Rooney is not married. Rooney arrives, indignant to find two men there. He is tricked into taking them to the jeweler in a taxi. Arthur Cutter insists on bringing bunco squad officers to arrest Mason and Drake. Two uniformed officers arrive. Cutter brings the sales documents to Mason to prove Rooney purchased the watch. Mason notes that Rooney is married and spent $4,652.25 on jewelry at the store. Rooney tries to strike Mason, whom the officers now recognize. Mason exposes Rooney as an embezzler. Now Rooney suggests that since Carl Moar is dead, perhaps "we can fix this thing all up so there won't be any publicity." Mason says "No."


Drake mops his head from the scare he's had. Mason hails a cruising cab and goes to his office. Della learns that Rooney has confessed. She tells Perry that Belle and the Mrs are being held and the San Francisco papers have already "run a story about the embezzlement." Roy Hungerford is waiting to see Mason; he understands that Mrs Moar is accoused of murder and his father has called C Waker Moar an embezzler. Roy is in love with Belle. Mason says Belle didn't know about any embezzlement and the money found with Mrs Moar may be hers. Roy says that Evellyn Whiting was the one who sent Moar the note (she was seen by a Frank Bevins) just as Mason gets a call from Donaldson Scudder, San Francisco D A. Mason asks for an immediate preliminary hearing and for Belle's release. Roy goes on; the fell girl now says she saw Mrs Moar shoot her husband. Mason contacts Drake to get a photo of Fell in dinner dress. Drake says he can't and Mason suggests he have a politician "throw a party for the detectives. Tell them it's formal and the dicks will show up in their tuxedos. . ." Roy leaves, having offered financial support, declined by Mason. Under pressure from his boss, Jackson says that he "did everything humanly possible. . ." But he doesn't know Marjorie Trenton, counters Mason.


Della is taking dictation from Perry. Paul Drake reports that Evelyn Whiting is a husband-hater whom Moar fell for. Her sister in San Francisco, Marian Whiting, is wondering what Evelyn will say about Mrs Moar's being accused of murder. Charles Whitmore Dail arrives. He thinks Mason will want to be reasonable, and doesn't want publicity surrounding his company, at first offers $5000 but Mason forces him to double the amount. Della cautions Perry about Mrs Moar; maybe she "had the sudden influx of wealth" and made his death look like suicide, then had to go through with this when she learned the insurance policy wouldn't pay off. Oscar, who waited on their table, wants to return Mason's favors and shows Mason a "long, irregular piece of blue silk print" that was stuck to a "cleat on the outside of the rail." Mason cuts the cloth in three, gives a piece to Drake to check. Drake reports that some woman called to report a man pushed overboard, but Mason thinks it was Mrs Moar. The gun has been found with Mrs Moar's fingerprints on the barrel, but not the butt.


It is raining as Paul and Perry arrive at Marian Whiting's apartment and are admitted. She says Sis Evelyn met Carl Moar five or six years earlier and continued their friendship until two or three months before Carl married. Sis is in Honolulu. Mason plays a game of handwriting analysis, and intentionally gets it wrong, prompting Marion to produce a photo album. One photo shows Sis with her boy friend, Morgan Eves, to whom Marian admits Sis is married. Marian doesn't like Eves, and they cannot yet announce the marriage. Drake has recognized the face and the man "squirmed loose" of "a dead-open-and-shut" murder case. Mason bargains for a photo which has the license plate of a car which Evelyn is entering. In a taxicab they discuss the situation; why did Evelyn sail back to a waiting ambulance yet send letters convincing her sister she was still in Honolulu. Who was her patient and probably her husband. Roger P Cartman alias James Whitley, a.k.a. James Clerke, who's served time in San Quentin and Folsom. Back at the office, the car has been identified as belonging to Morgan Eves. Mason tries to reach Della and is surprised that she is out. // Eves's flat seems vacated. A neighborhood garage attendant says Eves left with "a whole bunch of baggage" and a woman the previous afternoon. Mason goes to the photo shop in Eves's building and asks for Mrs Morgan Eves's photos. Mason balks at the price and the woman helping him takes the photos, wraps them and puts on a gummed label with Eves's address. Then Mason pays for them! The woman saw the man-with-a-broken-back taken upstairs; she hasn't seen him brought down! She also sold an oval picture frame to Mrs Eves. Mason notes that "outside Moar's party" Evelyn is the "only living person on that ship who knew Carl Moar by sight, and whom Moar knew by sight." Mason has Drake's operative pull to the curb at a phone; Della is still not in. // In the Santa Cruz Mountains they find Mrs Eves/Evelyn Whiting in a cabin. She says her husband never went to Honolulu but got off on a launch in the harbor. She could only affford to come back when she got Mr Cartman as a patient. She came back because she thought her husband might be two-timing her. Morgan Eves arrives, says Evelyn knew Moar and met on the deck the murder night. He was dough-heavy but it was hot, he was crazy about Belle, was giving his money to his wife and then taking a powder, possibly suicide, but his wife beat him to it, if the Fell woman is right. Also, Mason is going to come up against some surprise testimony. Evelyn denies sending a note to Moar; the envelope she left on the purser's desk was to pay off chits. They brought Cartman to Eves's apartment and his friends paid up and took him.


In the lobby of his hotel-office, Mason instructs Drake to check up on Cartman. No message from Della, and she's been out of her room all day. Mason tells Drake to throw out a dragnet. Belle joins them and Mason says a witness "will show that Carl was trapped . . . he'd decided to end it all to save you disgrace." Belle identifies the torn blue silk cloth as from an evening gown worn by Evelyn Whiting. Drake surmises Della went to confront Evelyn and Eves has her now. Mason tells Drake to organize a posse of "half a dozen tought babies."


They go back to the mountain cabin with an armed group, find the cabin dark, then empty. The man in the genral store saw Eves and Whiting leave a half hour after Mason left. Drake calls his San Francisco office and knows where Della is, as D M Crenshaw.


Judge Sturtevant Romley calls the preliminary hearing to order. Frank Remington, Products Refining company manager, testifies to Moar's employment and identifies him by photo. Aileen Lenore Fell testifies to seeing the murder just after nine. Then Mason begins his cross-examination, a long one. Step by step he shows that she couldn't have seen what she claims. "Will you kindly tell us just where a woman clad in a backless evening gown, with a front which was altogether too skimpy, a gown which fit so tightly over the hips that you considered it indecent, with her right hand holding to the iron rail of a flight of steps, her left hand holding up the skirt of her evening gown, could have carried a thirty-eight revolver?" "Your idea is that Mrs Moar, standing within three feet of her husband, wasn't certain he was dead when she dragged him to the rail, whereas you, standing some fifty or sixty feet away, took one look at him and are willing to swear that he was dead." Mason then springs the final trap. She wasn't wearing her glasses during all this. Mason gets her to remove her glasses, then holds up a life-size photograph twenty feet from her, a third of the distance at which she claims to have seen the murder, and in light perhaps three times as bright, and she identifies it as the murdered man. It is a photo of the District Attorney, Donaldson Scudder. Mason now shows she couldn't identify either person she saw. Captain Joe Hanson is asked to testify about things related to the murder but Mason objects since no body has been produced, and the captain didn't ascertain if anyone was actually missing.


Drake takes Mason to Della's hideaway, with a car following them. While driving to Berkeley, Drake reports that Roger P Cartman was injured in a car accident, but Cartman came back to the Mainland six weeks before and did not go back to Honolulu. So this is some sort of bunco game where Whiting was sent to bring the ringer to the Mainland. Meeting Moar on ship and the murder broke up the plans. Evelyn knew the jig was up when Mason served the subpoena, which is why she didn't show in court. They arrive at the outskirts of Berkeley and Mason bursts into Della's cabin. Della is distressed, for she is the one who called in the "man overboard" notice! Two police operatives arrest her.


The court is packed when Scudder calls Miss Adele Adams, switchboard operator aboard the ship. Mason's objections prevent her from testifying. Della Street is then called and she testifies to seeing a man pushed overboard by a woman and she can identify neither. The woman fired a revolver into the man once. She then called the bridge and said a man had been pushed overboard. Mason asks her why she never told him and she said she thought, as his secretary, she couldn't be forced to testify. Scudder is advised that the body of Carl Moar has been found.


Della is sorry; 'LAWYER'S SECRETARY CLAIMS SHE CANNOT IDENTIFY MURDERESS' screams the newspaper headline. Drake gets a report; Moar didn't die instantly, but survived maybe fifteen minutes before the gunshot killed him. He was a strong swimmer, had removed his coat, shirt, collar, tie and pants, but couldn't get his shoes off because they were high-laced types, one with a jammed knot. He was not shot with the gun found on deck, his own gun. So there must have been three shots. Mason decides to make the D A find Eves for him. They go to Eves's flat, find broken glass and splintered wood, and the picture of Belle inscribed to Moar, and leave fingerprints. Perry has Della phone Scudder as if she were the real Mrs Eves, tell Scudder her husband has been paid $5000 by Perry Mason to disappear. The three go to a movie. // Back at the hotel, Inspector Bodfish and Borge pick up the three and take them to Eves's room. There Scudder forces Mason to be fingerprinted. Then Mason asks "How the hell are you going to get a jury to convict me on the testimony of an ex-convict . . . a man can't be convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice." Scudder turns the three free. Charles Whitmore Dail is awaiting Mason at the hotel, and pays the attorney $5000 fee plus $5000 for Mrs Moar. He asks Mason to go easy on Celinda, but Mason says he intends to show her bias in the case, which will cook her goose with Roy Hungerford. Then Mason notes to Drake that Moar may have been on a Los Angeles murder jury with Baldwin Van Densie as defense attorney and Morgan Eves on trial. Did Evelyn bring pressure on Moar to acquit her loved one Eves?


The bailiff opens the session. Scudder asks for a forty-eight hour continuance so that he can produce an eye witness to the murder who has been hidden by Perry Mason. To prove his point, he first calls Mabel Foss who gave Mason Mrs Eves's photos. She identifies Eves from a police photo. Then Scudder calls Christopher Borge who identifies Eves as James Whitly a.k.a. James Clerke. Borge found matching fingerprints all over Eves's flat. In Mason's cross-examination he makes a test; can Borge look at three sets of prints without their identifications and identify them. Yes. He finds that two are identical; they are of Cartman and Moar!. How could a man murdered on the sixth have left fingerprints in Eves's flat on the seventh? Mason forces Scudder to bring Evelyn Whiting to court. It all comes out. Yes, she got Moar to change the jury since she believed Morgan Eves to be innocent. Moar was paid off $25,000 for the acquittal. Aboard the ship, he was changed to Cartman on occasion to establish his new identity, since Van Densie was being investigated and Evelyn-Morgan-Van Densie didn't want Moar to be found. They made a dummy which they threw overboard. Della looked up into the rain so couldn't identify Evelyn, while she could identify Della. Moar/Cartman was hiding in Eves's flat; Eves now went back, told Moar he had to move to a new hiding place. He shot Moar (the third bullet) and took him out near the place the dummy was thrown overboard, took his clothes off, put him in a life ring and threw him overboard. Mason knew he'd not gone overboard because he was wearing dress shoes on the ship. Only Moar had a key to the suit-case out of which Belle's photo had been taken; he'd switched the photos because he wanted her picture after he disappeared, but Mrs Moar discovered the switch.


Mason, Street, Drake, Belle, Roy and Mrs Moar are celebrating. Both Belle and Mrs Moar remember Mr Moar fondly, for he did everything to help Belle to a better life; she will have it with Hungerford.

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Thirteenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1938;

The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Perry Mason

Hotel doorman

Court reporter

Della Street

Two cops, one called Jim

Gifford's red-headed nurse

Store elevator girl

Sergeant Holcomb

Mr Marquad


Bill Golding

Virginia Trent's nurse

Dept. Store waitress

Eva Tannis

Two plainclothes officers

Bullying luncher

Platter doorman

Lieutenant Ogilby

White-haired woman, aka Sarah Breel

Platter bartender

Itsumo Shinahara

Department Store maid

Platter floorman

A Drake operative

Store detective, aka Hawkins

Dr Charles Gifford

Judge Barnes

Virginia "Ginny"/ Virgie" Trent


Gentlemen of the press

Assistant manager

Drake's secretary

Cullens' acquaintance

George Trent

Three table lizards

Dr Carl Frankel

Ione Bedford

Maxine waiter

Sarah Breel's out-patient nurse

Austin "Aussie" Cullens

Maxine coat-check girl

Ambulance attendant

Trent's shop foreman

Police properties clerk

Carl Ernest Hogan

Sergeant Tremont

Pete Chennery

Reporters & Photographers

Harry Diggers

Officer at hospital

A juror

Paul Drake

Larry Sampson

Gabels Hotel bellboy

Bullet, bullet, who's got the bullet? If you can keep the Breel gun separate from the Trent gun, and the Cullens bullet separate from the Trent bullet, better than Sgt Holcomb can, you win the prize.

Jackson, Mason's legal aide, is mentioned, but never appears.

Mason still puts his hands in the armholes of his vest when concentrating, and still smokes though not as often or ceremoniously as in the earlier novels.

In chapter 15, we have the first instance in which we have a full chapter outside Mason's purview, with only two characters, a witness and the D A.


Perry Mason and Della Street are caught in a rainstorm, go into a department store and to its restaurant. After placing their order with the waitress, Mason notices a shoplifter, being surveyed by a store maid and detective. The shoplifter, Sarah Breel, is joined by her niece Virginia Trent who tries to pay for Aunt Sarah's shoplifting when accosted by Hawkins, the store detective. Mason joins the happenings, points out that it isn't shoplifting until the items leave the store. An assistant manager takes Hawkins away, then returns with $37.83 worth of merchandise, wrapped, which Ginny pays for with a check.


Virginia Trent tells Mason she believes Aunt Sarah is out shoplifting. She explains that her uncle, George Trent, who is a gem expert, goes on periodic gambling and drunken binges. He's gone, and so are Ione Bedford's diamonds. She thinks Aunt Sarah has stolen them. The gems came to Trent through friend Austin Cullens, who arrives, charges in, and takes charge. Bedford wants her diamonds back. Ione Bedford is brought in. She asks Cullens how much to get the diamonds, if they've been hocked, back; three to four thousand. She asks Mason how much a law suit would cost and he replies with a question that suggests it would be more than un-hocking them, which settles the issue.


