The Perry Mason novels of Erle Stanley Gardner

PART FOUR; THE FOURTH TEN NOVELS (31 - 40) and two novelettes

This and related pages 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;

Lonely Heiress

Negligent Nymph

Vagabond Virgin

One-eyed Witness

Dubious Bridegroom

Fiery Fingers

Crying Swallow

Angry Mourner

Crimson Kiss

Moth-eaten Mink

Cautious Coquette

Grinning Gorilla

Thirty-first Perry Mason Novel, © 1948;

The Case of the Lonely Heiress

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Perry Mason

[Two typists]

Lieutenant Tragg

Della Street


Sergeant Holcomb

Robert Caddo

Another candidate

Joe & other third-degree policemen

Paul Drake

Mason's office building night janitor

Woman witness

Drake's operative "I B Green"

Marlow's woman friend

Deputy sheriff

aka Kenneth Barstow

Mrs Dolores Caddo


MM, aka Marilyn Marlow

Police Driver of car 91

Radio officer

Travel-weary woman

[Police photographer]

Jack, his partner

Her four-year-old boy

Policeman in hall

Judge Osborn

Her husband (a Drake operative)

Ralph Endicott

James Hanover

Rose Keeling

Lorraine Endicott Parsons

Dr Thomas C Hiller

Ethel Furlong

Palmer Endicott

Stewart Alvin.


Paddington C Niles

Paul Drake is introduced without the long description of his droopy, hang-dog looks which disguise the fact he's a detective.

How often have you slammed down the telephone in anger? When not in anger, you hang up. Erle Stanley Gardner thinks that when it is the person at the other end of the line, they slam up. Read chapter 8.

Here is where Mason switches to Bacardi cocktails.


Mason takes an oblong business card from Della Street. "LONELY LOVERS PUBLICATIONS, INC." is on Robert Caddo's card. Della also hands Perry "a copy of a cheaply printed magazine entitled Lonely Hearts Are Calling." Della explains how, using a form on the back page, readers can send a message to the classified ads. They look at a typical ad, then at an article. Mr Caddo comes in, explains the method of circulation. He admits to having written all the articles in the current issue, which will remain in circulation until it sells out or the ads lose their effect at drawing mail. His concern is Ad 96 from a twenty-three-year-old heiress. Authorities want him to withdraw the issue, which is too costly, or prove the ad is genuine, which he cannot do. Profits come because for every letter submitted in answer to an ad, someone has had to buy the magazine at 25¢. He's tried to find out who Ad 96 is, but she refuses. He's written blindly to her several letters, and she answers none. Mason says it would be cheaper to recall the magazine, but Caddo says this would be an admission of guilt. Mason takes $500 and a handful of back pages from Caddo. After Caddo leaves, Perry reads out loud part of another story to Della.


Mason is still reading articles from the magazine when he abruptly announces he's "about to compose a love letter." Perry analyzes the situation for Della. Caddo's letters brought no response because each emphasized that he wasn't interested in her money. Yet "She took particular pains to mention that she was an heiress." So anyone who said he was not interested because she was an heiress was branded as "being a damn hypocrite." He dictates a short letter beginning "I am a poor young man . . ." which is signed by a Mr Black. Another letter starts "An heiress, Gee!" and notes he can handle farm work. Signed, Irvin B Green (I B Green). He will hand write it, and have Paul Drake write the other.


Paul Drake gives his code knock* and joins Mason and Street. Mr Green has a response from MM, to meet her in the Union Depot at six in the evening. Mason wants the private detective to get an operative who can pass for "a terribly green country kid," "something that no longer exists" because of the "radio, the automobile and the movies." He wants additional operatives to watch the place of assignation in case the woman doesn't make contact, and to follow her when they see her casing "I B Green." *DA dadadada DA DA which, to those in the know, stands for "shave, and a hair-cut, five cents"


"Perry Mason and Della Street entered the big terminal depot, Mason carrying an empty suitcase. . ." He hides behind a newspaper, reading the horse races, while Della surveys the surroundings. She spots a "brunette in a plaid skirt" who eventually joins "I B Green," then leaves the depot with him. Della notes that she is wearing "simple clothes that really cost money." Della is worried that Drake's men aren't following them. The husband of a travel-weary woman with her four-year-old boy returns with an ice-cream cone, then veers over to Mason to give his report directly, that "the contacting operative is with her" so they didn't follow. He states "I guess that's what you want to know, isn't it?" Mason's smile is followed by "That is what Miss Street particularly wanted to know."


Mason receives Caddo, tells him that his heiress is Marilyn Marlow. Her mother, Eleanore Marlow, was a nurse in attendance on George P Endicott who left her most of his estate, about $300,000, which devolved on Marilyn when Eleanore was killed in an automobile accident. Caddo is elated, plans now to reprint the issue since letters are pouring in, a hundred a day. Caddo leaves with Marlow's address. Drake brings in Kenneth Barstow, the agent who met Marlow. He tells of how things went very well, including a little necking, until a phone call at their second meeting, after which he was unceremoniously kicked out. After he leaves it is Della who thinks it was the telephone call, not Barstow's actions, that prompted his dismissal. They check the time of the phone call, and it fits.


Gertie and two typists have gone home when Jackson enters. Mason sends him home, takes Della to the Spanish Quarter for Bacardi cocktails. Then they go to the Union Depot. Another candidate is picked up by Marlow, who ushers him out to a chauffeur-driven car; the chauffeur is Caddo.


Neither is hungry, nor does dancing improve their mood. They return to Mason's office, where the night janitor tells Mason to call Drake first thing. The call brings Drake quickly to Mason's office. Drake then introduces Marilyn Marlow. She tells Mason that he messed things up for her and she wants him to un-mess them. Mason delineates the facts, including that Endicott's mansion and small bequests went to Ralph Endicott, Palmer E Endicott and Lorraine Endicott, who are going to file a contest after probate, even though the will stipulated any contest would invalidate any bequest to them. The problem, explains Marilyn, that Rose Keeling may recant her testimony to the signing. Marilyn wanted a man with whom romantic Rose could fall in love and bare her soul to. She used the magazine to find such a man, having a woman friend pick up her letters, put them in a first-class special delivery envelope and mail them to her. She liked her detective boy a lot .She came to see Mason and when the night janitor said he wasn't in but Paul Drake who ran a detective agency knew how to reach Mason, she put two and two together. She wants to arrange for her and the detective to play tennis with Rose in a foursome; Rose would, of course, try to steal away her boyfriend. Mason advises her to dump Caddo totally and she catches on that it was Caddo who hired Mason to find her. When she learns her detective is Kenneth Barstow, she comments, "Oh, I like that name."


As Mason enters his office, Della warns him that Mrs Caddo is awaiting his arrival. She's a wildcat on a warpath. Della and Perry set up to look busy, and admit her. She knows her husband is a philanderer, knows how to throw a tantrum, give the woman a black-eye, and get her husband back in line. She has his little red notebook, with Marilyn Marlow and Rose Keeling in it. Mason pacifies her, cautions her against going after either woman. When she leaves, Gertie says Caddo is having a fit in the outer office. Mason smears ink and lipstick on his face, then sees Caddo, who has a bigger fit when he hears Dolores has his little red notebook. Gertie giggles as Caddo rushes out. Mason phones Marlow, warns her of Mrs Caddo. She thinks it best to go over and try to get Rose to play tennis. Mason tries to work on a brief, but his interest is elsewhere. He dictates to Della, but a phone call interrupts. Marilyn is at Rose's; she's dead.