Bedford interrupts Mason's dinner to tell him Aussie's found where the gems were hocked. Sergeant Tremont calls Mason to come to headquarters regarding an accident Breel's been in. Perry has Della get Paul Drake on the case, then gets his car from the hotel doorman. Sgt Tremont batters Mason with questions about diamonds, five of which are found at the bottom of Breel's bag, along with some shoplifted goods. Then he shows Mason Breel's shoes, one of which has blood on it. Mason has no comment. Tremont introduces Mason to Harry Diggers, who hit Breel with the running board of his car. Breel says she jumped out from between two cars into the road a second or two before he hit her. He made an inventory of her bag, and noted "a gun lying on the . . ." whereupon Tremont cuts him off.


Mason stops his car at a drug store to check on Cullens' address and phone Della. He resumes driving with Paul Drake, to Cullens' place. They find a fuse blown and a dead Cullens. Drake phones the police. Mason is queried as if he were Drake, then Drake and Mason are badgered by Sgt Holcomb.


Drake reports on Bill Golding and Eva Tannis, owners of the Golden Platter, he the operator, she the come-on girl. They go to the Platter, are admitted by a doorman, give a bartender $5 for two Old Fashioneds and announcement to Golding by the floorman. Admitted to the inner office, Mason asks Golding where are the stones he got from George Trent. Golding's radio is tuned to the police band, so he may know that Cullens is dead. Mason threatens bringing Sgt Holcomb around. They banter and get nowhere. As they leave, Mason instructs Drake to get the goods on gamblers who were there when Cullens visited.


Mason phones Dr Charles Gifford and has him take Sarah Breel under his care. Then he goes to Trent's place, where the janitor takes him up to the fifth-floor office. Virginia Trent is there, writing letters. When he advises her of the car accident and finding of blood on her aunt's shoes, Virginia gets hysterical. Mason gives her whiskey found in a drawer. In the work room, atop packing cases, Mason finds the body of George Trent. Sgt Holcomb arrives just in time to hear Virginia screaming. Holcomb finds a thirty-eight caliber revolver in the whiskey desk. The janitor identifies Trent.


Drake's secretary tells Mason where Della is hiding Bedford. Drake reports they've moved Breel. Mason joins Della and Ione and three table lizards in the Green Room of the Maxine Hotel. Della plays half drunk; it is her birthday. While Ione powders her nose, Mason instructs Drake by phone to have men follow her after she leaves the police station. Ione makes a phone call. At the police station, the properties clerk shows Bedford the confiscated stones; they are not hers.


Perry and Della banter until Paul arrives. He reports that Bedford went to Peter Chennery's apartment; she's his wife. No one was there. Gifford phones Mason; Breel is okey and charged with first-degree murder; Holcomb is on the way. At the hospital, Mason is stopped from seeing Breel by an officer until he knocks on the door and is eventually admitted by Sgt Holcomb. Larry Sampson, deputy DA, a court reporter and a red-headed nurse are there with Dr Gifford and Mrs Breel. Gifford tries to protect his client from strain, Holcomb tries to browbeat her into giving damaging evidence, Mason cautions her about talking at all and Sampson pushes circumstantial evidence she needs to explain. Breel, however, conveniently cannot remember anything since her shoplifting event of the previous day, no matter how Sampson, then Holcomb, try to frighten her with her bag and its contents. When Holcomb starts to get rough, the red-head gives Gifford a hypodermic and Breel is sedated. Holcomb and Sampson get into a fight.


Drake reports that the police gave Virginia Trent the works until she had hysterics good and plenty. Bedford is still at her apartment and Chennery hasn't shown. On the way to confront a banker, Mason tells Drake that it doesn't add up. Were the stones actually pawned at the Golden Platter? Why couldn't Bedford identify the stones she saw. Perhaps Cullens and Golding were working together. At the bank, Mr Marquad denies being at the Golden Platter with a cute little blonde chick, but Drake quotes from his notes and Marquad caves in. Yes, he, as a guest of the house, saw Cullens who had an argument with Golding. After Cullens left, so did Golding and wife, about fifteen minutes to half an hour. They were gone for a while, but back some time before Mason and Drake arrived. Paul and Perry go to Ione Bedford's where she admits to being Mrs Chennery. She explains how, when her husband began fooling around, she countered, and it didn't quite work. Meanwhile she'd met Aussie and fell in love. Aussie offered to use her as a front to his selling second-hand jewels. She never saw the "Bedford diamonds." She cancelled the sale because Aussie told her to do so. She phoned the shop foreman when they knew Trent would be out with exact words provided by Aussie. When she hurried from police headquarters to this apartment it was to prevent Pete from knowing she had an affair. Mason doesn't buy it, thinks she was afraid Pete had murdered Cullens. Chennery bursts into the room. After some exchanges, in which Chennery doesn't seem to know who Cullens is but Ione acts as if she believes he may have killed him, Mason and Drake leave. Mason has Drake put operatives on Bedford, and start checking on stolen gems.


Virginia Trent tells Mason how she was browbeat. Then reveals that she's a crack shot, because she took an interest in her boyfriend's hobby, revolver shooting. Holcomb arrives with two plainclothes officers, and Mason tries to establish the order of facts. George Trent was killed some time Saturday afternoon; he was dressed well, not showing signs of a drunken binge. Virginia couldn't have lifted him to the box that he was found in. His car was parked in a thirty-minute zone. Why did he return to his office? Something which happened at the Golden Platter. Virginia admits she was out shooting with her boyfriend, Lieutenant Ogilby, from one-thirty to six. Mason calls Paul. Only Virginia from eight to nine-ten Saturday, and Sarah ten-thirty to twelve-five Sunday, were in Trent's place until Monday morning from six-thirty Saturday. The autopsy surgeon places Trent's death at four-thirty Saturday. Now Mason tries to force Holcomb to arrest Virginia. Holcomb insists that she couldn't have had the desk gun that afternoon, as it is the one that killed George Trent. Cook Itsumo Shinahara confirms that Virginia and Sarah came in shortly after six and were still there at seven-thirty. Virginia returned the gun at eight. She was not wearing gloves. Holcomb insists then that she did not have the murder gun, since it was wiped clean. Mason agrees to cooperate with Holcomb and keep Virginia quiet about the gun.


Mason muses to Street about the recent ability to identify bullets with guns. Drake reports that Chennery slugged and bound the operative that was watching his apartment, but other operatives arrived in time to tail Bedford. Mason notes the professionalism of Chennery and the one who put a penny in the light socket at Cullens' to blow the fuse. Drake notes Golding is driving a new car. Also, the Bedford diamonds were stolen, and their is a $2000 reward for their return. Mason suggests he split the reward with Holcomb. While doing so, he could put the sergeant on the trail of Pete Chennery. Could he also get a photo of the cylinder of the Trent murder weapon. Now Mason confides in Della that Virginia has a boyfriend, and asks Della to befriend him and get him to pick up all the spent shells from Saturday's shoot.


The Goldings are angry with Mason for having served them with subpoenas. They claim to have been parked in front of Cullens' place when they heard two shots and then saw Trent's sister come out of the house. Perry and Della discuss that problem; if it is a lie, or what if it is not? Paul arrives; the police have picked up the two witnesses who just left Perry's office. Mason searches the office, finds a planted microphone. Mason warns Paul and Della by a typed message. They ad lib that the Goldings are mixed up in the murder.


At the hospital, Sarah Breel is cheerily philosophical. Since she cannot remember anything, she cannot defend herself, notes Mason. They discuss defense strategies.


Returning to his office with Drake, Mason finds the microphone has been removed and the hole patched over. Drake informs Mason that the D A is coaching Diggers on what to say.


Larry Sampson coaches Diggers on what to say in court. Diggers wants to say "I guess" and Sampson says this is not positive enough, coaches him to say the gun was in the bag.


Judge Barnes admonishes the gentlemen of the press regarding disrupting the proceedings. Mason declares "All I want is twelve men and women of intelligence and fairness," somewhat bewildering the judge and assistant D A. Sampson is trapped into examining the jurors and looking as if he distrusts them. An acquaintance of Cullens identifies the body. Dr Carl Frankel testifies to performing the autopsy on Cullens, then George Trent, and Sgt Holcomb was there throughout. During the recess at the end of Harry Diggers' testimony, Mason tells Virginia Trent that he wanted the trial before Sarah Breel recovered her memory. Drake reports that the police have located Ione Bedford. Mason tries to catch Harry Diggers in details, suggesting the bag and gun came from the blue sedan (Golding's car), but does not shake the witness. An ambulance attendant identifies bag and contents. Ballistics expert Carl Ernest Hogan testifies that the fatal bullet was fired from the gun in evidence. Mason brings in the Trent case and its bullet. The first bullet Hogan tested was not the Cullen bullet, according to what Sgt Holcomb told him. Golding testifies to seeing Sarah Breel running from the house after two shots were fired. Mason brings in the fact that Golding runs a gambling establishment by referring to diamonds pledged by Trent to cover losses. Golding denies any such pledge for loses or loans. He didn't want to be mixed up in these events, which, now being exposed, will ruin his business. Sgt Holcomb gives his testimony of finding Cullen dead and Mason and Drake at the scene, then of the contents of the pockets; there was nothing in the left-hand hip pocket. He put the Cullens bullet from the Breel gun in his left-hand vest pocket and the Trent bullet from the Trent gun in his right-hand vest pocket. Mason asks if he didn't confuse the bullets, since it is natural to put an object first into the right-hand vest pocket just as he withdrew the first bullet from that pocket. Holcomb is infuriated, denies Mason's charge. Eva Tannis corroborates Golding's testimony. In his opening statement, Mason asserts that the Breel gun killed Trent, and the Trent gun killed Cullens. Mason gets a very hesitant Sampson to stipulate that Trent was killed in the afternoon. He then calls Lieutenant Ogilby who explains how he and Virginia Trent went out shooting Saturday afternoon, she with a light thirty-eight caliber revolver from the desk since his thirty-eight service revolver was too heavy for her. Hogan brings the Trent gun and Ogilby identifies it absolutely as the one Virginia was using that afternoon when Trent was murdered. All the empty shells at their shooting place match her light thirty-eight. So George Trent could not have been killed with the Trent gun! Mason asks that the jury be taken to the scene of the Cullens crime, but Judge Barnes instead insists that a disinterested investigator go with Mason and Sampson; Mason suggests Hogan.


At Cullens, with a full complement of reporters and photographers, Hogan goes about his task. Mason sees something in a chair and Hogan finds the second bullet. After testing, Hogan confirms that the bullet is from the Breel gun. Back at his office, Della points out that this finding gets Sarah Breel out of a murder case and Virginia Trent into one. Mason replies cheerfully, "After all, you know, someone had to kill him."


Back in court Hogan testifies to what he found. Drake is called and Sampson objects to his testimony as being irrelevant. Though Mason offers to connect it up "to show how the murder could have been perpetuated," Judge Barnes sustains many of Sampson's objections. To get around this, Mason recalls Holcomb, who testifies that jewels in Cullens possession were stolen property and the penny the blew the fuse had fingerprints on it. The defendant was wearing gloves, so couldn't have left the fingerprints. When Mason tries to prove who committed the crime, objections intrude, so Mason says he's not going to waste his time. After Sampson's summation, Mason's points out that all the evidence against Breel is circumstantial. He goes on to show how Holcomb thought he'd been confused and testified to a manifest impossibility. The Trent gun killed Cullens and the Breel gun killed Trent. The Cullens killer was a dead shot with a revolver who shot Cullens after he fired at the intruder and missed. Later Sarah Breel entered the room, now dark, stumbled on the dead Cullens, reached down and found the gun, which she automatically, mechanically, put in her bag then rushed out into the street. Mason closes reminding the jury that they are "sworn to act fairly and impartially." Sampson challenges that it must have been Virginia Trent who killed Cullens. Mason challenges him, then, to prove any flaw in that contention! Which requires Breel to be declared innocent. Sampson says Mason's contention is absurd, and a juror challenges Sampson's declaration. The jury declares Breel not guilty.


At the hotel where Della is keeping Virgie, Mason brings the verdict of not guilty. Vergie explains how it happened. They were looking for Trent. When she, Sarah and Aussie arrived at his apartment, there was someone already there. They entered and that blew out the lights. She gave Cullens her flashlight. Cullens said he'd been robbed of gems and Sarah asked why he kept them there. Cullens then challenged that it was not a thief, but a detective they'd put on his tail. Sarah asks if it's because the gems were stolen. She said they'd say nothing if he'd just tell them where George was, but Aussie screamed out and shot at Aunty. She shot as an unconscious reflex. Sarah told her to go out the back way while she went out the front. The rest is known. Mason then says he's sure Chennery was a gem thief, and was there when they arrived. Cullens killed Trent. Now, the only way they can prosecute Virgie is to show that Cullens was killed with the gun she put in the office drawer, and Sgt Holcomb was so positive, so belligerent, that they'll never get him to change his testimony.


Perry and Della commiserate. He thinks the police will think Chennery killed Trent, but never find him. Della says Vergie was mushy with her boyfriend over the phone, and she can only demonstrate . . .

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Fourteenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1939;

The Case of the Perjured Parrot

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Perry Mason

Sheriff Barnes

Steve Watkins

Della Street

Fred Waner

D A Raymond Sprague

Charles W Sabin

Richard Waid

[Dieter] Helmold

Girl at Mason's Information desk

Arthur Gibbs

[C William Desmond] . . .]

Fremont C Sabin

Mrs Winters

[. . .aka Arthur George Sabin]

Polly, a Parrot

George Wallman, aka . . .

Randolph Bolding

Casanova, Fremont's Parrot

Drake's operative

[Rufus Watkins, aka Rufus W Smith]

[Cutter, Grayson & Bright]

Helen Monteith

Andy Templet

Paul Drake

Mrs Helen Watkins Sabin

Hotel clerk

Sergeant Holcomb

This is another purely time-based murder solution, which principle guides all the best Perry Mason mysteries. The DA sets the crime at one time based on his ordering of available facts, but Mason shows that to be wrong, and a different order really to be operative.


Perry Mason is teased by Della Street over her transferring very old "important unanswered" files into a "lapsed" file, when Charles W Sabin demands an audience, at any price. Sabin is the son of Fremont C Sabin, who was recently murdered and whose philosophy was "The privilege of struggling for achievement was the privilege of living, and to take away that right to struggle was equivalent to taking away life itself." Fremont Sabin was shot in his cabin with a derringer, and a parrot's squawking for food alerted neighbors. The parrot is not Casanova, Fremont's bird. Fremont's second wife, Helen Watkins Sabin, is conniving, and Fremont was unhappy with her.


Perry tells Paul Drake which items to check out, including where Casanova might be. Then he and Della drive up the mountain, stopping by a stream, when Sgt Holcomb and Sheriff Barnes come up the road and stop to greet them. They go to the cabin where Fred Waner is keeping guard. They survey the scene of the crime. Sheriff Barnes explains why he believes the murder was committed about 11 Tuesday morning, which includes a phone call between Fremont Sabin and Richard Waid at 10 the previous evening. Drake phones in with report on parrot dealer Arthur Gibbs. Waid arrives, Mason leaves. He and Della stop a way down the road, discover a wire-tap and cabin it leads to. They inform the sheriff and go back to the cabin, where Barnes informs Mason the Fremont C Sabin was behind efforts to expose vice and graft in the Metropolitan Police.


Drake takes Street and Mason to Arthur Gibbs, who identifies Fremont Sabin as the man he sold a parrot Friday before the murder. Also, Helen Monteith had been asking how to take care of parrots. The legal threesome to Monteith's and hear Casanova crying "Put down the gun, Helen! Don't shoot! My God, you've shot me!" Neighbor Mrs Winters reveals that Helen married George Wallman, whom she then identifies as Fremont Sabin.


They drive to the Sabin's where they are met by a Drake operative. Helen Monteith arrives and Mason grills her; yes, she married Sabin, whom she knew as George Wallman. They honeymooned in the mountain cabin after marrying in Mexico. Mason has Della take her into hiding.


Mason joins the fighting in the Sabin house to which Mrs Helen Watkins Sabin has returned with her son, Steve Watkins. She tries to bully Mason. Waid uncovers her divorce, obtained when she flew back from Honolulu on her world cruise to Reno, then, six weeks later, join the cruise ship in New York on its way to Panama to finish her round the world trip. Watkins picked her up in Panama and brought her back to California. On Tuesday she got the divorce in the afternoon in Reno. She is therefore not divorced if Fremont Sabin, who believed the divorce was good on Monday, was killed Tuesday morning!


On the way back to his office, Mason is stopped by Sgt Holcomb with Sheriff Barnes and DA Raymond Sprague. They adjourn to Mason's office where Holcomb and Sprague accuse Mason of hiding Monteith and being an accessory. Mason tells them of Casanova and the parrot's declaration, and the problem of dating and timing the murder. Drake arrives, reports about Mrs Sabin cutting her cruise short to get a divorce, which Sprague interprets as the morning of the sixth, so she couldn't have committed the murder, being in court at the time. After the visitors leave, Drake continues; it is not likely that gambling interests were tapping Sabin's cabin, but instead private detectives, probably working for Mrs Sabin. Mason phones his pet store friend Helmold for a parrot.


Mason argues the question of who tapped Fremont's phone with Drake as they drive the parrot to Monteith's. Mason makes the switch, picking up Casanova, as Mrs Winters appears in her doorway.


Back at his office, Perry finds Della, who stammers out how Monteith two-timed her and got away. She convinces Perry of how much in love Monteith was with Wallman/Sabin. As soon as she found Monteith gone, she phoned, then threatened, Paul to abduct her when she appears at her house. Paul reports that the certified copy of the decree of divorce is a forgery. He was too late to catch Monteith. The parrot was decapitated. Can a parrot testify? He can't be sworn in and might commit perjury. Drake reports that he has the phone records of the cabin, and many are to Richard Waid and to Reno. Paul doesn't yet know where the 41 caliber bullets were purchased for the derringer from Monteith's library collection.


Sabin and Waid are told by Mason what Casanova has been saying. "But which Helen?" Sabin has found a will, which grants only $100,000 to Helen Watkins Sabin whether or not he dies or they are divorced, the remainder of the estate to be divided equally between him and Fremont's brother Arthur. It was Arthur who set Fremont's latter-day philosophy of life. Mrs Watkins Sabin and son Steve have disappeared. Waid says Fremont was in good spirits when he telephoned at ten Monday night. Mason tells them that the divorce is false. When the two leave, Drake reports that, since the phone at the cabin was out of order, a message must have been delivered between four and 9:30. Maybe, suggests Mason, the phone-tappers put the phone out of commission, or on.


Handwriting expert Randolph Bolding refused to tell Mason what he knows about forgeries involving Fremont Sabin until Mason reminds him that Charles Sabin might not pay his bill. Then he tells Mason that Fremont was having him check certain signatures on large-sum check which were forged; he thinks they may be by Charles Watkins, but Fremont was to mail more items for comparison; the package never arrived. Mason pays $1500, $500 over what Bolding was to get, and takes all the documents, sends them in an envelope to Sheriff Barnes. As he leaves Bolding Mrs Sabin is coming to obtain the documents, then accuses Mason of all sorts of wrong doings for having gotten them before her.


Perry, Paul, Della and Casanova. Maybe Helen Watkins wasn't divorced from her first husband Rufus. She was sending him quite a few checks. Mason places his cards before Barnes, asking only for a fair shake at the inquest. At the jail, Monteith says she got the gun for her husband because he asked her to. She was caught speeding on the way to the cabin Tuesday, so cannot deny being there.


Coroner Andy Templet opens the inquest. Fred Waner and Sheriff Barnes testify to finding the body and the conditions in the cabin. Then Helen Monteith tells her story. She notes that when she came back to the cabin on Tuesday, there was no sign of life, and she drove on back to town. District Attorney Sprague demands she admit she returned to her house to, among other things, to kill the parrot. She says no, but the D A brings in a covered cage, removes the cover to reveal the dead parrot with severed head, sending Helen to near hysterics. Mason protects Helen, then asks her to identify the parrot; she cannot. He then has Drake bring in Casanova, and she identifies him as he squawks "Put down that gun, Helen . . .don't shoot. . .My God, you've shot me." Mason stops further questioning. The coroner calls Helen Watkins Sabin, then Steven Watkins, but neither is present. Sgt Holcomb is called. He testifies to what we already know. An uncleaned creel of fish, the limit, was found in the cabin. Tuesday was the first day fishing was allowed, so that is when Sabin got up at 5:30, the time on the alarm clock, had breakfast, went fishing, returned and prepared a short lunch. He was in a sweater because it was the cool of the morning before the sun hit the roof which would heat the cottage quickly. Mason begins picking at Holcomb's order of events. Why is there wood in the fireplace unused, and no indication of the fireplace having been used the night before? Why are clean sheets on the bed and no used ones to be found? Mason reconstructs. The cooking was the Monday evening meal. Sabin was wearing a sweater because the cottage was cooling after midday heat, but had not lit the fire because it was not yet cold. Clean sheets were on the bed because it hadn't been slept in Monday night! The clock and alarm had run down because Sabin was not alive Tuesday morning to turn it off! The murderer caught the fish Monday, a day before the season, and is the one who claimed to get a phone call at ten that evening, Richard Waid, who exited the room a few minutes earlier!


With Barnes and Monteith, Mason continues. Sabin became alarmed, and had exchanged the parrot. He thought he'd follow up the bigamous marriage to Monteith in Mexico with a legitimate on after the divorce. Waid had timed things so he'd be on the plane to New York when everyone thought the murder was committed, and it would be blamed on Helen Watkins Sabin; he knew nothing of Helen Monteith. Mason suggests he, Della and Helen go driving. At a hotel in the town where George Wallman was looking for a place to open a store they find . . . George Wallman, a k a Arthur George Sabin, the brother who looks almost a twin. Helen has a husband who is alive.


George Sabin explains how he became George Wallman, after his mother. When he heard Casanova, he decided to study him to find who had trained him, so Fremont got another parrot. Mason informs him he gets half of his brother's estate. Perry and Della go off to look at the moonlight.

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Fifteenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1939;

The Case of the Rolling Bones

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Perry Mason

Harold Leeds


Della Street

Opposing counsel

Taxi driver

Alden E Leeds

[Two male nurses]

Newspaper ad girl

Phyllis Leeds

Dr [Parkin C] Londonberry

Four officers

Emily Milicant

Sanitarium nurse

Two plain-clothes men

Ned Barkler

Two policemen

[Another hotel clerk]

Bank cashier

Gertrude Lade

Inez Colton

Uncle Freeman Leeds

Drake's operatives

Oscar Baker

L(ouie) C Conway

Bill Hogarty

Judge Knox

Marcia Whittaker

Male switchboard operator

Bob Kittering

Paul Drake

Long distance operator

Deputy coroner

Apartment manager

Operative # 12

Autopsy surgeon

Guy T Searle

Drake' secretary

William Bittner

Jason Carrel

Hazel Strickland

Ellery Arms manager

John Milicant

Milton Stive

Carl Freehome

Court bailiff

Cafe waitress

Two deputies

Judge Treadwell

Seattle Hotel clerk

Mason now goes most places with Drake in a car, instead of hiring taxi cabs.

Here we meet Gertrude Lade, the infamous Gertie if the TV series. Did anyone ever know her last name in that series?

Jackson, Mason's office aide, seems to be fading into a deserved background.

Beware; Gardner has now hit upon his basic defense principle, time-shift. Just as everyone is certain when the crime was committed, Mason proves otherwise. The Case of the Rolling Bones is a classic example.


Perry Mason is being urged by Della Street to catch up on the mail. Instead he sees Phyllis Leeds about her wealthy uncle Alden Leeds whose relatives are trying to keep their inheritance. Emily Milicant thinks Mr Leeds is being blackmailed. A bank cashier was concerned by a $20,000 check payable to L C Conway, which Leeds guaranteed, and which Phyllis Whittaker cashed. Phyllis is afraid Uncle Freeman would use this against Alden. Ned Barkler insists Alden is not being blackmailed.


Paul Drake reports that Marcia Whittaker lives hard and fast. Her apartment manager took L C Conway as a reference. Conway ran a crooked dice manufacturing operation, now run by Guy T Searle. Phyllis Leeds phones to say Jason Carrel has put Alden in a sanatorium. Mason asks if Alden plays craps for high stakes. Phyllis says John Milicant plays, for twenty-five cents a throw.


Drake reports he's found Whittaker and her split of $20,000, which Searle gave Conway to buy his company. They visit Whittaker in her new and largely unfurnished apartment. She admits that Conway has run out on her. Phyllis and John Milicant (whose description fits that of Conway) are awaiting Mason's return; Milicant hopes his sister will hit it off with Alden. Mason slips out long enough just to get Drake to have Milicant followed.


The bailiff calls the court to order and Judge Treadwell asks Phyllis Leeds questions about her family until opposing counsel object. Treadwell overrules, and again. He then questions Jason Carrel, who admits Alden was carried into the sanitarium by two male nurses. Dr Londonberry then explains why he diagnosed a well-developed psychosis, which included evidence of arcus senilis. In Mason's cross examination, the doctor is cornered when it is noticed that the judge has arcus senilis, but is not psychotic. Judge Treadwell orders a meeting at the sanitarium. Leeds is gone! The nurse describes a visitor for Leeds whose description fits Ned Barkler.


On the way back to the office, Mason is stopped for speeding, claims he's going to a fire, in his office. Della jumps ship and, when Mason arrives with a policeman, there is a fire in his office! The policeman accepts a handful of cigars, and leaves. Gertrude [Lade} set the fire as we learn when Della arrives; she phoned ahead. Mason gives Gertie a $20 a month raise.


Drake tells Mason that Milicant gave his agents the shake. Emily Milicant was in the 'M and N' dance hall in Dawson. She may have been married to [Bill] Hogarty. Phyllis phones to say Alden isn't at home. Drake reports another check has been cashed by a different woman. It was dated today. Emily Milicant has arrived; Drake will set a shadow on her. Mason asks her about her brother's gambling habits and she dodges, but has to admit that a description of L C Conway fits her brother. She is infuriated that, after all she's given him, he'd take Alden for money. She denies having ever been in the Yukon (Dawson). Now Ned Barkler tells how Alden got in touch with him. When asked if he new Emily in Dawson he clams up and says he's checking out.


Perry and Della are shown Paul's cubbyhole of an office by the detective's switchboard operator. Drake says Milicant called a number and is operative got it; it was an unlisted number for L C Conway, so an operative went there. Emily visits Conway about six, John Milicant at 6:29 with Serle (whose company was raided by police about five). Serle left at 6:38. Marcia Whittaker arrived 6:57, left five minutes later. 7:41 Serle returns, out at 8:23. At 10:05 a man who was probably Alden Leeds comes for 11 minutes, but they failed to follow him. 10:21 Whittaker back, out 10:32. Whittaker was happy first visit, not the second. Drake receives a report from Seattle; Leeds partnered with Bill Hogarty. A winter later Leeds was killed in a snowslide. Hogarty came out, rich, disappeared. Back at the office a long distance operator says Marcia Whittaker is on the phone. She indicates she's seen Conway dead. Mason and Street go to Whittakers and straighten up the mess she's left in her haste to get to San Francisco. Marcia arrives in the last hours of night. She got involved with Louie Conway. Milicant was trying to get her family into better circles, and tried to keep John/Louie in line with an allowance, but that didn't work. Louis used her as a front. When she went to his apartment, it was messed up. She knew what they were looking for, papers, that she has. Reluctantly, she gives them to Mason. Apparently, Mason suggests, they represent something Alden Leeds wanted covered up but were only the introduction to blackmail. Mason sends her back to her apartment with instructions on how to behave.


Mason tells Phyllis Leeds that John Milicant was murdered and Uncle Alden may have done it. When she leaves, head spinning like a top, Drake reports the police believe robbery was part of the murder, which occurred between ten and ten-forty-five. It was Alden who went in after ten. Mason wonders if Milicant had diabetes, as his limp was caused by three of his toes having been amputated. Mason wants Drake to fix Serle's phone call to Conway, perhaps as late as ten-thirty. Drake's secretary phones that Serle has been released. Perry is told by Della that the handwriting expert has looked at documents by B C Hogar and Bill Hogarty re marriage to girl from 'M and N Dance Hall.' Maybe Alden Leeds is, in fact, Bill Hogarty. The documents may have been used to prove this. Gertie puts handwriting expert Milton Stive on the phone; Hogar and Hogarty are one.