Mason and Street arrive at Rose Keeling's four-flat house, and are met by Marlow. Mason first notes the phone has her fingerprints and those of the murderer. Mason notes the phone was off the hook at 11:40 and Marilyn says she found it off the hook. He points out how advantageous it is to her to have Rose dead. She had received a note from Rose denying her first testimony and saying she was out of the room when the will was (supposedly) signed. She had also discussed the situation with Caddo. She saw Rose, asked her to play tennis, returned to her place to get her tennis clothes. When she got back at Rose's, the door was open. She had shopped, and gone to the bank, during her return trip, offering her mother's jewelry as collateral. She talked with Rose at 11:10, was there at 11:25, and got back four or five minutes before she phoned Mason. Marilyn has mislaid her key to the apartment, but it is found. Mason says he'll stick his neck out for her. Mason has Della come with him to survey the bedroom. Cigar ashes in the ashtray. A cigarette left to burn out near the door. The evidence suggests Rose was leaving, not preparing to play tennis. Mason tells her how he'll plan things so she will be home, and his second return to the apartment will be put forth as his first. Mason doesn't tell Marlow to destroy the letter, but let's her know how to do it.


Lt Tragg questions Mason about his activities in the room. Mason says he called Marlow, then Tragg. He came to see Keeling for his client, "to get the general background." Tragg sends Mason and Street to a police car.


Mason tries to whisper to Street, but the police Driver of car 91 stops them. When the policeman sits between them, Perry, noting the officer's boxer-like appearance and therefore likely low IQ, talks to Della in multi-syllable words. The officer calls Tragg, who sends Della to Mason's office, while taking Mason back upstairs. He again questions Mason, goes into the bedroom where a police photographer is at work. A policeman in the hall cautions Mason to not drop his match in the ash tray. Tragg returns, sends Mason away. He calls Gertie, learns Della is on the way to Ethel Furlong's apartment. He overtakes her taxi. They arrive at Furlong's to find a note from the "Driver of Car 91" stating that he had "high marks in forensic debate and was on the college debating team which won the 1929 conference championship." His "physiognomy became badly marred because of a mistaken impression" that he could have been a professional boxer. So he understood his instructions to his secretary, and the police have Furlong in custody.


Mason goes to the Endicott mansion, is met by Ralph Endicott, who ushers him into a room where Lorraine Endicott Parsons and Palmer Endicott are waiting. Mason advises them that Rose Keeling is dead. He wants to know if any of them had been in touch with her recently. Paddington Niles is ushered in and Mason says his detectives suggest Rose Keeling gave one of his clients a check, and he wants to know what for. He notes he could tell Lt Tragg and get the Endicott's names dragged into the newspapers. Mason gives them five minutes to give him answers. As he inches away in his car, Ralph Endicott beckons him back. With the group, Ralph Endicott wants to talk about the will contest, but Mason is only prepared to talk about the murder. So Ralph relates his version, as told him by Rose, of the will, written by Mrs Marlow and submitted to Endicott who signed with his left hand. Both Keeling and Furlong were told that they were promised something in the will. So Rose, who was not in the room at the signing by Endicott, signed as witness. This morning he got a call from Keeling about 7:30, asking him to see her. She told him she'd received a thousand dollars from Mrs Marlow which she was sure came from sale of stolen jewelry. She gave Ralph a check for a thousand dollars, and a carbon copy of a letter she sent Marilyn, which he shows Mason. He was there 8:00 to 8:40. He details the remainder of his morning. At 10:05 he had Keeling's check certified. Then he went to a club until 3:30. His fingerprint, in smeared ink, is on the check. There is an argument, but Ralph submits to a check of the fingerprint. Palmer leaves the room. Mason is offered Scotch and soda. Palmer returns holding a paper, puts it and the ink pad on a table. He then takes a set of prints. The right thumbprint matches that print on the check. Mason then notes the note must have been written with a ball point, the check with regular pen. Mason leaves, drives to a pay phone, leaves a message about the check for Tragg. He calls Marlow; the police are there. In the middle of a sentence Mason hears "a peculiar sound at the other end of the line, then a suppressed exclamation." He continues with information he wants Tragg to hear, then Tragg comes on the line, cannot believe Mason left him a tip. Mason calls his office, gets Gertie, then Della, whom he orders to get out an application for a writ of habeas corpus.


Marlowe is getting the third degree from Sergeant Holcomb and others. She tells part of the story, then a woman is brought in who claims to have seen her "coming out of Rose Keeling's flat." Now Marlow admits to trying to see Keeling. Under more pressure, she admits to finding Keeling dead, and that Mason came there at her suggestion. She realizes how much she's given away, clams up. Newspaper reporters are let in. They snap photos with her jewelry in plain view. Lt Tragg enters, stops the third-degree, takes Marlow to her office, gets her to relax and give up more information, including that she got the note from Keeling, but doesn't have it. A deputy sheriff enters with a writ of habeus corpus and shortly Mason enters, takes her away. She says "It was terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. . . ." She tells how she was treated, and of the photographers. Mason explains police routine. She mentions the witness and Mason tells her she was a stooge.


Della is waiting when Mason returns to his office. He tells her how Marlow broke down and that the police found only his fingerprints on the phone she used. She may not be guilty of murder, but what did she want from Barstow? Mason has Della get Drake. He reports that Ralph Endicott's alibi is watertight. He's contacted Furlong, and she swears Eleanore Marlow was in the room with her and Keeling at the signing. He reports that Caddo sent a suit spotted with ink to the cleaners. The police found a playsuit with blouse ripped open and ink spattered over it in a soiled clothes hamper of Keeling's flat. Mason now surmises Rose must have been killed leaving the bathroom. Drake reports she was blackjacked before being stabbed. The murder was about 12:00, and Mason sets it at the time Della phoned, 11:40. Drake was with the police when they searched the parking lot. Barstow found a cheap cigar half-smoked. Barstow likes good cigars. Marilyn left Rose at 11:35, returned at 12:15. Drake now states that Marilyn asked Barstow to get a key to Rose's, and set her up with a tennis game so she could get in to the apartment to search as only a woman could. They argue about the fingerprints wiped off, or left on, the phone.


Robert Caddo in pajamas and bathrobe admits Mason to his house. Dolores joins them, admits she saw Rose about eleven-thirty. Rose was preparing to play tennis. She ripped the suit, snapped ink all over it. Mason now lets them know Rose was killed about eleven-forty. Dolores thinks Mason wants to pin the murder on her. He threatens to call the police, and she doesn't bite. He reaches Tragg, who comes immediately. She offers drinks for Mason and her husband and argues with her "two-timing buzzard" who wants her to tell Mason everything since she's already admitted to being at Rose's. She gets the drinks, then Tragg and a plainclothesman arrive. Dolores now lies, denying having ever been at Keeling's. She claims she never saw Keeling in her life and Caddo says he's never seen her. Now she reveals she went to see Mason that morning and they played a trick on her husband with ink and lipstick. Tragg is outraged, says he's going to issue a warrant for Mason's client, whom he tells Dolores is Marilyn Marlow. He's found the murder weapon. So Mason sews family discord; Caddo thought he could trade in his wife on the more streamlined model with more money, Marlow. Dolores doesn't bite. As Mason leaves, she offers Tragg some excellent Scotch.