Mason gets a Home Kitchen Cafe waitress to send Serle to his table. Serle has sold out to the D A, insists Mason, who shows the informant his weakness, thus getting some cooperation. Serle lets out that some phone calls by Conway referred to someone upstairs in the building. Serle, however, will testify his call to Conway was at ten, though Mason points out that it was later. He notes Hazel Strickland, the regular waitress, has taken a powder. A call from Della informs Mason that Alden Leeds and Emily Milicant are in Seattle.


Mason ask the clerk at the Seattle hotel for two rooms. The bellboy takes him to his room. Then he finds Alden Leeds and Emily Milicant together. Leeds says he went to Milicant/Conway to get his money back but, instead, a demand for more was made. Emily thought Marcia, John's girl, was going to spend the night. John had been in a Wisconsin prison, where he lost four toes. Emily finally breaks down and admits she was a dance hall girl at the 'M and N.' Alden then says Emily came to live with him and Hogarty, that Bill decided to kill him but he got Bill first. He then took the name of Hogarty until he got to Seattle. Mason gets a telegram from Della saying their phone has been tapped so the police know where he is. Mason sends Emily to the second room he's rented. Two plain-clothes men are joined by four officers as he leaves the hotel. Mason takes a taxi to the local newspaper and places an ad for information on William Hogarty. He is too late for a plane back to California, so stays in a local hotel. In the morning, Perry calls Della and gives his account of happenings, knowing that the phone is tapped. On the plane from San Francisco to Los Angeles, he reads the newspaper article of the situation regarding who was who, Alden Leeds, Bill Hogarty, and extradition problems. At his office. Drake informs Mason he's located Inez Colton, Jason Carrel's girl. Oscar Baker, who delivered Conway's last meal, is certain of the time. John Milicant, waitress Hazel Strickland and Oscar Baker play the horses.


Judge Knox calls court to order with Bob Kittering the prosecutor. The deputy coroner produces photographs and identifies the contents of Conway's pockets. The autopsy surgeon identifies a carving knife as the murder weapon and fixes the time of death. Jason Carrel identifies the body as John Milicant, brother of Emily Milicant, so called by his uncle Alden. Mason attacks Carrel for his position since Carrel stands to inherit a large sum and acted to protect that. Freeman Leeds testifies to events in the Klondike. Mason asks if this is to show that the body is actually Bill Hogarty. Leeds, like Carrel, denies any discussion of financial advantage re inheritance. Mason attacks Freeman's identification of Alden as his brother, given a lapse of fifty-three years. Oscar Baker testifies to delivering the two dinners at eight-ten, and reclaiming cleaned dishes at ten-forty-five. He thought there was a woman in the bedroom at that time. Handwriting and fingerprint expert William Bittner identifies photographs and fingerprints, including Alden's, found in the murder room. At adjournment, Mason chides Leeds for holding out on searching the room.


Mason gets a coded letter indicating Emily Milicant is in Yuma, Arizona. Drake has located Inez Colton. Paul, Perry and Della go to the Home Kitchen for dinner. Then they beard Colton in her lair at the Ellery Arms Apartments. Playing good cop, bad cop, Mason and Drake get her to admit it was Harold Leeds (not cousin Jason Carrel) who was with her. Harold Leeds approaches in the hallway and is caught by Mason. Harold plays the horses and Inez met him that way. He knew Louie as John Milicant, who said he was due half of Alden Leeds money for he was Bill Hogarty and had documents to prove it. Inez say Alden leaving Milicant's room, found bare plates, and a body. As Mason leaves, a fat, blonde woman who earlier say Mason catch Harold Leeds, watches the trio depart. Then Mason calls Yuma, finds no one registered under the coded name. Then he calls Sgt. Holcomb and tells him how to find Harold Leeds and Inez Colton.


Jail. Alden Leeds doesn't cooperate with Mason, so the attorney mentions that the new gas chamber is worse than the rope. Leeds still doesn't budge. So Mason mentions that Emily Milicant has taken a run-out powder. Leeds admits it was she, not he, who killed Hogarty. Another prospector, Carl Freehome took care of the body, burying it in the hole where he and Hogarty had kept their gold cache and then cleaned out the gold pocket. Leeds went hunting for Emily. Mason returns to his office where Drake reports Ned Barkler and Emily Milicant were hiding out in San Francisco until the cops found them, and his phone lines are tapped.


Court. Bob Kittering calls Harold Leeds. Judge Knox is concerned about hearsay evidence, but Mason doesn't object. Harold identifies Alden as coming out of Milicant/Hogarty/Conway's room at ten-twenty-five. Mason surprises Kittering with no cross-examination. Serle is called and testifies to being in the room until eight-twenty, and calling back at ten o'clock, on the dot. On cross, Mason gets Serle to admit he thought it was Alden Leeds who tipped the police off on his business. Mason tries to get Serle to admit he offered to change his testimony to help Leeds if Leeds would offer some form of financial remuneration. Pursuing this, he asks Serle about his arrest on a felony charge, and his trading the time of the phone call to hurt Alden for not being charged. Mason allows Milicant to be called Hogarty by stipulation. Then asks if he didn't phone Hazel Strickland and tell her to pack and disappear. Didn't he have dinner with Hogarty at six or six-fifteen? Mason confronts Serle; wasn't he angry at Hogarty who took his money for the business he'd now never be able to operate and didn't Hogarty have twenty thousand dollars on him and, knowing how autopsy surgeons fix the time of death from the extent to which digestion has progressed, fake a later meal at eight-ten, when Hogarty was already dead, and fake a ten o'clock phone call? Now Mason pulls a stunt, since Hazel Strickland is not available to prove these charges. He suggests there were two women at a nearby table who saw Serle and Hogarty eating the six o'clock meal. Mason asks Gertie to stand up; she says "That's him all right." Two deputies bring in Emily Milicant. Mason points out that the plates were clean, not even bones from the chops, because Serle and Hogarty did not eat the later meals. Mason notes that the bank, thinking the twenty-thousand dollars given Milicant might be blackmail had taken the note numbers, and they are probably on Serle now. Kittering suggests Mason will be disbarred for his trick. In chambers Mason successfully defends his actions and challenges the district attorney for tapping his phone lines. Mason explains his reasoning, noting Alden Leeds had no need to steal the money, but Serle did. The ordered meal specified lamb chops, even if they had to go out and get them. Hogarty had roast lamb at six, and there is little difference to the autopsy between roast and chop. The question of Milicant as Hogarty is raised, and not answered (then, is the dead man really Carl Freehome, who has four toes lost to frostbite, while Hogarty had three, as noted earlier? This is never answered! But it is certainly hinted at in the next chapter).


Mason is reading the papers, which, sob-sister style, tell the story of Yukon romance as Alden Leeds would have it. Alden, his wife, Phyllis Leeds and Ned Barkler arrive. Mason notes that no one can hold any of them for the murder of Hogarty in Alaska, because Hogarty was killed by Serle!

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Sixteenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1940;

The Case of the Baited Hook

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Perry Mason

Adelle Hastings

Drake's operative

John L Cragmore aka Robert Peltham

Nadine Holmes (Mrs Tidings)

Traffic cop

Curly, Drake's night operative

Radio officer

Coleman Reeger

Night clerk

Jack, in police car

Arthmont A Freel (aka Herkimer Smith)

Negro elevator boy

Sgt Holcomb

Dr Finley C Willmont

Garage man

Another officer

[Tump's daughter]

Olé, janitor


Giltmont Arms liveried doorman

Miss Mysterious

Carl Mattern

Cab driver

A[bigal] E[sther] Tump

Autopsy surgeon

Giltmont Arms desk clerk

Byrl Gailord

Mason's broker

Giltmont Arms bellboy

[Frank Gailord]

Emery B Bolus

Giltmont Arms garage attendant

Marjorie Gailord

Loftus of Loftus & Cale

Hamilton Berger

Albert Tidings

Loftus' information lady

Shorthand reporter

Parker C Stell

Ganten of Ganten, Kline & Shaw

Drake's private detective


Perry Mason is wakened by a phone call from John L Cragmore who offers $2000 if the attorney will immediately meet him at the office. Mason dresses, calls the night operative at the Drake Detective Agency, gets the night clerk to have his car delivered, greets the Negro elevator boy, gets his car from the garage man, and drives to the office building. Janitor Ole greets Mason who goes to Drake's office and gets a report from Curly. Robert Peltham is Cragmore, and has with him Miss Mysterious, whom he wants protected; no one is to know the two have any connection. Peltham gives Mason two one-thousand dollar bills, cuts a ten-thousand dollar bill and gives Mason one-third, the lady two-thirds, which she will give him if she needs help.


Perry explains to Della about the middle-of-the-night meeting with Cragmore and Miss Mysterious. They look through the newspaper for clues to the meeting, find none. A (for Abigail) E Tump arrives with a long story. Sailing from South Africa in 1918 she met two Russian refugees, one of whom was a psychic who foresaw the sinking of the ship and asked her to find her daughter in Russia. The ship was torpedoed, the Russians drowned, she went to Russia, found the child and brought her back. She couldn't keep her herself, put her in the Hidden Home Welfare Society. A childless couple bought her for $1000 thinking she'd never claim the child. The Society was put out of business and the local D A said she'd have to get a private counsel. She did, they failed. She pursued, found the child as Byrl Gailord, here in the city. The Gailords were wealthy, When Frank Gailord died, he gave half his money to Byrl. Mrs Gailord remarried, Albert Tidings, who now runs the trust for Byrl, and Mrs Gailord has died, leaving all her money to Byrl. She thinks Tidings is no good, wants Mason to intervene. Byrl was never formally adopted. Byrl got from Russia to the US as child of influential friends whose passport included a child (who had died). Mason points out that he can act for Gailord only if she authorizes him to do so. Della and Perry consider the situation. Maybe Byrl is intimate with Peltham. Mason calls Tidings to cancel the appointment already made by Tump, and is told the whole thing is poppycock.


Mason is reading in bed when Della calls to ask if he's seen the evening newspaper. Here's the clue missing in the morning; auditors are to examine the books of Elmer Hastings Memorial Hospital, board members Albert Tidings, Robert Peltham and Parker C Stell. On the radio Della heard that a car registered to Tidings was found with bloodstains on the seat. Drake reports that Tidings has been married, twice, to Marjorie Gailord and later Nadine Holmes. Adele Hastings demanded an audit of the hospital. When Mason goes to his office he learns that there is a serious shortage in the trust funds of the hospital. Peltham seems to be out of town and Stell is cooperating fully. Hastings supports Peltham, accuses the other two. Della suggests it is Hastings who holds 2/3 of the ten-thousand dollar bill. Drake comes in, tells Mason that Tidings was going to move in on his separated wife just before the year was up, and thus preventing her from getting a divorce. Mason calls Byrl, gets her permission to act for her and also to allow Tump to act for her. He checks on the ad he had Della place in the newspaper; it gives him a go ahead from Peltham.


Mason and Drake drive up to Tiding's wife's house, find the door open, follow blood stains into a bedroom where they find the body of Tidings. Mrs Tidings aka Nadine Holmes arrives; Mason questions her without letting her see the body. She was visiting friends in Reno. A police officer arrives, throws out questions, chases the three outside and tells Jack, in the police car, to watch them. Sgt Holcomb and an officer arrive and are briefed by Jack. Holcomb and Mason spar. Holmes queries Mason if it isn't the Gailord girl who is his client, and Mason ducks.


Byrl Gailord and Tump are awaiting Mason's arrival. Mason tells of Tidings murder, sometime after noon Tuesday; Tump calls him a crook, but Byrl thinks better of him. Mason suggests they don't need his services. Gertie reports the arrival of Sgt Holcomb. He's come with Carl Mattern, Tidings' secretary. Holcomb, as usual, wants facts, to check on motives. Holcomb gets a phone call. He then bursts into Mason's inner office, and begins questioning Tump, then asks Byrl for confirmation. They concur only on his acting as if he had an appointment with a lady. Mattern confirms, the lady was making some trouble for Tidings. Mattern states that Tidings came into the office about 9:30. He made a deal for stock in Western Prospecting. He took the check to the brokers shortly before eleven Tuesday, and Tidings left with him, and called shortly before noon. Holcomb gets a phone call from the autopsy surgeon, reporting Tidings was killed no later than ten Tuesday morning. Mason tells Tump she now has an alibi, and confirms with Gertie what was told to Holcomb. Mason challenges Mattern, that someone could have imitated Tidings voice on the phone. When the sergeant and Mattern leave, Mason suggests he can help Tump and Gailord regarding the stock deal. Perry and Della converse; he doesn't believe Mattern.


Drake reports that Peltham has skipped out. Mason has him put a tail on whomever has been responding to his newspaper ads, then sets up a way to find the Society bookkeeper. He explains why he thinks the shipwreck story of Tump is false. Mason's broker reports on Western Prospecting, saying the president of the company, Emery B Bolus, unloaded fifty thousand shares of his own stock. Mason calls Loftus of Loftus & Cale and, when he doesn't get information, threatens he'll get fifty thousand dollars. He goes to their office, goes past the information lady and bursts into Loftus' office, only to wait for Ganten of Ganten, Kline & Shaw. Ganten and Mason spar until Emery Bolus arrives. More sparing. Mason leaves Ganten and Loftus worried about Bolus' having money and they stock with Mason wanting the money. Back at his office, Drake has reported that a stunningly beautiful girl has been to the newspaper ad office and is now at a beauty parlor. Mason and Drake head off to see her, parking behind an operative who's held two spaces. When she comes out, Mason follows. Eventually she catches him off guard, refuses to tell him her name. When she tries to get away by calling to a traffic cop that Mason is harassing her, the attorney quickly snatches her purse, then says to the cop that he was only trying to return it to her, if she can identify herself as its owner. In her purse is identification; Adelle Hastings. She is very upset that Mason's uncovered her, then that he knows she's been in touch with Peltham. She only admits that Peltham won't meet him and that he's doing all right. She refuses to say where she was Monday night, from Tuesday noon on is all she'll answer. She says she's only good friends with Coleman Reeger (whom Byrl Gailord may be interested in).


Perry tells Della he thinks Adelle Hastings has the other part of the ten thousand dollars. Drake has shadowed Tump to the secretary for the orphan asylum. Drake reports it is Arthmont A Freel. Mason speaks to Dr Finley C Willmont regarding getting some blood. Then Drake and Mason go to see Freel, who denies ever meeting or knowing Tidings, but eventually admits he tried to bribe him. He did have dealings with Tump, but never told her about Tidings. He says adoption homes want to get rid of children before they are old enough to recognize that they've been adopted, and 90% of mothers can't keep up the payments, so their children get adopted quickly. Freel knows nothing of a daughter to Tump. Mason then tells Freel that Gailord is the illegitimate daughter of Tump's daughter. Coleman Reeger is high society and Tump created the story to get her into that society. Freel admits he was offered fifteen thousand dollars to attest to Tump's claim of Russian noble origins for Byrl, one thousand already paid. The real father is Russian, a refugee, and son of a headwaiter. Tidings wanted him to change his testimony. In Freel's mattress, they find ten one-thousand dollar bills. Freel double-crossed Tump.


A cab driver delivers Mason to the Giltmont Arms where a liveried doorman turns the attorney over to a desk clerk who sends him to his room with a bellboy. Mason enters the next door room, Peltham's, and gets an overcoat. Then he arranges with the garage attendant to fix his car, brought by Della (as his niece), while he ferrets the coat out of the building in Peltham's car. Mason picks up the blood from Willmont, drives Peltham's car to where Tidings' car was found, dumps blood on the car seat and coat. Della picks him up.


Mason confronts Mattern, suggesting the secretary shot Tidings. Mattern has an alibi for every twenty minutes from eleven on, but Mason says this proves he knew Tidings was dead before eleven. A jury could convict him of murder. Mason also threatens Mattern with tax evasion. Now Mattern admits he went to Bolus with a scheme to split money on the stock, but Bolus cut the split. Mason then suggests Mattern had already embezzled from Tidings and the Bolus money was to cover that. Mattern than admits he saw Tidings dead at eight-thirty Tuesday morning, at his wife's house.


Mason informs Tump that Tidings was dead before the stock deal went through. She asks where he'll get the fifty thousand and he says from Bolus, eventually. She might be able to help Adelle Hastings with an alibi if Mason is representing her. Mason and Street head to see Mrs Tidings, the only one who has an alibi for the real time of the murder, therefore must be the one with the other half of the ten thousand dollar bill. Mason explains his reasoning to Mrs Tidings and she gives him the torn bill. She and Peltham were driving home, found Albert in his car, near death. They took him to her home, where he died before they could get help. They removed his shoes and topcoat, and pulled the mud-stained counterpane out from under him, to disguise the time of murder. They then moved Albert's car far from the house. She took a plane to Reno, while he went into hiding. Her car was garaged as Mrs Hushman. Holcomb forces his way in; he's found her car and knows she flew to Reno.


After explaining to Della why he didn't tell Mrs Tidings about Peltham's coat being found in his automobile, the drive out to Adelle Hastings. She wonders if they've found the body. She's upset that he won't leave her a shred of self-respect. Mason threatens to call the police. She then admits Peltham had come to her believing something wrong with the administration of the trust fund. Then, early Tuesday morning, Peltham called her, told her Albert Tidings had been murdered and she must act as if he were still alive. He has been hiding in town. Mason asks about the woman Peltham was in a hurry to meet Monday night, at the turnaround at Mrs Tidings' house. She knows nothing about it.


Back at his office, Peltham has been waiting. He doesn't think there'd be anything inconsistent in Mason's representing Byrl Gailord as well as Mrs Tidings. He didn't know Byrl was a social climber competing with Adelle Hastings. Mason points out that Nadine Holmes Tidings has been taken into custody, since only the murderer knew when Tidings was actually killed and thus had an alibi for that time. Mason tells Della to take Peltham where he can't be found. They sneak him out as Holcomb arrives. Mason stalls until Peltham and Street get away, then goes to headquarters.


At headquarters Mason is accused of being an accessory. Mattern repeats a concocted story that accounts for his actions but suggests Mason knew of the murder when he came to the office early Tuesday. Mason explains what really happened, but does not convince Berger, who claims to have a witness who heard the fatal shot, at about eleven-fifteen. Mason counters with nine-thirty, and goes free when Berger doesn't have a warrant ready.


Mason grins at Sgt Holcomb as the latter wants to serve a warrant on Mason. The attorney explains why Holcomb would rather go over to The Clarion and take credit for solving the case. The key is the lipstick on Tiding's handkerchief. Only someone he trusted could have gotten close enough to kiss him; Byrl. Then Tump came up and he told her he'd expose her, which is when she shot him. She wanted money, had earlier tried to cheat Mason out of a fee, wouldn't hire a lawyer if she could get a settlement without one. Freel didn't get money from her, because she wouldn't pay one if she could chisel a settlement without. Holcomb realizes what is to his advantage, heads to The Clarion. Perry suggests to Della that she and Adelle Hastings and he meet at a cocktail lounge to celebrate.

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Seventeenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1940;

The Case of the Silent Partner

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Click HERE to go to a related TV Episode

Mildreth (MIllie) Faulkner

Perry Mason

Paul Drake

Harry Peavis

Lieutenant Tragg

Mason's receptionist

Corrine Dell

Golden Horn doorman

Mason's switchboard operator

Lois Carling

Golden Horn hat-check girl

Mrs Rockaway

Telephone service person

Golden Horn cashier (Irma Radine?)

Department store cashier (Miss Norton)

Garage attendant

Clint Magard

Peavis's summons server

Della Street

Manager, Everglades Apartments (Mrs Farmer)

Messenger boy

Bob Lawley

Sergeant Mahoney

Detective Bill Copeland

Carlotta (Carla) Lawley

Manager, Molay Arms Apartments

Drug clerk

Traffic Department police person

Dr Finley C Willmont

Judge Grosbeck

Informant, in other accident car

Two ambulance men

Frank Labley of Labley & Cutten

Esther Dilmeyer

Western Union messenger

Plain-clothes officer

Sindler Coll


Court reporter

Nightclub patrons and operators

Autopsy surgeon

Loring Churchill, deputy D A

Harvey J Lynk

This is the first Perry Mason novel in which Mason does not appear in the first chapter, let alone the first paragraph. He doesn't even appear in the second chapter, either. When he does appear, he is still a smoker, and puts his arms in the armholes of his vest when thinking. Also, here we have only the second time that we have a whole chapter outside the purview of Mason after he is involved in the case, the scene between Mildreth Faulkner and Lt Tragg, chapter VI. The first instance was in The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe.

Sergeant Holcomb has been replaced by Lieutenant Tragg, who is willing to cooperate with Mason.

Also, this marks one of the latest entries for Paul Drake, 54% the way through the novel.


Mildreth Faulkner is working on a sketch of flowers when Harry Peavis arrives with five shares of the flower business and an offer to buy 51%. She declines, then leaves, telling her assistant Lois Carling when to close up. She finds a phone book, calls Perry Mason, gets a telephone service, then as her car is being brought to her, a call from Della Street who arranges an appointment for the next morning. At the Lawley's she first encounters Bob, then Carlotta, who say her doctor will have her driving in about two weeks. Millie then tells Bob about Peavis' visit, asks him to produce his stock, and he gets very testy. Neither does he tell the truth about the auto accident, as she finds out at the Traffic Department of police headquarters. From an informant who was in the car hit by Bob, she learns that he was accompanied by Esther Dilmeyer. Another man, Sindler Coll, witnessed the accident.


Esther Dilmeyer is sullen at the Golden Horn nightclub, waiting for a chance to pickup any loose man. Millie approaches her, engages her in conversation, offers her a job at her flower store. She learns that Sindler Coll is Esther's boyfriend, and works for Harvey Lynk who is about to replace Esther with a younger woman. Millie reveals she's related to Lawley, gets Lynk's address, calls Mason and gets Della who arranges a one o'clock in the morning meeting.


Mason finishes his office work a half-hour early when a phone call from Esther Dilmeyer indicates she's been poisoned. Desperate to find her, Mason calls Lt Tragg, who comes by in a police cruiser and takes Mason to the Golden Horn. Tragg pushes the doorman aside, asks the hat-check girl, then the cashier, about Dilmeyer, and is pointed towards Sindler Coll. Next is the Everglade Apartments where they enlist the help of the manager. Mason explains his interest in Dilmeyer. Tragg calls Magard and gets no results. Mason finds a handkerchief next the phone booth, with "D" on it. Eventually Coll arrives, tells where Dilmeyer lives. Mason and Tragg go to the Molay Arms Apartment and the manager opens the door to Dilmeyer's apartment. They find Dilmeyer unconscious, poisoned by chocolates in a box with a card signed "M F," and try to revive her. Mason says he'll pay for her to get care, with Dr Finley C Willmont. Two men arrive with a stretcher.


After Perry tells Della what has transpired, Millie Faulkner shows up. She explains her sister's heart problem, husband Bob's gambling and control of the stock in the business, which she thinks is now in the hand of Harvey Lynk. She sent orchids by Western Union messenger to the Golden Horn with the card signed "M F." Mason gets Lynk's Lilac Canyon cabin address from Millie, sends her home.


Mason drives up Lilac Canyon, finds a police car and lots of people at a cabin near the end of the road. He parks his car. A news reporter recognizes him, asks if he's got a story. Mason learns that Harvey J Lynk has been shot in the back with a thirty-two caliber revolver. As he tries to leave, Tragg spots him. The exchange minor information until Tragg says the doc (autopsy surgeon) says death was at almost exactly midnight. Mason goes to an all-night restaurant and calls Dr Willmont; yes, it was poison, but not enough to kill Dilmeyer, who will be okey in twenty-four hours. Mason goes on to Mildreth Faulkner's, finds her chilled, despite having a thick fur coat, in which he finds a thirty-two caliber revolver, one shot fired. Mildreth insists Mason represent her sister, Carlotta, even after learning Lynk has been murdered. She thinks Bob Lawley did it, or her sister is involved. As Tragg's car pulls up, She fires the gun, throws it under the sofa. Tragg outsmarts her, finds the gun, sends Mason on his way. Carlotta Lawley drives up as Mason gets to his car, and he sends her down the road.


Tragg interrogates Faulkner. He warns her not to answer if she is not guilty, but she insists that she is not and answers. He tries a psychological test and catches her in word association with paraffin. Her response, test, convinces Tragg that she is to be considered a suspect.


Mason returns to Coll's apartment, gets the manager to give him a key to the outside door of Coll's apartment and is thus able to surprise Coll. Does he know who murdered Lynk, or poisoned Dilmeyer? Coll is surprised again when Mason shows him the handkerchief the proves Dilmeyer was there earlier. Maybe he wasn't there all evening. As he leaves, Mason sees another man go to Coll's apartment.


Mason visits Mrs Lawley now a k a Mrs Dunkurk. She says she overheard Millie and Bob, followed Bob to the Lynk cabin with a stop at a store to find out where it was when she lost Bob's trail. At the cabin, she found Lynk, dead, and her stock, which she took, and now gives to Mason with her travelers' checks assigned to Della. When she left the cabin, the door was locked. Mason gets Dr Willmont to come by and check Dunkurk. He says she has a weak heart but is recovering; she needs to stay, undisturbed, in the hotel room. Mason takes Dilmeyer's car down to the business district, polishes off all fingerprints, leaves the car and drops the keys down a drain.


Perry explains to Della that his client will die if given any shock, such as being brought to trial or even being interrogated by a district attorney. He needs Della to pose as Carlotta (though he doesn't say so specifically). She goes off to set the trail. The receptionist lets Peavis in. What he wants is not only the Faulkner Flower Shops but Mildreth Faulkner working for him and then something else. He leaves. Then the switchboard operator lets Magard in; he's the man Mason saw visit Coll. He suggests he'll give Mason information he needs if the Golden Horn is kept out of the public eye. He has an alibi, Coll doesn't. Lawley went to Lynk, not Peavis, and gave him the stock against his gambling debts, to be given back when he made a killing. Lynk wouldn't sell to Peavis but at a much higher price. He leaves. Della returns. She said she almost got caught; Mason identifies Tragg as one of the two officers who came to the department store to get Carlotta Lawley. Perry explains to Della that Lawley was hoping his wife would die due to her weak heart when he exposed her to shock. Lawley didn't murder Lynk, or the stock would be missing. To keep Tragg from identifying Della as the one who has been passing Carlotta's travelers' checks.


Tragg shows up and Della quickly changes her hairdo. He's figured out Mason's ruse at Mildreth's place. The gun was the murder weapon and Mildreth got it from Carlotta. Mrs Rockaway at the service station and grocery store at the mouth of Lilac Canyon has identified Carlotta. The poisoned candy came from the Golden Horn. Then, when they tried to locate Carlotta, the discovered instead a woman using her checks who wasn't Carlotta. So Bob Lawley has murdered his wife. Peavis and Magard talked until about five of midnight, so didn't commit the murder. The phone interrupts. Mildreth has heard from Carlotta whose heart went while Bob was with her. Mason and Street head quickly to the flower shop. Lois Carling watches curiously while they talk with Mildreth. Peavis and a summons server enter, serve Mildreth. The summons is an action to ultimately give Peavis the missing stock. Della returns with the information that Dunkurk has checked out with a man about an hour earlier. Tragg and the department store cashier enter and the latter identifies Della. Mason, however, presents the letter which gives Della the right to the travelers' checks. Tragg suggests this swaps Street for Mason, but Mason tells him where Dunkurk was. A messenger boy bring Peavis a subpoena which is passed on to Mason, ordering him to appear with the missing stock..


Lt Tragg, Detective Copeland and a drug clerk are awaiting the arrival of someone wanting a particular prescription. Tragg will follow, sometimes ahead, of their quarry,with Copeland behind. Their target arrives, gets his prescription, leaves followed by the two policemen. It is Bob Lawley, who leads them to his sick wife. Tragg gives her her medicine and carefully asks questions, learning that she took the stock and Lynk was dead when she arrived.