Perry phones Della, then joins her, is offered coffee, crackers and assorted tea biscuits. He tells her Dolores's story, the eleven-thirty meeting, the ink on Keeling's sunsuit, Rose locking herself in the bathroom. When he called Tragg, she lied, and he left them "buying Tragg a drink." Mason figures he has to act quickly, before the murder warrant is issued. He thinks about using Marlow's key to Rose's apartment. Della gets an idea; what if "we can show that she was unpacking? "There should be clues a woman would pick up, which would escape "untutored, male eyes of the blundering cops." Mason says he'll get women on the jury.


Mason circles the blocks around Keeling's flat, looking for a police car, finding none. Perry explains to Della how Tragg will view the crime scene, how he will interpret the clothes in and out of the two suitcases to indicate Rose was packing to leave. He explains how he will lead Tragg to trip himself up, that maybe she was unpacking. Then Marlow's claim she was invited to play tennis won't appear out of line. He notes they cannot afford to be caught, for burglary is a matter of intent. With flashlights they go up to Rose's room. Della turns edges of Rose's stacked clothes, notices how accurately they are folded, how "the edges are all uniform, just absolutely the dimensions of the suitcase." Mason is right, she was unpacking. The only way "they exactly fit the dimensions of the suitcase" is because they were folded into it, and have now been taken out. Mason reminds Street that she cannot testify to what she's found, the must get the room guarded so nothing can be changed. They tiptoe downstairs but, as they exit, a police car "flooded the porch with blood-red brilliance." Mason polishes the key, puts it under the door mat. They play at trying to get an answer to the bell. A radio officer approaches them and says that they've been inside. Mason says he's been buzzing the officer (guarding the room). Caddo comes forth, says he saw Mason go in. Mason tells the officer Caddo is a liar. Caddo was watching the place because he expected someone to plant evidence that would incriminate Dolores; "The minute I saw you at that door, I knew it was going to happen, and I made a dash to the telephone." Mason's brilliant mind seizes upon this to prove to the officer that Caddo could not have seen them enter the building. Delta, who's taken all this down in shorthand reads back Caddo's statement. `Mason has the officer search him for a key, even emptying his pockets, and offers to have Della go to Headquarters to be searched. Since Caddo had said his wife had said nothing, Mason crucifies him; how then did he know where Keeling lived? Mason demands the room be guarded, and the radio officer has his partner, Jack, call Headquarters and get a guard sent out.


Judge Osborn is presiding, Deputy District Attorney James Hanover is the prosecutor. Dr Thomas C Hiller testifies that death occurred between 11:30 and noon, a blow was struck but death was from a knife. Lt Tragg identifies photos of the crime scene and finding Mason and Street there when he arrived, then how he found the supposed murder weapon in the defendant's automobile in a public rental garage where Mason left it. Tragg now identifies a blood-covered knife which has no fingerprints. Mason allows its introduction not as a murder weapon but as a knife found in the defendant's car. Sergeant Holcomb is asked to testify to an admission made in "the office of the Homicide Squad at police headquarters." Mason objects, questions Holcomb on how the questioning of Marlow took place. "Was there one big light in the room?" "And that was directed full on the face of the defendant?" Then, didn't he have a woman "identify" Marlow? She was "A night stenographer in the traffic department." Didn't Lt Tragg come in by a prearranged signal? Mason calls this "a typical case of a police third degree." The judge allows evidence of an admission, but not a confession. Mason's cross-examination weakens every statement made by Holcomb; she was there only about the time of the murder, that she didn't use a key but found the door open. Tragg is called back. He testifies about finding the clothes in suitcases indicating Rose was planning on a long trip. Only Mason's fingerprints were found on the phone. He came to the apartment because of a call from Mason. The defendant said she had an appointment to play tennis, and she had destroyed Rose Keeling's letter. Mason challenges the introduction of a carbon copy and the Court adjourns until the afternoon.


Mason notes to Street that Hanover is "trying to breeze through the case" which satisfies Judge Osborn who "is a fine, honest, direct, upright judge, but (who has) never had much actual courtroom experience." Mason accepts that either Marlow is guilty or being framed. Mason thinks it significant that Dolores called on Rose, but then did not call on Marilyn. If Dolores did visit Rose after Marilyn and throw ink, then Marilyn's assertion that she came back to play tennis holds true. Dolores did not murder Rose, for it was Mason's statement to her that was her first knowledge of Rose's death, causing her to change her testimony. He is certain the cigarette on the floor was Rose's so the cigar was a man's. As they head back to court, they see the Endicott's and Caddo; Palmer offers Caddo a cigar.


Ralph Endicott replaces Tragg on the stand. He testifies to receiving the carbon copy through the mails and having a conversation the morning of the murder with Keeling where she told him she'd sent him the carbon copy. On cross, Mason asks for the entire conversation he had with Rose. He admits to Keeling's telling him that she doubted if his brother had actually signed the check and the sale of jewelry was also fraudulent and she gave him a thousand dollar check "to ease her conscience." He was satisfied the check and note were true because the signatures were the same, and he'd seen her sign the check. Ralph is forced to produce the check, but won't leave until he has it back. It will be photostated. Tragg returns. He says he showed the carbon copy to the defendant who said she destroyed the original. Mason bores in until Tragg is trapped regarding packing or unpacking. Mason tests him, giving him feminine garments and a suitcase and asking him to fold the garments and then put them in the suitcase. On the first try there is an inch and a half clearance. Tragg tries again, and the pile is three-quarters too wide. Finally Tragg won't admit Keeling was unpacking, but he withdraws his statement that she was packing. Mason then brings up the torn, ink-stained clothes in the bathroom hamper. Rose was not bathing before tennis, but after getting ink on herself and her clothes. While the court recesses for a photostat to be made, Perry instructs Paul to wait outside the door of the court when it reconvenes. Also, send one of his men to get the cashier who certified Rose's check with a forthwith subpoena.


Perry tells Marilyn he's going to take a chance and calls Central Security Bank cashier Stewart Alvin who has just arrived with the bank's records. Alvin states he certified the check for Ralph Endicott. And the day before she wrote that check she deposited another for a thousand dollars. Mason recalls Ralph Endicott. His thumbprint on the check is not of the same ink as that with which the check was written, but is ball-point ink, the same as was used to write the note. Now Mason says he paid Keeling to lie the day before she was murdered. She then decided she couldn't go through with it and gave him her thousand-dollar check. "No, sir, that's not right!" he states, and Mason agrees! Because he was not the one who called on Keeling the next day. Mason demands Endicott's pen, but it is not a ball-point. Mason wants to take his thumbprint. The print on the check, he asserts, is that of his brother, Palmer. He calls Palmer Endicott to come forward and be sworn, and Palmer tries to leave, but is wrestled to the floor by Paul Drake.


Perry Mason tells Della Street to get four seats at the Ice Follies. When Paul Drake joins them, Della tells him he's stepping out with Marilyn, Perry and herself, but Mason corrects her; it is Kenneth Barstow who will be with Marilyn. Mason explains. Keeling used a fountain pen, as the shading of the lines on the check showed. Yet the note was written with a ball-point pen which, unlike a fountain pen, could produce a good carbon copy, and the thumbprint was from ball-point ink. Ralph had an iron-clad alibi, but Palmer didn't. Palmer was clever. When he showed the blank piece of paper, he was holding it with one finger and his thumb, which had already left his thumbprint. When Ralph got to the table to put his prints on the paper, he only added four finger of his right hand and his whole left hand. Thus, Palmer's print on the check matched the print on the paper. The Endicotts did bribe Keeling to write the note, using ball-point for the carbon, thinking Marilyn would never show the letter so they were safe. Overnight Rose repented. Palmer went to her, wanted cash, but Rose insisted on a check because she'd only deposited the money in the bank the day before. The Endicotts were not sufficiently affluent to forego the thousand dollars, so they couldn't throw away the check. Palmer got Rose to write the check to Ralph and Ralph to certify the check. Palmer then went back and killed Keeling. The door had been left open by Dolores. Palmer was an inveterate cigar smoker, was probably smoking when he entered the apartment, ground out the cigar so the odor of its smoke wouldn't betray him, and put it in his pocket. Mason, playing cupid, tells Drake to send Barstow on a job (to Marilyn). Drake says that while they are out romancing, he'll "be sitting in [his] office, slaving [his] fingers to the bone . . . Making up a fat expense account in the Marilyn Marlow case."

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Thirty-second Perry Mason Novel, © 1948;

The Case of the Vagabond Virgin

Click HERE to go to a related TV episode

Della Street

Eric Hansell

Carl B Knight

Perry Mason

Edgar Z. Ferrell

Charles W Neffs

John Racer Addison

Drake's switchboard operator

Fingerprint expert

Veronica Dale

Department store night watchman

Frank Parma, deputy sheriff

Jail matron

Sergeant Holcomb

Dr Parker C Loretto

Harry Bend

Lorraine Ferrell

George Malden (ballistics)

Rockaway Hotel desk clerk

A wolf driving a car

Court deputy sheriff

Mr. Putnam

Merna Raleigh

Two drake operatives

Two telephone operators

Frank Summerville

Laura Mae Dale

Addison's secretary

Myrtle C. Northrup

Hamilton Burger's secretary

Laura Mae Dale

Newspaper reporters

Court matron

Rockaway Hotel chambermaid


Lone newsman


Judge Paul M Keetley

Thomas P Barrett

George Whittley Dundas



Della Street informs Perry Mason that the department store man, John Racer Addison, is on the phone. He is impatient, hyperactive. He wants to know if you can "put a virgin in jail as a vagrant?" Mason tells him how loosely the term "vagrant" can be interpreted. Addison instructs Mason to get a girl out of City Jail, Veronica Dale. Don't mention him. Don't plead guilty, raise the devil. Send him a bill. Mason sends Della to the jail.


The matron brings Veronica to the visitors' room. She "looked childish in her innocence, a platinum blonde with a poker face, wide blue eyes, thin, flawless skin and a good figure." She explains how she went for a walk from the Rockaway Hotel, was stopped by an officer. She "wasn't doing a thing" but he said she "was doing something--well, something that I wasn't!" Mason says he's put up $200 bail. Harry Bend, the arresting officer, says it looked like she was soliciting. He "was afraid she'd wind up as a corpse." Mason informs him she has a room, and she thought he was insulting. Mason talks him into going to the hotel. When they pick up Veronica, she tells Bend that he hasn't "any respect for womanhood." Mason says he was just doing his job. She counters, "I don't like his job." Bend says, bitterly, "Neither do I." They go to the hotel, discovering Veronica is only eighteen. Bend asks the desk clerk if they have a Veronica Dale registered. Yes, 309. He only came on in the morning, so doesn't recognize Veronica. She is asked to write her name; it matches the registration card, which has a note from the manager, Mr Putnam, to reserve a room for Dale. She arrived at 9:45, fifteen minutes after the call came to the hotel. They find the room unused but occupied. Bend agrees to dismiss. When he leaves, she asks for privacy but Mason tells her always leave the door open whenever she has a man in the room. Mason gives her $50 to tide her over. Mason goes to a telephone booth in the lobby, phones Addison, has to go through two telephone operators and a secretary to get to the man. He informs Addison that Dale is out on bail and the complaint will be withdrawn. How long has he known Veronica? He just met her. Send him the bill. Mason asserts that "Either that girl is pretty dumb, or she tried hard to get herself arrested." Addison says "she's naive." Mason suggests it is Addison who is naive.


Della announces Laura Mae Dale. Before she is admitted, Mason checks if they billed Addison; $500. Mrs Dale moves with "swift efficiency." She just wants to thank Mason. She, like her daughter, hitchhiked from a small town in Indiana. She followed because Veronica wants to be independent. She wishes she'd "had a mother to keep an eye on me and help me. . .Well, that's water under the bridge. Never cry about spilled milk. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof and all that stuff." (This is typical of her.) She wants to pay his bill. Mason says $50 is enough, but she writes a check for $150, asks for and is given a receipt. If Veronica asks, say the fee was paid by a friend. Addison phone and demands immediate audience.


Gertie tells Mason that Addison is fit to be tied, won't sit down. When he enters, he glares at Street, but Mason says he can trust her. He trusts no one. He's being blackmailed by George W (for Whittley) Dundas, tabloid columnist. He shows Mason a column cut out from a newspaper. He's dealing indirectly, with Eric Hansell, the man who gets Dundas his facts. Mason asks him to state the facts since his meeting the virgin. He picked her up, hitchhiking, learned of her boredom with her small-town environment, waiting tables for her widowed mother at a small restaurant lunch counter. He learned she wanted to be independent, self-reliant, but had no place to say and was short of cash. So he phoned the Rockaway Hotel manager and arrange for a room. At the hotel, he watched from the car until he was certain she'd registered. Then at home the jail matron called him. Veronica must have looked at the registration on the steering post while he was phoning. He got the call just before he phoned Mason. He's seen her since; he got her a job at his (Treasure Chest) department store. Eric Hansell then called him up wanting an interview. He asked impertinent, personal questions, finally asking him about his "relationship with Veronica Dale." Hansell knew he'd telephoned the hotel, he'd hired his personal attorney to represent her, he'd given her employment. After asking Hansell how much he wanted and getting no answer, he kicked him out, then paced the office floor for about an hour before coming to Mason. He gives Mason Hansell's telephone number. Addison explains he can't get into any controversy because of his partner, Edgar Z Ferrell, a "hidebound, narrow-minded, bigoted stick-in-the-mud" who, fortunately, is on vacation (without his wife). Ferrell's a trained accountant who "pounces on every mistake." Addison can't afford to have him see in print any scandal. Ferrell inherited his share of the company when his father died and Addison didn't buy him out then, and the company has prospered since but might go down by summer. Addison says he's got to pay off to keep anything from becoming public. Mason rehashes his relationship with Veronica, leading to her mother showing up, paying him $150. Mason says he can write a personal check and tear up the bill. He still insists that there is a stockholders' meeting in two weeks, they should pay off. Mason tells him what happens with blackmailers and that what he really wants is to be sure his "name doesn't get put in a gossip column in connection with an affair with an eighteen-year-old juvenile delinquent." He has Addison sign a bank check, then tells him to become incommunicado. Alone with Della, Mason has her put on gloves, and he does likewise. He traces in pencil on a blank check Addison's signature, then inks over it with India ink. Della says that it's not a good forgery, which is what he wants. He sends Della out to a typewriter store to fill in the rest of the check for $2,000, and to not ask him questions. Gertie gets Drake on the phone. Mason tells Paul to "ring up every bank in town" and tell them to watch for India ink forgeries. He then phones Hansell.