Mason pulls his car over to get a newspaper from a newsboy. Della finds the ad asking Carla to call Grayview 6-9841 which he learns via the Drake Detective Agency is Dilmeyer's phone. Della reads Drake's report as they drive on. In earlier times, Peavis had been in the liquor-running business and got into trouble with Frank Lecken, aka Sindler Coll. Esther got fired from a place where she met Irma Radine who brought her in as a come-on girl at the Golden Horn. Lynk fell for her, and she got involved with Coll who has a secret girl. At Coll's, manager Farmer has spruced up and Mason, complimenting her, gets into Coll's room. It has been cleaned by the maid since Coll, with another man, left. Mason notes Coll's telephone number. They go on to Dilmeyer's and the manager takes them in. Mason notes that there are three brands of cigarette butts, one with lipstick, while the manager gets things for Dilmeyer. At the hospital Dr Willmont informs Mason that no one is permitted to see Dilmeyer until he's notified the police. He then explains the attendant nurse and he will both be out of the room shortly and Mason takes the cue to visit his patient. Mason is sure someone came in after she passed out. She says no one even knows where her apartment is. Sindler Coll put her in touch with Bob Lawley. When Mason produces her handkerchief, she admits to trying to visit Coll but being turned away. Perry and Della then check the for rent ads, find several and on the third call Mason finds a recently rented place. They drive there and find Tragg driving away with someone handcuffed, and an ambulance.


Judge Grosbeck and Frank Labley are both surprised when Mason wants no continuance and wants to have witnesses heard. Peavis is heard, then Coll, who gets flustered by Mason's questioning. A court reporter has taken Dilmeyer's information and she testifies that it was Coll who got her on to Lawley, not Peavis. Who were friends who knew she'd eat one chocolate after the other; Magard. Other friends were Lawley and Peavis. Mildreth comes forward to congratulate Mason, says she saw Carlotta and she's in a bad way. Carla admitted to Bob there were a few moments when she was following him that she lost him and he says during one of those he picked up a friend who, alone, drove up to Lynk's cabin. Tragg joins in, says deputy D A Loring is on the case and has decided Carlotta is the guilty party. Mason has suppressed evidence, the stock certificates, but Mason refuses to give them up since the court has ordered him to produce them. Mason convinces Tragg that Bob Lawley is hoping to kill his wife by excitement!


Lt Tragg (with reasonable reluctance), Mildreth Faulkner, Della Street and Perry Mason visit Esther Dilmeyer. Mason points out that the paper on which a note is typed as well as the typewriter are identifiable, and the glue used on the label of the package sent her as well. The glue was over forty-eight hours dry. All this points to someone who had the run of the Golden Horn; her. Mason notes that the papers wrapping the pieces of candy she'd eaten were nowhere in the apartment. That is because she took the poison, veronal, directly, and not in candy. She had planned to kill Lynk for some time then got a good opportunity. She gave herself away by trying to implicate too many people. She admits she was angry that Lynk planned to cut her out with his new girl. When she saw Coll leave his apartment, she phoned Mason that she'd been poisoned (that's when she dropped her handkerchief), then she drove to Lynk's cabin, eating unpoisoned candy so there'd be chocolate in her stomach. At the cabin, she took a big dose of veronal, put on a mask and raincoat. She frightened Lawley. Just as he opened the drawer with the stock, she heard someone behind her, the other girl. They wrestled and the gun went off, killing Lynk. As she headed home, the veronal began taking effect. She knew it would take time for Mason to find her. Who is the other woman. One who wants her job and whose job she wants, Lois Carling. Tragg calls headquarters and orders the release of Carlotta Lawley.


Della asks Perry if he's aware that Tragg is falling for Mildreth? Yes. He doesn't think they'll convict Esther, she's good looking, and Lois Carling backed up her story. Peavis will drop his suit when he gets done examining Coll.

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Eighteenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1941;

The Case of the Haunted Husband

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Stephane Clair Olger

Jackson Sterne

Harold Haney

Emily Carr

Max Olger

Frank Corvis

Their boss

Woman at cashier's desk

Other witnesses

First driver

A nurse

Edith Lions

Second driver

Alexander Pitcairn

Court reporter

Hortense "Horty" Zitkousky

Another Drake operative

Mr Smith

Della Street

Gateview manager

[Irma Watkins]

Perry Mason

Gateview bellboy

Ernest A Tanner

Paul Drake

Frank Ruscell

Two plain-clothesmen

A Drake operative

Lieutenant Tragg

Cab driver

Jules Carne Homan

Crew from homicide

Adironcack elevator operator

L C Spinney

Adler Pace Greeley

Adirondack doorman

Lois Warfield

Colored maid

Tangerine waiter

Mr Kimball

Daphne Greeley

Miss Carlyle

Felipe, the Filipino boy

Judge Cortright

Tangerine busboy

Horace Homan

Various court people


Stephane Claire Olger and Emily Carr are discussing the crudeness of the boss, who has just fired Stephane for knocking-down on tips, from which he actually stole the missing money.


Stephane's first driver drops her off at Bakersfield. The driver who picks her up is a speeder and drinker. She stands him off until he gets insistent, grabs her. The car goes out of control into the leftmost lane of the three-lane highway, and there is a crash.


Stephane Claire has blacked out, goes in and out of consciousness. Remembers being pulled from the driver's side of a car. A man says "Take it easy and a nurse says "Don't fight . . . Breathe deeply."


Horty, Hortense Zitkousky, tries to help her friend back to consciousness. Stephane has been in a major car crash and Horty doesn't believe her story about being with a man, because the car was stolen from a big shot in Hollywood.


Della Street tries to turn Horty away but falls for her story and gets Perry Mason to see her. Mason sends her to Paul Drake, then tells Paul to report to him.


The D A's office is sure Claire is guilty of manslaughter. The car was owned by Jules Carne Homan, who will owe ten thousand dollars if the car was being driven with his permission, zero if not. The car driver was wearing a tuxedo and car thieves don't wear tuxedos. Drake had a man impersonate Homan's butler at the telephone office. He found that there were calls from Homan to San Francisco and collect calls back, from L C Spinney. No one has seen more than a glimpse of Spinney, though he's been noticed in evening clothes. His operative got a letter to Spinney, which had fifteen dollars in it. It was from Lois Warfield. She is in New Orleans, where she was told her husband was in jail. Della brings in a copy of a telegram from Drake's office, which says Lois is going to hitchhike to Los Angeles where she has a job. Mason calls Mr Kimball, who has offered the job, and is told he's withdrawn the offer. Mason tells Drake that he has an opening for a receptionist and to have his New Orleans operative get Warfield to come to Los Angeles. He then tells Drake to get a photo of Homan from Photoplay magazine..


Mason and Drake meet Warfield at the bus station and take her to dinner. She fails to identify Homan as her husband. The force her to admit her husband is a convict, but find a way to sympathize with her. Mason has her put up in a hotel. He explains to Drake why Homan has to be her husband.


Mason interrupts Jules Homan, who sees everything in terms of a scenario. Mason suggests he should be dollar wise instead of penny foolish, brings up the name of Spinney, and a woman from New Orleans, to which Homan doesn't even blink. Mason waits long enough on the way out to note from clicks on the radio that Homan is making a phone call. He meets Horace Homan at the door, but learns nothing from him.


Max Olger and Jackson Sterne are trying to get permission to see Stephane from a woman at the cashier's desk. The woman, an office nurse, sees Mason and says he can go in. Another nurse informs him the rooms been changed. Stephane has only a bit of time to tell Mason about her uncle and boyfriend before Max arrives and calls his attorney, Alexander Pitcairn, before he accepts Mason. She relates the events leading to the accident, but nothing helps Mason, though the keys to the car might. Jacks arrives; Stephane doesn't think much of her uncle's choice for her. Drake reports that Warfield is in her room, after trying to get back issues of Photoplay. He got operatives on site within a half hour.


Mason checks Homan's bio; meteoric rise from writer to producer in about two years. Della shows how Warfield used her compact to read the back of the photo and see it was stamped "Photoplay Magazine." He, Drake and Street go to Warfield's hotel. Drake's operative indicates she hasn't gone out. The Gateview manager sends Mason up with a bellboy. The room is empty and hasn't been used. Mason has Della pay the bill, while the manager indicates it is rather strange, since Warfield had a bag and hat box and neither are in the room yet she didn't go out through the only public exit, the lobby.


On the phone, Frank Ruscell of the D A's office forces Mason to a preliminary for Friday at ten. Mason awakes to the answer of Warfield's disappearance, she never left the hotel but went into another room. Drake checks with his operative and finds someone did check in just after they took Warfield to the Gateview.


Mason gets Tragg to go with him to the Gateview. The two plus Drake enter the room, find a dead man Tragg gets the homicide crew to come and has Claire brought to identify the man. Yes, he's the one in the car. In the lobby, Jacks Sterne approaches Mason, who had sent him there, but Mason tells him to scram quickly. Tragg is angered that Mason finds too many bodies. Mason answers Tragg's questions, but doesn't volunteer answers. Tragg, trying to get the name Mason mentioned to him earlier, mentions an Adler Greeley, before Mason admits to recognizing the name of Spinney. Mason keeps insisting it all ties in to Jules Homan, a man Tragg doesn't want to touch. After further questioning, Tragg puts out a dragnet for Warfield.


A colored maid answers Mason's bell and escorts him to Daphne Greeley. Yes, her husband does work for Homan on occasion and, yes, he does go to San Francisco, taking the car to the airport and flying, or taking the train. She can't believe he was driving back from San Francisco, but a call from Tragg lets her know of his death.


Judge Cortright dispenses justice until Mason's case comes up. Harold Hanley calls as his first witness traffic officer Frank Corvis. He testifies to finding the car on its left side, the right side window opened fully. Other witnesses testify to a number of items and Edith Lions comes on the stand. She was in the right side of a car that the accident car passed, saw a woman driving the accident car and a man about thirty with her. Mason attacks the details, having the court reporter read back earlier testimony to show that she is now saying something different. Her testimony is made suspect by Mason's cross-examination. A short recess during which the judge handles a problem for a Mr Smith and Mason outlines his strategy to Stephane. On the stand, she tells her story. For rebuttal, Hanley calls Daphne Greeley. She says she identified the body of her husband, which Stephane had identified as the driver of the car. Adler had told his secretary Irma Watkins that, on the day in question, he wasn't to be bothered as it was an anniversary. As usual, business intervened and he went to San Francisco in a double-breasted gray suit. He returned early the next morning. She had talked with him at 5:17 the afternoon when he was at the Southern Pacific Depot in San Francisco. He was not injured, nor wearing a tuxedo when he returned. The papers she procured for her husband to give information over the phone related to business with Jules Homan's business. Homan is next. He has had business with Greeley, but not on the day in question. He discovered his car was gone at four in the afternoon. He did not make any calls to San Francisco and would like to know if Mason can prove someone else used his phone. He suspects Earnest A Tanner, his chauffeur. He doesn't know any L C Spinney. Yes, there are phones all over the house. Judge Cortright orders an adjournment until ten tomorrow, and Homan says he can't come then but the judge orders him to be there.


Tanner tries to confront Homan, but Horty deters him, and they go dining and dancing after Homan leaves, escorted by two plain-clothesmen. Tanner confides that the car was driven 732 miles from the morning of the 18th and the night of the 19th.


Della and Paul try to worm a meal out of Perry as they discuss the case. Della has a friend - woman agent - who can get the lowdown on Homan. Mason tried to tip Tragg on Homan. Homan would have made a phone call and one by one other calls would follow to get Homan off the hook, but it didn't happen. Tragg arrives. He's found a keyring in Stephane's bag, with three keys, one to the car ignition, the second to Homan's yacht, the third unidentified. Mason has Drake tell him about the Warfield woman. Tragg is now willing to admit Stephane is probably off the hook. Mason then tells him about the 732 mile odometer. Also, the man must have been wearing the tuxedo for more than a day, because there was no time for him to change and he'd have had to leave San Francisco before anything he'd need a tuxedo that evening. This gives Tragg ways to trace Greeley. Mrs Greeley phones and Tragg listens; she's found her husband's shirt with red lipstick stain, and his tuxedo. Tragg leaves. Horty calls, demands that Mason come to Stephane's room. He takes a cab, whose driver waits for him. There he finds Tanner, hanging dead. He sends Horty home, fast, then in rain a doorman helps him to his cab.


Mason's alibi doesn't sound real to Drake. Mrs Greeley arrives, feeling how cruel death is. Mason philosophizes on life and death and she relaxes. Tragg returns and Mrs Greeley brings out the shirt with the lipstick smear, and a spotless tuxedo. She still thinks her husband wasn't driving the car. Tragg gets a call. A man wearing a tuxedo, identified as L C Spinney, flew from San Francisco to Fresno early Wednesday morning; the man's description fits Greeley. Della returns and they all go out for steak at the Tangerine. Tragg gets another call. Spinney (aka Greeley) picked up a car in Fresno, drove it 165 miles. Mason suggests he got a driver with car to drive him 82 miles into the mountains. Della reports that Homan's rise is due to a woman, unknown. He jumps into a car, alone, to get away from it all. A busboy calls Tragg to the phone and he returns as the waiter is serving the cocktails. Tragg has learned the Spinney did drive 82 miles up into the mountains, then sent the driver back. Tragg also learned that Tanners has been murdered. And Mason was at the Adirondack hotel for twelve minutes, according to the cabbie who drove him there.


Tragg knows Mason was there because a loose feather from the pillow held to Tanner's head stuck to Mason's shoe. Street teases Tragg, who then suggests Mason is protecting her. Mason and Tragg spar; Tragg leaves. Mason makes two phone call to force Tragg into follow-up, one to Homan via Felipe, the next to Miss Carlyle, the restaurant friend of Warfield. Tragg calls Mason. The elevator operator at the Adirondack has identified Mason, with a woman. Mason says only that she must be his client. Tragg notes that the laundry mark on the lipsticked shirt is not Greeley's, so he thinks it is a plant.