Perry informs Gertie he's going to Paul Drake's office. When Hansell has been ushered into his private office by Della, phone him. Mason goes to Drake's, asks the switchboard operator for Paul, goes to his office. They chat; the shortage of operatives is over. Gertie calls, Mason leaves. At his office, he finds Della and Hansell, who is seated with his hat on Mason's table. Putting himself between Haskell and the hat, Mason, with gloves, puts the check in the hat. Mason dismissed Street. He and Hansell barter back and forth until Haskell states the situation about Addison in colorful language. Mason says he'll get in touch. Hansell is arrogant, suggests Mason see him, but freezes when he picks up his hat, discovers the check. His attitude changes. Now he is nice, yet challenges Mason about having the place wired for sound. Mason warns him that he can't get more than that check, once he's signed it. Hansell leaves, calling Mason a "Wise guy!"


Shortly before closing time Addison is back. He has a new problem. Ferrell is "married to a very attractive woman," Lorraine. About three weeks ago he was offered a country estate about twenty miles out, but he passed since it was run down. Ferrell was with him, and two days later he bought the property without letting him know. He learned this from the real-estate dealer, who said Ferrell was in a hurry, wanted the property by Tuesday because he expected to be there for two or three weeks beginning Tuesday. Addison says he thought Ferrell might be putting over a fast one on his wife, so he drove out Tuesday night to check it out. Someone had been there, because there were tire tracks. But no one was there. So maybe Ferrell bought it for an investment. But then he received a telegram which indicated Ferrell was travelling. Then Lorraine saw Ferrell only this afternoon in his car with a cute red-headed trick. If Ferrell is using the house as a love nest, he wants to catch him so Lorraine will file for divorce and he can buy her share of the joint stock. He invites Mason to go with him to catch Ferrell.


Addison directs Mason to the house, noting the place nearby where he picked up Veronica. There are no lights on. The place seems locked, every window, every door. There is a bullet hole in an upstairs room. Mason tries the front door and it opens. Going up the stairs, Addison stumbles, grabs the banister, leaving fingerprints. They find Ferrell, dead, for as much as four days, which would make it Tuesday night. With Addison demanding the immediately call the police. Mason drives him to the spot where he picked up Veronica that night, and points out how he is involved, that Veronica would know he'd come from the house by the sound of his car negotiating the steep hill before turning on the highway. He tells Addison he's going to call Lorraine Ferrell, ask her if she's heard anything more from Edgar, mention the country house deal, the when she wants to go there, go with her. Leave his fingerprints all over downstairs before going upstairs and finding the body. The police won't be able to tell when the fingerprints were left, that night, or the night of the murder.


Drake's night switchboard girl passes Mason on to Drake's office where, on the phone, Drake is giving Sergeant Holcomb a tip. When he hangs up, he asks Mason about forged checks. The police picked up Eric Hansell trying to forge a check, and the man finally broke down and said Mason gave it to him. The attorney suggests the detective go to the sheriff's office to check on Edgar Z Ferrell who was supposed to be on a vacation trip but whose wife Lorraine saw his car with another woman driving in town this afternoon. He's worried that Ferrell might have been the victim of a holdup. Mason calls Holcomb and is told that "Every time you get mixed into a case, Mason, there's something screwy about it." He expects Mason to stall, but instead he agrees to go to Headquarters directly. Perry explains to Paul that Lieutenant Tragg of Homicide is a square shooter and a smart man. Holcomb is a moron who will frame a prisoner if he thinks the man is guilty." At police headquarters he is welcomed by Holcomb but Hansell asks "What sort of a frame-up is this? "The sergeant explains that Hansell tried to cash a check with a traced signature. He then threatened the cops with what George Whittley Dundas could do to them, but Dundas said that he knew Hansell only slightly. He tried a different story. Mason suggests to Holcomb that he should check Hansell's fingerprints. Mason challenges Hansell to say what the check he says he got from him was for. Holcomb thinks it involves blackmail. Hansell now says Addison sent him to Mason and he'd finance his business deal involving manufacturer of a product Addison would sell, but he cannot identify manufacturer or product. Holcomb gets the record on Hansell, alias Hanover, alias Handwig, an extortionist. Hansell now says he only went to Addison for a loan. Again, his previous story was false. Mason suggests Holcomb call Addison before Hansell can reach him. Holcomb gets a call and tells Mason that Edgar Z Ferrell has been found dead, shot probably Tuesday evening. Mason asks Hansell where he was Tuesday night. Mason leaves with Holcomb speaking of blackmail and Hansell screaming he's not a murderer.


The night watchman at the Treasure Chest admitted Mason, tells him that Mrs Ferrell awaits him but Addison is with the police. She notices how he quickly appraises her when she shows some leg. He explains how important it is in his profession to size people up quickly. He suggest the "best time to size [a prospective juror] is as he walks up to the jury box." She asks if she should walk, and does. She says her "husband bored [her] to distraction." She mistakenly married for money. She was tempted, but never cheated. She'll date, but not likely marry. She tells the lawyer that apparently Edgar use oil lights on the lower floor, took a lantern with him upstairs. The police figure the shot was from right beside where tire tracks have been found. They've found a woman's fingerprints all over the place. She thinks the murder works or worked in the department store. Mason's reasoning leads to the conclusion it was probably a married woman. She turned off the lamp after her irate husband shot Ferrell. Addison bursts in. Ferrell was shot with his gun, which he'd taught Edgar to use. It was found in a dry wash near the house, and there were no fingerprints. Mason says he shouldn't say one word, but he says he'll "have to explain some things." "Then you'll have to explain everything." He admits he can't do that, and Mason walks out.


Drake is shaving and reading reports when Mason arrives at 8 am. He reports that the weapon that did the killing is a .38 and they've found a .38, which is Addison's. They cut out the glass with the bullet hole, which is clean-cut. There is a "wound of ingress, no exit wound." Holcomb is all worked u over Hansell, who is a blackmailer, but the whole thing is a frame-up. Mason wants more on Laura Mae Dale, but no clumsy work. Mason then tells Drake to listen carefully so he'll remember not so much what he says, but what he doesn't say. Hitchhiking Veronica impressed Addison "posing as a synthetic creation of cherubic innocence that was in vogue in the novels of the gay nineties." "He escorted her to the hotel, then tried to step out of her life." Then she gets arrested for vagrancy. Then her mother calls up and pays her fee. The mother wants to know if Veronica settles down, or "starts sowing a wild oat around." "Just one oat?" Drake asks, grinning. He tells Drake to get Addison to call Veronica to go to Della's.


Tragg is seated in Della's chair when Mason enters. Holcomb is upset, and Hansell confessed to extortion claiming Mason forged the check. The bank says the check is a forgery. They now know Addison was at least near the murder scene.


When Mason is taken in to Holcomb's by Tragg, he first says "Remember, Hansell, these people can't give you immunity. They . . ." Holcomb cuts him off. Hansell is told to talk. He says he can't make a living giving George Whittley Dundas bits of information, but the publicity he gets gives him "a chance to make a better shakedown." He stays around Headquarters, noticed a high-priced lawyer springing "a broad on a vag." Backtracking, he got to the hotel manager, then Dale, finally John Racer Addison, who sent him to Mason. The attorney slipped the forged check into his hat. Hansell then says the blonde was picked up ten or fifteen miles past Canyon Verde and was taken to the hotel. Tragg reminds him he's "getting immunity on a blackmail rap" because he blundered into a murder. Now the girls was picked up twenty miles beyond Canyon Verde, "just about opposite the place where the crime was committed" notes Tragg. Further, she sized up cars before facing the good ones as a hitchhiker. She heard Addison's car crossing a plank bridge and climbing a hill, which is the way out of the crime scene. Tragg suggest they take Veronica out to the culvert at night to see if she can identify the place she was picked up, but Holcomb, having just gotten a phone call is unenthusiastic. When he tries to pull Tragg back from arresting Mason, the lieutenant calls all this "a typical Mason trick." Holcomb restrains Tragg as Mason leaves. Back at his office, Della asks if Holcomb didn't get a call. "Hell, yes!" She explains, she got Addison to call and say the check was good! He laughs, then sends Della home to await Veronica.


Mason goes to Della's. She says she had a short visit from Lorraine Ferrell, who is in love with Addison. As to Veronica, both are baffled by her sweet innocence act. She can't be "that dumb" is Della's attitude. Mason should have a witness, so they both go to Della's friend's apartment to see Veronica and Mason begins the questioning. She says she had been hitchhiking five days. There was no fun in her small rural town. She just took off. Her mother couldn't be following her, because she wouldn't know what direction she went. She had wolf trouble just before being picked up by Addison. She switched off the ignition, grabbed the keys, then got out of the car, tossed the keys back. She waited about forty-five minutes, worried the wolf might come back, then heard Addison's car. She remembered a car, possibly Addison's, backfiring four or five times. Tragg and Holcomb virtually knock the door down to get in and make Veronica a prosecution witness. When Mason and Street get back to her apartment it is unlocked. She cannot remember if it were latched, or not. Mason explains how the backfires followed the shooting; they were gunshots as the shooter emptied the gun, takes out the shells, throws the gun away, thinking this prevents the police from proving the gun is the murder weapon since they couldn't match the murder bullet with shells in the gun. A call from Drake warns Mason that Holcomb may try to frame him. They search the room, find six empty .38 calibre cartridges, where both Veronica and Lorraine sat, or where Holcomb planted them. Mason fashions a slingshot, wipes fingerprints off the cartridges, slings them out the window into an adjoining lot.


The bank on which Laura Mae Dale's check to Mason was written has no account. Drake cannot find her. Della phones; the police took Veronica away, and no one has searched her apartment. A call for Drake reveals a neighbor to the country house heard gunshots at ten of nine. There's a young red-head, Merna Raleigh, at the department store who went to the house with Ferrell Friday night. Ferrell promised to put her in charge of the personnel department. Drake's operative, Frank Summerville, got her story before the police took her into hiding. Summerville says Raleigh had figured him for a detective, but she spilled her story. Ferrell wanted her at the country place Friday, between nine and ten, and drew her a map with distances and such on it. Now, the personnel department is run by a smart, forty-five-ish, woman, Myrtle C. Northrup, who is the company treasurer. She liked Ferrell's dad, but not Junior. Summerville is told by Drake to write a very detailed report. Gertie reports that Mrs Northrup left yesterday on her vacation. Mason tells Drake to find out about Laura Mae Dale; he smells a possible arrangement between Ferrell and the two Dales to get Addison in trouble.


Newspaper reporters and spectators jam the courtroom as Judge Paul M Keetley enters, shortly followed by a bailiff with John Addison. Mason disrupts Hamilton Burger by calling for Veronica Dale to be produced or a continuance granted. Assistant prosecutor Carl B Knight whispers to Burger, and Burger assures the court she will be produced. He calls Charles Neffs to testify. He is the deputy sheriff who, with another deputy and Paul Drake, accompanied Lorraine Ferrell and John Addison to a farmhouse about midnight. On a map, he shows where he met Ferrell and Addison, and the route they took. Photos are introduced showing the site. At the house he found the body and a window with a round hole in it. A box with the window glass sealed between two sheets of plastic is produced. He says Addison said he'd been there only three weeks before, and he and Mrs Ferrell came out when she got worried about her husband. She knew nothing of his purchasing the farmhouse. Photographs are introduced of tire tracks. The are from two different times, but are identical. Mason asks about the glass; which is in, and which out, side? He cannot tell. What happened to the rest of the glass. It was used for tests, and is destroyed. The fingerprint expert found numerous prints, some as yet unidentified. Deputy sheriff Frank Parma testifies to finding a .38 revolver belonging to John Addison. Dr Parker C Loretto identifies the fatal bullet. George Malden says it matches a test bullet fired from Addison's gun. Mason asks him about the unidentified fingerprints and Burger argues Mason is not entitled to that police evidence. Eric Hensell is called, and testifies to meeting Addison in his office, was sent to Mason who gave him a check for $2000. Mason tricks him; was the check for being with the cutie, or for being on the road the night of the murder. Further, doesn't he have an agreement for immunity? Hasn't he been convicted of felonies? Four. Didn't he have an accomplice? Burger objects. Mason says he wants to know who the other woman was who was at the house.


Mason tells the surrounding newsmen "There are the fingerprints of at least one mysterious woman in this murder house. There may be the prints of still another woman. Who are these women?" Drake grabs Mason's arm, whispers, "We've located the woman you wanted." His men found her in a little town in Indiana and have flown her to Los Angeles. They go to her room in the Rockaway. Two Drake operatives are watching her. They go into the bedroom, and meet the real Laura Mae Dale. She hasn't seen her daughter, whose " regular little vagabond," for over a year. The first time she left was four years before. She's twenty years old. Mason calls Burger, gets his secretary. Burger is heading home, won't let Mrs Dale see Veronica.