Mason continues his cross-examination of Homan. He presents the lipstick-stained shirt to Homan; it has the same watermark as the shirt he is wearing. Mason then asks about the three keys; two match what is on Homan's chain. Homan finally admits he must have left them in the glove compartment of his car, but doesn't identify the third. Tragg expects Mason to continue, but the attorney is finished. Hanley is afraid of the political pressure if he continues the questioning. Homan insists he was working at home the night of the accident. Hanley offers to cooperate with Mason, given that they'd expected him to pursue the identification of the third key. Cortright orders Homan to return Monday. Hanley admits that Mason's client has a perfect alibi for the second murder. Homan is indignant at Mason's prying into his private affairs, but agrees to Tragg's request that he write down all to whom he talked Wednesday afternoon. Mrs Greeley shows interest in finding what the connection may have been between Greeley and Homan. Mason asks her for correspondence between Greeley and Warfield. Mason asserts that she didn't leave the Gateview Hotel that night, and he wants to investigate this aspect of the case.


Mason is waiting at the Gateview for a visitor, when Mrs Greeley surprises him. When Mason grabs her wrist, she half screams and a gun drops to the floor. She claims that she heard someone in the hall, but noone is there. Mason warns her that a gun won't protect her, and she's ruined everything. He orders her to go immediately to a doctor for sedation. Then Tragg arrives and Mason explains that Warfield never left the hotel, but spent the night in yet another room. She thought the picture Mason showed her was of Spinney, but when she got back to her room after trying to find a copy of Photoplay, her real husband, Greeley, was waiting for her. He takes her down to his room. He tries to plead he made a mistake, gets shot instead. She goes back to her room where she is found by Mrs Greeley. Next morning she walks out. Mrs Greeley is in love with Homan. Greeley wanted to hook Homan for lots of money for alienation of affections. That would explanation against her. Instead, he did the hitchhiking. Tragg remembers that Mrs Greeley talked with her husband in San Francisco; Mason says she said she did. Greeley had detectives watching Warfield so he was able to see her arrive at the bus station and follow her to the hotel. Mrs Greeley followed him. Mrs Greeley wanted to prove Stephane's story to save Homan, so she grabbed the first shirt out of the laundry and smeared lipstick on it. Where is Mrs Warfield? Probably on Homan's yacht. Tragg discovers Mrs Greeley's gun, a small caliber automatic such as killed Tanner. Tragg puts out a dragnet on Mrs Greeley.


Della tells Perry that they've found her, still in the Gateview. Mason says that she didn't have to do it. If she'd only talked with Mrs Warfield before going to see her husband! She was madly in love with Homan. Mason says he deviated on a few bits of information to Tragg. Mrs Greeley probably killed her husband, then talked with Warfield and figured she could pin the murder on her. Stephane will now probably leave Jacks for Jules. Tragg calls and Mason admits that when he discovered the feather on his foot it became clear that Mrs Greeley had not telephoned from home, which was her alibi, but from the Adirondack or nearby, with the (second) murder already committed.

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Nineteenth Perry Mason Novel, © 1941;

The Case of the Empty Tin

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Florence Gentrie

Elston A Karr


Rebecca Gentrie

Johns Blaine

Man in middle fifties


Lieutenant Tragg

Taxi driver

Arthur Gentrie

Sarah Perlin

Chronicle ad taker

Arthur Gentrie, Junior

Paul Drake

Sawdey's neighbor

Delman Steele

[Ethel Prentice]

San Francisco Radio Officer

Mephisto, the cat

Detective Texman

Trolley motorman

Robindale E Hocksley

Drake's switchboard girl

Lorcarno's Grill headwaiter

Opal Sunley

Doris Wickford

[K Anamata]

Perry Mason


Headquarters Officer

Della Street

Car with Driver



Information desk girl

Four Los Angeles Radio Offiers

Rodney Wenston

Elevator Attendant

Gow Loong

Dr L O Sawdey

Gardner is still using "swell" at every opportunity.


Mrs Arthur (Florence) Gentrie is managing her household while Rebecca Gentrie is doing the crossword puzzle. Hester is ironing the laundry. Florence goes in to Junior's room to get a flashlight, then to the cellar to check her preserves. Some 1939 remain unused while 1940 have been used, and there is an empty tin. Rebecca has noticed the Delman Steele, who rents the available outside-entry room, draws badly for an architect. He's made complete floor plans of their house which is on a slope, allowing a two-car garage to be cut out of the basement, one rented to Robindale E Hocksley, whose secretary, Opal Sunley, pays the bill, and gets looks from Junior.


Florence is awakened by noises, but Arthur just rolls over and snores. She hears a noise like a gunshot, then something falling down. She wakens Arthur, and he insists that it is Junior coming home. She insists and he goes downstairs while she looks in Junior's room; he is not there. Arthur reports the wind shut the cellar door that he'd left open. In the morning, Junior is there.


Perry Mason was up late working on the Consolidated case, so surprises Della Street by being back at the office early. Gertie admits a Rodney Wenston after Mason is told that there was a shooting downstairs from his father's apartment. The telephone rings and it is Elston A Karr, Wenston's stepfather. He insists Mason come quickly. He and Street go to the house next the Gentrie's and are met by Gow Loong who takes them to wheelchaired Karr and his sort-of nurse, Johns Blaine. Karr tells his story. He was running guns up the Yangtze and, as far as anyone knows, he'd dead. He keeps the apartment in the name of his stepson, Rodney Wenston. He needs to remain out of the public eye for there are people hunting him and wants Mason to keep him hidden. Karr has no idea what happened downstairs, only knows the guy works at night with a dictating machine. Gow Loong and Johns Blaine came in after the murder. When Tragg arrives, Mason throws him off by suggesting that there were two shots. Both Hocksley and his housekeeper are missing. Tragg questions Karr's bad legs; arthritis. When Tragg leaves, Mason points out to Karr that he's a prime suspect. Karr asks about surviving partnership law and doesn't like any of the answers he gets. Karr hires Mason to clear up the murder, no matter who it involves.


Mason drops in on the Gentries, Florence, Rebecca, Junior and Delman Steele. As the family argue over a missing flashlight and such, the empty tin comes front and center. Arthur has used it for a paint tine, and hidden the real top, which Mason finds, with a coded message in it. Further, the wet paint has an imprinted hand print. Junior claims to have been in at the time of the murder and refuses to admit he was with Opal Sunley.


Perry tells Della that Tragg will be interested in Karr's legs. Drake says Tragg is running in circles. There's nothing in the house and nothing but a little cash and postage stamps in the safe. The shooting took place in the safe room; perhaps Hocklsey caught the housekeeper. The police found fingerprints in paint in the garage next door and on Hocksley's desk telephone. Opal Sunley has admitted to being with Junior.


Florence brings Arthur Junior to Mason. Even after Mason warns Arthur of the folly of lying and how it might involve Opal, he refuses to admit that he was not already in his room when the gun shot was heard. Mason confides to Street the problem; the message was between two persons who didn't have access to each other. Only one person got the message, Arthur the father.


Della has the code figured out, but it leads to a second code, which identifies the page, column and entry in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 5th edition. "Coast clear after midnight, but lift telephone receiver before touching." Drake reports the fingerprints are of Arthur Junior.


Mason is awakened by Drake with someone claiming to be Sarah Perlin on the phone. She calls Mason, wants to confess, but he has to come to her. When he does, he finds a dark house. When a light comes on, he enters and finds Opal Sunley, gun in hand, and Sarah Perlin dead in a bedroom. Her story parallels Mason's. They leave the place for Drake to find the body.


Drake complains to Mason about being left to hold the bag, and Perry feigns ignorance. Drake said he didn't know the time of the murder so did a bad job of covering for Mason.


Perry tells Della about the one o'clock phone call and his failed attempt at a nightspot to get Opal Sunley tight. Opal has a boyfriend who doesn't know about Junior, and she strings Junior along hoping to find a girl his age she can push on to him. She drives Ethel Prentice's car. Mason reads Karr's newspaper ad which calls for the heir to his China partner's business to contact him. Perry suggests to Della that they send a message to the murder via a tin can; "Lawyer Mason has fingerprint photograph his wallet fatal unless recovered" and last word changed to "recovery made" since the dictionary wouldn't have past tense listed. Then he wonders why a message couldn't be communicated instead by telephone; because one person is deaf or doesn't have a phone handy, the latter implicating Karr.


Tragg visits the Gentries to ask if Junior is truthful. Rebecca helps Tragg, who points out that Junior's fingerprints are on Hocksley's telephone. Hester finds another tin can in the cellar, and Tragg phones the code downtown to Detective Texman.


Della pulls Perry past the switchboard girl in Paul's office and find that Rodney Wenston has a Doris Wickford with him, claiming to be the girl in Karr's ad. Drake reports that a hobo has seen Karr walk, from car to plane. Mason reports he's placed the fake tin. The group interview Wickford, and she seems to be the real thing.


Loong, Blaine, Wenston, Wickford and Mason join Karr. They compare photos that Karr has with the one of Wickford and her father and seem to confirm her claim. Gow Loong is also in those photos with Wickford's father and Karr and a fourth man. Then Tragg arrives and, in due time, it turns out the fourth man was named Robindale E Hocksley and Wickford knows the name. Blaine gets edgy; he's a private detective and doesn't want to lose his license. Tragg points out the telephone as an alarm device (which Mason had figured out earlier), deactivated by someone lifting it. Karr then remembers hearing a buzzing outside his window, which would have been the alarm, the night of the murder. Tragg confides to Mason he's going to arrest Junior for murder. "Whose murder?" is Mason's response.


Perry and Della fly to San Francisco and await a plane in a car with driver. A plane arrives, an ambulance pulls, drives away with Mason following. At a hospital, Mason speaks to the information desk girl, locates the recent arrival as Dr L O Sawdey's patient. Mason gives the elevator attendant the floor. A nurse goes in 304, then a man in his middle fifties. When they leave, Mason and Street enter, find Karr sedated.


Perry and Della take a taxi to the Chronicle newspaper office, look at ads, find an article about Carr Luceman getting shot in the leg. They take their cab to Dr Sawdey's house, but the doctor only says his patient will need rest and can't be questioned. While waiting for Sawdey to leave, Della acts the moll and is noticed by a neighbor. Mason sneaks into the house. Before he can leave, Della gives the signal of an arriving car. A radio car officer finds them there and they brazen it out; she's selling newspaper subscriptions, he's the brother of Lt Tragg in Los Angeles. The officer leaves to hunt for the moll and her accomplice. Mason searches the place and finds Delman Steele dead.


They leave Dr Sawdey's, take a trolley downtown to Locarno's Grill.


When Mason and Street arrive at Drake's office, they're told that Arthur Junior has been arrested. Drake reports on the movements of others. Delman Steele only hangs around an architect's office, but is no architect. Mason tells Drake that Karr is arthritic in his legs, but also has been shot in the leg, and is also Hocksley! It is Steele who has been getting the messages in the tin, because he is not permitted to use the phone! Drake asks why he was killed (Mason has not told him this; a rare slip-up by ESG). Mason has no answer, but knows that neither Karr or Wenston did it. Perlin was dead, so Steele wouldn't have opened the tin if she were the sender. Mason goes to see Mrs Gentrie, and discovers Steele's room empty and the inside door hinges well-oiled, so he could easily sneak into the house, down to the cellar and over to the neighbor's house. He's apparently hired by Japanese to spy on Hocksley. In the cellar they note the tin can hasn't been touched. They find the side door unlatched, though Mrs Gentrie insists that it was latched in the morning.


Mrs Gentrie confesses over the phone. Mason gets a man at headquarters, then Tragg. He rushes to the garage where his garageman has his car waiting, and he goes to Gentrie's, arriving just as Tragg does. The find four radio officers holding the family in tow. Mason first accuses Florence of planning suicide, then of planning to kill him. Tragg disrupted his plan because the person who was to receive the message he'd left was present when Tragg opened the can, Mrs Guthrie. Mason knew Florence was the murder because only Paul, Della, and the one who claimed to be Sarah Perlin had his private number. On the phone, Mason played drunk from the Wenston to Wickford wedding. Mason suggests the police release all but Florence, hurries out of the house, Tragg following, protesting. Mason now takes Tragg into his confidence. They watch as a figure comes out of the cellar door, crosses to the adjacent house. They follow and hear a phone conversation. The caller berates Wenston for marrying Wickford who, of course, denies it. She says Mason said so. She states "I've taken care of the others for you. You've got to do this for me." Tragg's flashlight reveals Rebecca.


Perry and Della are driving back to the office, with Mason intent upon them getting lost so they can go to the beach, leaving Gertie to run the office. Mason asks Della to read Rebecca's confession. Rebecca has fallen in love with Wenston, who said he had a scheme by which he could get money and they could marry. She'd shown him how easily she could substitute one face for another in a photo if she had the negatives. The negative she needed was in the safe (Rodney had gotten the combination while Karr was sound asleep) and she was caught by Karr opening it and shot him. Since Rodney lisped, he couldn't call her or he'd be recognized, and she couldn't get to the phone with the kids always using it, so they communicated by the tin can. When she shot Karr, Junior came over having heard the shot, and she almost got caught. He phoned Sunley, thinking it might have been her that fired the shot. When he left, she got the negative out of the safe, then nearly got caught by Perlin who, in the dark, ripped off a bit of her dress. Since she'd have eventually recognized who it belonged to, she went to her to bargain, and Perlin pulled a gun which went off in the ensuing struggle. She decided to frame her sister-in-law, whom she hated. She called Mason and pretended to be Florence. She was then going to go to Florence and get her to the phone, shoot her, put the gun in her hand to complete the suicide, but Mason played drunk so wouldn't have remembered that she, as Florence, was going to commit suicide. Mason notes that this is enough for Tragg, and then says that Gow Loong tipped him off to the faked photo, which showed Tucker's face identically in two photos, so, without knowing anything about photography, he was still suspicious. The two continue to the beach.

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Twentieth Perry Mason Novel, © 1942;

The Case of the Drowning Duck

Click HERE to go to the TV Episode

Della Street

Allgood's blonde receptionist, aka . . .

[Gridley P Lahey]

Perry Mason

Raymond E Allgood

Unobtrusive headquarters man

John L Witherspoon

Leslie L Milter

Elevator starter at Mason's

Marvin Adams

Alberta Cromwell

Drake's Switchboard Operator

Lois Witherspoon

Ruth, Drake's stenographer

[Corine Hassen, Miss X]

[Sarah Adams]


Burr's nurse, Miss Field

[Horace Legg Adams]

Drake's El Templo operative

Doctor Rankin

[David Latwell]

Police officer James Haggerty

Justice Meehan

Paul Drake

Apartment manager

Lawrence Dormer

Roland Burr

Fireman in gas mask

Various witnesses & spectators

Diana Burr

[County] Doctor

Templo District Attorney Copeland

Mexican servants*

Deputy sheriff


George L Dangerfield

Studious-looking young man


Estelle Dangerfield


Night watchman

. . . aka Sally Elberton

* vaquero, butler and the like

One doesn't ordinarily think of Erle Stanley Gardner as a humorous, but Chapter I0 is very funny;. Imagine being cross examined about a duck, or worse yet, a drowning duck. Can ducks drown?

Mason is still a smoker, and still puts his hands in the arm holes of his vest when thinking, and "swell" is still in common use.

Don't look for Winterburg City on your map, it isn't there. Winterhaven is, and it is a dozen miles west of Yuma, which is still a long hop from Palm Springs, or the equally fictitious El Templo.


Perry Mason is lounging in Palm Springs with his secretary, Della Street, when John L Witherspoon approaches with a problem. His daughter's boyfriend, Marvin Adams, has an unknown background. Daughter Lois pops up unnoticed till then at a nearby seat to tell the story of Marvin's being kidnapped.


Marvin was kidnapped by Sarah and Horace Adams of Winterburg City, both now dead, explains Lois. After she's gone, Witherspoon says it was not so, because the birth certificate of Marvin to Horace and Sarah is registered. Horace was convicted of murder, and Sarah's deathbed declaration that Marvin was kidnapped was just to keep Marvin from ever knowing the truth. Witherspoon expects the son has inherited his father's murderous traits. He'll do whatever it takes to insure his daughter's happiness.


Della has gotten horses for a ride, and Mason discusses the brief of the trial where Horace was convicted. The defense lawyer didn't conduct a consistent defense and also suggested insanity, which undercut his case. Horace as a child was cruel to animals which, Mason notes, is typical of youth. Mason cannot prove innocent, but cannot disprove guilt either. David Latwell's guilt is laid on Horace Adams, his partner, due only to circumstantial evidence. Once again Witherspoon threatens everything short of murder to protect his daughter. Perry asks Della to get Paul to join them. Lois and Marvin arrive and Witherspoon leaves. The daughter gets Marvin to tell how he drowned a duck in a science class run by Roland Burr.


Witherspoon shows Mason and Street his acres of El Templo house with Mexican servants. Drake arrives as does a Mexican butler with drinks. After Drake is apprised of the background he reports seeing Mrs Burr kissing Witherspoon, he then meets Lois and Marvin.


The group are at dinner when Mr Dangerfield arrives with the news that his wife, Estelle, the former wife of David Latwell, has gotten interested in the reopening of the murder of her husband. He's traced the situation here and hopes they can derail Estelle's search for the detectives investigating the case. Witherspoon has the night watchman hold the dogs as Dangerfield leaves. Mason informs Witherspoon that he's working not for him but for a blind lady, Justice, and leaves to pack.


Allgood Detective Agency's receptionist, a stunning blonde, greets Mason, ushers him in to Raymond E Allgood almost immediately. Mason tells Allgood there's been a leak and he wants it stopped. Leslie Milter, who was doing Witherspoon's investigative work, apparently reported directly to the client rather than Allgood, his manager. Allgood thinks maybe he can apply pressure through Milter's wife, Alberta Cromwell. Mason phones Drake to put shadows on the blonde and Milter, then dictates to Ruth, the stenographer, a fake newspaper report for the Winterburg papers, where the murder happened. It suggests that Milter has reopened the case.


A special delivery letter arrives with a clipping from a Hollywood scandal sheet regarding a headstrong daughter and prospective son-in-law, and a drowning duck. Mason has Street phone Drake to look for the Miss X, the biggest single blunder of the defense lawyer who stipulated her name need not be mentioned. Adams had told the police that Latwell was going to run away with Miss X, but the stipulation made everyone believe that was a lie. Drake reports Milter is in El Templo. Alberta Cromwell, claiming to be his wife, has the apartment next to his. Allgood's blonde is headed to El Templo.


Manuel holds the dogs so Mason can enter Witherspoon's. Mason confronts Witherspoon with the possibility he's being blackmailed. Witherspoon says Marvin's gone out with a duck he wants to drown. He drove away in a car of a friend. Witherspoon admits that Lois has money, fifty thousand dollars, so maybe she's being blackmailed. Witherspoon, who seems ready to threaten anyone with everything short of murder (maybe even that) threatens the blackmailer.


Mason gets a flat tire. A car speeds by. No one answers at Milter's, Mason meets Cromwell, who acts not as wife but as neighbor. Mason gets Drake's report via Street; the blonde went to Milter's and wasn't there very long, surprising Drake's operative. Mason drives to the train station and sees the blonde getting on the train, with tear-stained face. He drives back to Milter's, behind a police car. Officer Haggerty gets the manager to let them in. On the way in Haggerty notices a duck having trouble surviving in a goldfish bowl. Mason finds a way to dump the water that has detergent in it, and replace it with clean water in which the duck revives. Milter is dead, cyanide poisoning, requiring a fireman in gas mask to get him out of the gas-filled kitchen, whereupon a doctor pronounces him dead. Mason has a deputy sheriff call Allgood regarding Milter and Allgood gives him no pertinent information. Mason leaves his flat at a service station and goes to Marvin's friends place. A studious-looking young man answers, lets Mason look at Marvin's room, then the car. Mason retrieves his tire; the valve cap had worked loose.


Lois and servant Pedro let Mason by the dogs. Lois doesn't recognize the name of Leslie L Milter. Mason has Lois get another duckling and take it to the car Marvin was driving. Witherspoon returns home, knowing about Milter's death. He identified the duck for the police. Mason then, step by step, demolishes the idea of identifying one duck from another, even a drowning duck. Mason warns Witherspoon that he might defend Marvin. It was probably Witherspoon that shot past Mason while the latter was changing the tire. Witherspoon drive around for a half hour before going to Milter's. Mrs and Mr Burr are sleeping in separate rooms since the horse injury incapacitated Mr.


Della and Perry leave Witherspoon's in a hurry, go to the train station, where Mason finds Cromwell. He tries to find out what she knows about the murder, but ends up reconstructing the situation for her.


Now Mason chases the train, boarding it at the junction where it awaits hookup with a mainline engine. He finds the blond, Sally Elberton, having breakfast, and asks her if Milter was live or dead when she called on him. Her stiff dead pan reaction was all he needed. Then he finds Marvin just getting out of bed. Mason learns that Marvin is headed to Los Angeles because he's received an offer from a Gridley P Lahey to show him how to drown a duck. Mason learns how, then takes Gridley's letter, gives Marvin the offered hundred dollars, warns him to say nothing of the duck. When they get off the train, an unobtrusive man from headquarters picks up Marvin.


Della has driven the car to the station and is waiting, but she can't get much out of Mason, except that he expects Gridley P Lahey is fictitious. At his office building the elevator starter says Drake is in his office, so Mason asks the switchboard girl to send him over. Drake has discovered Miss X, a Corine Hassen. Mason has Drake get on her tail, then thinks that it may be the Burrs who are pressuring Witherspoon.


Mrs Dangerfield arrives at Mason's office, having learned of Mason's involvement in the Latwell murder. She was the wife of David Latwell when he was murdered! She knows David and Horace had a fight the day of the murder and now thinks it may have been self-defense. She doesn't want Marvin's life to be ruined. She is surprised to hear that Milter has been murdered.


Mrs Dangerfield rushes out to call her husband privately. Mason phones El Templo and gets the police to tap her phone call. Witherspoon comes on the line. He's been arrested for the murder of Roland Burr, by cyanide, same as Milter. Allgood arrives and Mason catches him with being in on the events, even as publisher of the Hollywood scandal sheet. Mason informs Drake that Diana Burr has a Winterburg City connection, as does everyone connected with the Latwell murder, or so it seems, and asks Drake to see if Roland Burr fits in to this, and if he knew Corine Hassen.


Witherspoon explains how circumstances damn him. Burr's nurse had an argument with Burr. Burr's doctor and the nurse decided a new nurse was needed, so Burr was left alone. Burr had asked Witherspoon for his fishing rod, which he believed had been left in Witherspoon's private, locked study. It wasn't there, but was found with Burr. The Mexican servants have often seen him kissing Diana Burr, which gives him motive for killing her husband. Mason points out how eighteen years earlier circumstances hung Horace Legg Adams. Witherspoon says he'll get a good lawyer and "beat this case hands down."


Lois Witherspoon tells Mason "You can't do that to my dad." Mason informs her of Marvin's dad's conviction and execution, which stuns her. Then he says he can't prove Marvin's father's guilt, or innocence. He warns her that Marvin, being sensitive, might leave her if she reveals the truth about the duck, thus implicating her boyfriend.


The preliminary hearing is in Justice Meehan's court. Lawrence Dormer, the best trial lawyer in the valley at El Templo, is Witherspoon's attorney. George Dangerfield comes to Mason's hotel suite as a subpoenaed witness for the prosecution. He says the D A is going to bring in the old murder case to this one, and have his wife testify that her former husband had a gun the day of that murder.


Mason watches as but one member of the spectator crowd while various witnesses testify to Witherspoon's and Mrs Burr's romantic involvement. Templo District Attorney Copeland attempts to bring in the crime of murder of Leslie L Milter into the case in his interrogation of Police Officer Haggerty, but Dormer objects. The court adjourns for the day. Drake reports that Corine Hassen has been found, nude, dead, in Reno. On the day he was kicked by the horse, Roland Burr went into and out of town several times, getting photographic supplies, doing errands, going to the post office. On one of the trips his wife was not with him. He left a small parcel at the Greyhound station, and that package is gone. Burr also was active in Winterburg City. Mason suggests to Drake that the real question is, if Latwell had intended to run away with Hassen, and she had gone to Reno, what was it that changed these events leading to Latwell's murder. Lois has arrived and now feels that she was planting evidence under Mason's direction. She promises to think over the idea of telling the authorities about the planted duck. Mason suggests she take Marvin over to Yuma and get married.


Perry Mason has joined the defense team. His first act is to withdraw the objection to testimony regarding the murder of Milter, even though this is a murder trial of Roland Burr. This worries the district attorney. On cross, Mason asks about the drowning duck, eliciting roars of laughter from the spectators. When the defendant entered the room, the duck was behaving in a normal manner. Alberta Cromwell testifies to seeing Witherspoon leave the murder apartment. Under Mason's cross-examination, she denies being Milter's common-law wife. Mason traps her; he lets her go much too easily but, as she leaves the witness stand, he stops her, has Allgood stand up, and asks her if she knows him, and then Elberton, and repeats his query about her telling them she was Milter's common-law wife. She is flustered, gives in, tells the whole story. She admits to being in Milter's apartment. He told her that his meeting with Elberton was only for information which would let them get married and live richly. While she was there, Elberton arrived, and she went out the back way and he locked that entry. She waited for his signal to return and, when it didn't come, went to the window, where she saw Witherspoon leave. She went around again to the locked back door, peered through a window and saw smoke and a man's feet, toes turned up. She went back to her apartment and found Mason at Milter's front door. The bailiff brings Copeland a note, which prompts him to call Diana Burr. She testifies to seeing Marvin show how to drown a duck. On cross, Mason gets her to admit she lived in Winterburg City and is thirty-nine years old (a decade older than men had estimated) and that she's heard of Corine Hassen, years ago. The D A wants Mason to ask more about the duck, but Mason says the problem is the district attorney's. So the D A calls Marvin, who says he never met Milter and he showed how to drown a duck but Witherspoon was not among the guests witnessing the experiment. After admitting he is now related to the defendant, as his son-in-law, he is asked if one of the witnesses to his experiment may have told Witherspoon about it. Mason objects and is sustained. He admits to taking a duck on the night of the murder. The D A wants him to state the duck at Milter's is not that same duck. Lois Witherspoon interjects, vociferously and several times, that she is the only one who can answer that question. Mason objects and the court takes its noon adjournment. Mason gets the court to require Copeland to not destroy the note given him by the bailiff. He notes that none of the following could have written the note; defendant, Mrs Burr, Lois, Marvin. Someone who knew about the duck experiment did. Noon adjournment. Drake reports that Gridley P Lahey is fictitious. Burr's nurse, Miss Field, tells Mason there is no way Burr could have gotten out of bed. Her stumbling over the bag he had next his bed, and suggesting she empty it and put its contents in plain sight so she could retrieve what he needed, was his reason for firing her. He even tried to club her with a piece of metal tubing. When she telephoned Dr Rankin, he came out without a replacement.


In chambers, Mason explains all the complications. Milter was a blackmailer and his common-law wife was about to make a clean-up. He expected to get his money the night he was murdered. He knew something bigger than Allgood's penny-ante info, namely who the real murderer of Latwell was. Mason continues; Burr had been in Winterburg City at the time of the murder when he was about twenty-seven years old. He was trying to raise cash which he expected to receive the day the horse kicked him. He knew Corine Hassen. He was being blackmailed. Latwell's widow, now Mrs Dangerfield, was his accomplice. The accomplice decided it was easier to kill the blackmailer than pay him off, if they could find a fall guy. Marvin was their choice, because they could plant a drowning duck. Witherspoon walked into it accidentally. They knew Marvin was taking a duck from the ranch because they sent him the Gridley letter. That evening, Mrs Dangerfield went to Milter and, as he was mixing drinks to celebrate her agreement to pay, she slipped the cyanide into the acid, walked out on the way to the bathroom, shutting the door. Milter keeled over, but now Elberton was coming up the stairs. Estelle disrobed. Elberton saw her, turned around and left the double-crossing Milter. Then she pulled the same thing on Witherspoon, and Cromwell saw him leaving but didn't see her. She then met Mason, and the two left, giving Estelle her opportunity to escape. As to Burr's murder, it was suicide, made to implicate Witherspoon whom his wife was going to choose as her next husband. He knew that his wife now knew he'd murdered Latwell and was being blackmailed, and he couldn't kill her lying bound in bed. So he intended to get revenge.


Perry tells Della that they found the detergent and other evidence implicating Estelle Dangerfield. A few of her fingerprints were in Milter's apartment; a nude woman cannot keep from leaving a few around! Della, once again, tries to get her boss to take a vacation. He tells her to phone Gertie that he'll be back in the office only when she gets him a good murder case.

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