Judge Keetley now sustain's Burger's objection. Mason asks Hansell how he got the information which allowed him to approach Addison. He relates noting Mason defending a babe charged with vagrancy, going to the hotel where the manager revealed the Addison connection. Burger admits Hansell is a blackmailer, but the name of the columnist is not relevant. Hansell tells the judge he needs the publishing outlet for clout. Mason admits the defendant paid this witness $2000. Keetly remarks to Burger about the witness's smug complacency, and Burger says there is personal antagonism between Counsel and witness. A matron now brings in Veronica Dale. She is "attired in a neat-fitting cream-colored tailored suit, which . . . gave her a virginal appearance of innocence, an angelic beauty. . ." Veronica states she's "Just eighteen." She doesn't "exactly have any residence" and blinks back tears. She testifies to getting a ride, identifies a photo of the culvert at which she was picked up, marks the spot on the map. She tells how she first heard the car and where it came from. Before hearing the motor, she heard six shots, one, then another, then four together. She relates how Addison picked her up, stopped at a service station to call ahead for a hotel room, took her there, "a perfect gentleman." Later, she got a job when he sent her to his personnel manager with his card. Mason begins his cross-examination. So she was living with her mother, then hitchhiked west, which took "as much as a week?" She guesses so. "Then you were at home with your mother in this restaurant up to a week before you first met Mr Addison." A long silence follows. Burger tries to defend her. The courts says it is fair cross-examination. Veronica asks for a glass of water. Burger rushes to her aid; "No, Veronica, don't overtax yourself." "'What's the matter with her?' Mason asked." "'What do you mean?' Burger roared at him." "'She seems to me to be a healthy young woman, some twenty years old,' Mason said. 'She certainly should be able to answer a question as to what time she left home. The way you're coddling her, I'm beginning to think there's something wrong with her.'" "'Well, there isn't!' Burger shouted." Mason gives Veronica a glass of water. Burger explodes with "Twenty years old!" He suggests Mason is throwing mud at an unspoiled, barely eighteen-year-old, young woman. Mason calmly waits for her to finish her water. When Burger protests further, the judge asks if he's checked her age, and Burger reasserts eighteen. Mason states twenty. The judge forces the issue, and Veronica finally admits she's twenty. "How long since you've last seen your mother?" Burger now interposes that the mother is in town, and Veronica should have "the comfort of her mother's presence." He prevented the two from getting together, then couldn't find the mother when he thought better. The judge has lost all sympathy with Veronica, and demands the question be answered. Veronica admits she hasn't seen her mother for about a year. Where has she been in the meantime? Burger objects; the past year is too much. Sustained. Mason asks her how she was on that road, how she got away from the wolf, then, what make of car and what was its license. Doesn't she keep a record of the licenses of the cars she rides in? A notebook? The judge agrees she must produce it. She keeps it "in case there should be any complications." But there were none with Addison. In the notebook, the last name and license are Addison, yet there are twenty-one others. The license of the wolf is not there. Mason reads out the number before Addison. Addison struggles to his feet; "That's the license number of Edgar Ferrell's automobile!" Mason suggest the fingerprints of Veronica be taken and compared to the unidentified ones. Mason points out that the fingerprint on Veronica's glass should match. Take the others. George Malden comes forth, takes the prints. Burger announces that they are the same. Veronica now tells her tale. She was in the farmhouse with Ferrell. She was working a racket with her hitchhiking. She make's her living that way. Men pick her up, give her five to fifty dollars to help out. At a gas station, Ferrell drove up, and she joined him. When they got to the house, where he was to be joined by some people for a short meeting, he heard a car. It was his wife, so he chased her outside. She circled back to his car to get her bag so the wife wouldn't find it. She didn't want to get messed up in domestic business, so left, wandered, got dirty, changed and cleaned up to be presentable. She didn't realize she was still close to the house. The shots were at least ten minutes before she got to the road; she cheated on the time to protect herself, and there was no wolf. She made eighty dollars, a typical day. The judge suggests a recess and that the story be checked, further, perjury must be considered.


Mason, Street and Drake ponder the impossibilities. How did the murderer, outside the building, know Ferrell was dead? He asks for several legal studies books, reads. Comparing the photo from inside, showing the window, with the window photo revealing crack lines, he deduces which side of the pane is inside, and that the bullet hole was shot, not from outside, but inside! That still doesn't solve all the problems.


At the court, a newsman warns Mason that Burger is going to ask for a continuance. When that happens, Mason objects, notes one week is not the legal two days. Mason recalls Hansell, asks him about his blackmailing technique. Doesn't he use a feminine accomplice, particularly Laura Mae Dale. No. Didn't he blackmail people Veronica had been able to maneuver into a compromising position. Burger objects, but Keetley overrules, warning that immunity was not given for these other blackmails. He cannot refuse to answer about the Addison blackmail. He admits Veronica got herself arrested for vagrancy to lay a base for blackmail, but he know's nothing about a woman who posed as Laura Mae Dale. Mason consents to a week's continuance. Driving back to his office Mason explains to Drake (and Della) the significance of dates. Ferrell was putting across a big business deal in the country house. Lorraine Ferrell went out the night of the murder, had a row with her husband. Only Veronica and Lorraine could have left the empty cartridges at Della's. Mrs Ferrell is also in love with Addison. Mason notes Ferrell went fishing, but Drake realizes it is not trout fishing season. Two weeks, back just in time for the annual stockholder's meeting in which he and Addison each hold 40% of the stock. Mason says he tried to reach the treasurer, Myrtle C Northrup, the only other person to attend the meetings, with proxies, and she is on a two-week vacation. Now, how did the false Laura Mae Dale know so much accurate, as well as erroneous, information about Veronica? And why did Veronica and Hansell need this woman? They didn't is Mason's conclusion. All she got was a receipt, her check was no good. She gave him a defense for Addison's blackmail! Northrup is loyal to Addison, notes Drake. Ferrell's red-headed chick was promised Northrup's job, so Ferrell was going to fire her. "Or promote her" is Mason's comment, "so her job would be vacant.


Mason, Street and Drake go to Northrup's apartment, and find the false Laura Mae Dale. Mason explains that only she, in charge of personnel, could have known true facts about Veronica, as well as the wrong ones given by her. She admits that she did what she did to help Addison, having overheard the blackmailer. When Mason tells her that her fingerprints are at the house, she give up. She played the ponies, lost, dipped into company funds, got caught by Ferrell. In order to avoid prosecution, she had to throw in with Ferrell and get other stockholders to do likewise, including Merna Raleigh who inherited stock from her mother. When she went to the house with her boyfriend Thomas P Barrett, they passed Mrs Ferrell coming out, though at that time she didn't know it was her. Tom stayed in the car. She went in. Ferrell was to have returned a confession he'd made her write, but now his wife had seen Veronica and was going to divorce him. The only thing he could do was show his wife the confession and explain the deal they hoped to pull off to get control of the company. She grabbed the gun from the top of his suitcase, they wrestled, the gun went off and a bullet went through the window. Her coat was over her wrist. When he twisted her hand, her finger was twisted against the trigger, and the gun fired through her coat, so there were no powder burns on his face. She drove his car to Las Vegas, flew back. She was "terribly angry at the smug hypocrisy of that baby-faced little bitch." When she overheard Hansell, she knew the blonde hussy was in with blackmailers. She wanted to confront Veronica, then realized she had the shells, which, for a tip to the chambermaid, she was able to put in Veronica's suitcase, figuring the police would give her a shakedown. Mason then notes Veronica realized what the shells were, planted them in Della's apartment.


Mason, Della Street, and Paul Drake are at a lunch counter in a drugstore, Mason tells what the significant clues were. Only one woman could have had the information on Veronica. Then the coincidence of Ferrell's and Northrup's vacations. It wouldn't have happened if he hadn't fallen for the police theory that the shot was fired from outside the window.

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Thirty-third Perry Mason Novel, © 1949;

The Case of the Dubious Bridegroom

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Perry Mason

Señora Inocente Miguerinio


Virginia Colfax, aka . . .

Alman Bell Hackley

Mrs Irving


A Mexican boy named Pancho

San Diego County Deputy Sheriff

Bull-necked man

Crowd at crime scene

D A Hamlin L Covington


Drake's tail on Ethel

Deputy D A Samuel Jarvis

Drake's night receptionist

Oceanside deputy sheriff

Lawyers, spectators, courtroom attaches

Edward Charles Garvin

Frank L Bynum


Ethel Carter

Crowd scene individual

Judge Harrison E Minden

Lorraine Evans


Court Clerk

Goldmining friends of Drake

. . . aka Virginia C Bynum

Oceanside Chief of Police

Friend of the goldminers

Sergeant Holcomb


George L Denby

Stockholder Smith

Autopsy surgeon

Frank C Livesey

Lieutenant Tragg

A friend

Book club friend of Ethel

Hackley's Nevada foreman

La Jolla hotel manager

Monolith Apartments desk clerk

Hackley's broker

Howard B Scanlon

Elevator operator

Rolando C Lomax

Carl Otis

District attorney Stockton

Mortimer C Irving

Monolith apartments switchboard operator

The original Willliam Morrow & Company publication is dedicated to Mrs Frances G Lee, Captain, New Hampshire State Police, and One of the Few Women Who Ever Kept Perry Mason Guessing.


Parry Mason, tired from the day's work, had turned out the lights in his office. Just before the lights in the office above clicked on, a graceful, feminine foot, then another, appear on the fire escape from above. Fresh wind lifted her skirts. Mason helps her into his office through the window. She cautions him to not turn on the lights. Mason next ask what, metallic, was in her hand. A flashlight. Not a gun? Mason frisks her nicely-shaped body. She says she's employed upstairs in the Garvin Mining, Exploration and Development Company. Her employer asked her to come back and work that evening, then didn't show. She had stepped on to the fire escape the night was so nice, with the lights off. Then his wife arrive, so she hid down the fire escape. She is Miss Virginia Colfax. Mason offers to escort her to her car. On the way out, she says she didn't have to register, because visitors to the Drake Detective Agency are not required to do so. The janitor takes them to the main floor. Outside, she slaps Mason and runs to a taxi, as a bull-necked man restrains him in view of many bystanders. Mason then searches the alley for the flashlight/gun, finds none. He goes to Drake's, asks the night receptionist for Paul, leaves instructions, returns to his office. He finds "a handkerchief grimed with dirt that might have come off the fire escape" embroidered with "V."


Mason wins his argument before the State Supreme Court, returns to his office where he is greeted by Della Street, who shows him the newspaper Gossip Column which reveals the whole previous evening's escapade. He then explains what is not in the paper. Della recognizes Ciro's Surrender perfume on the handkerchief. A Mr Garvin is waiting to see Mason. He enters, impatient. He's been remarried six weeks. His was a Mexican divorce. Ten years ago he married Ethel Carter. Now, since he remarried, she's become a hellcat. Mason describes Colfax, and he doesn't recognize the person. When he separated from Ethel, he gave her a New Mexican mine. From there, she wrote she was getting a Reno divorce, but didn't. When he met Lorraine Evans, he went to Mexico where a lawyer said he could establish residence. There he got a Mexican divorce and married Lorrie. Now Ethel wants him. Mason asks if he knows his wife was at his office the previous night. No.


Drake reports on Garvin. Marriage to Ethel Carter, two affairs, marriage to Lorraine Evans. He picks up mines, prospects, turns the good ones over to the Edward Charles Garvin Company which turns them over to the Garvin Mining, Exploration and Development Company for fat profits. He is not a member of the board of directors, has less than controlling stock, but as manager collects a fat salary and bonus based on profits. Paul reports that, through goldmining friends who led him to their friend, a stockholder, he learned of a second proxy solicitation with voting rights given to E C Garvin, holder of Certificate Number 123. Later Mason notes to Della that E C Garvin might be Ethel Carter Garvin. Della finds that Garvin is on a second honeymoon, and cannot be reached. Della gets Garvin company secretary/treasurer George L Denby to come in. Denby doesn't give direct answers. To give Mason answers, he needs authorization from president Frank C Livesey. Della gets his number, and he agrees to come to see Mason.


Livesey is forward, tho hesitant to get anyone in trouble. He talked with Denby before seeing Mason. He says Ethel C Garvin is the E C Garvin of stock certificate 123. If she gets control, "She'd wreck the whole damn Business." Drake phones in that he's found Ethel, through a book club friend. Drake is told to put a twenty-four hour tail on her. Livesey doesn't recognize Colfax, either. As he leaves, Della calls him a "God's gift to women" type. Now Drake is told to find Garvin.


The Monolith Apartments desk clerk calls 624, then sends Mason up to Mrs Ethel Garvin. The elevator operator prefers to read, eventually guides the elevator to six. Mrs Garvin is curious why he is concerned about the proxy, is taken aback when he says a detective found her, then is concerned when she finds he is an attorney. Is she planning to take over the company? She only says her husband will get paid back as he gave out. She calls the district attorney, says she wants to take out a complaint against her bigamous husband. District attorney Stockton doesn't want to get into Mexican divorces, but gives her a next-day appointment. Mason warns her he'll find out about her. She wishes she'd retained him before Edward id.


Edward C Garvin is looking at the moonlight over the Pacific with his wife Lorrie. He's in a romantic mood; she's hungry. The go into town for dinner, and Mason finds them. He's not interested in business, so Mason comes out with the fact that his "wife has sent out a flock of proxies in her own name." Lorraine corrects with "His former wife." Mason counters that. Mason explains Ethel's ploy. If he goes to the meeting, he'll be arrested for bigamy.


They go to Tijuana, where Ed and Lorrie are legally married. Mason tells Ed where his wife is. Then they go to the Hotel Vista de la Mesa, where Señora Inocente Miguerinio arranges two rooms for them. They get their things from their separate cars, but Garvin doesn't leave his key with the front desk as requested. Mason calls Drake. He reports that Mrs Garvin met an Alman Bell Hackley at a dude ranch. Six weeks, seven, eight, ten, she didn't file for divorce. Then Hackley left, bought property near Oceanside. As they are talking, Drake gets the address. Mason reports to Garvin his findings. He discovers he left his automatic pencil in the phone booth. When he finds it, he hears a woman in the adjacent phone booth thru thin partitions.


A tapping on his door awakens Mason. It is a Mexican boy. "Telefono." It is Drake. His man lost Ethel Garvin. He went to check a license plate and Ethel came out, grabbed a taxi and was off before he could start his car. The desk clerk says she asked for change; a long distance phone call. Mason checks the parking lot; the Mexican boy Pancho is given a tip, and asked to find him if another call comes in. It does; Drake reports his man found Ethel, shot dead, the gun outside her car. He's sent Della to Oceanside, and his operative has done things so the police will be slow in acting. Mason gives Pancho another tip, to give a message to Garvin, and money to pay his bill.


Mason arrives at the crime scene. Drake's man comes to him. One shell was fired from a .38 Smith and Wesson and the other chambers are filled. The ignition switch was off, the headlights off, the gas tank full. No one in town remembers servicing the car. Della joins them. Drake's man continues. The area was a necking place. The Oceanside deputy sheriff calls Drake's man over and Mason sends Della to the airport, phones Drake, who says the gun was purchased by Frank L Bynum. Mason has noted that the windshield of Ethel's car is spattered with dead bugs, indicating it wasn't cleaned when she gassed up, which means she fueled up at a ranch gasoline pump. At the airplane, Della says Ethel was probably wearing a hat when she drove down, but not where she was murdered. A person in the crime scene crowd said a witness in a nearby house saw the car's lights on for five or ten minutes. The pilot takes them into the plane. Back in Los Angeles Della gets the gun information. Bynum gave the gun to his sister. Mason tells Della to call Garvin, get a list of loyal stockholders, then tell him he must stay in Mexico. Mason goes to the Dixieland Apartment Hotel, finds the button for V C Bynum. When the apartment door opens, Virginia Colfax meets the attorney. They argue about the gun. She says it was stolen, he says she had it in her hand on the fire escape. She admits she was spying on the Garvin Mining, Exploration and Development Company because her "mother has every cent of her money invested in that company and [she] was afraid something was going wrong." She asked Denby about the proxies, was shown the first, not the revised one her mother had as signed. She got the idea of using the Drake Detective Agency as a foil to get in to the building without signing-in. She wanted to look at the proxy file, but Denby was in the office all night long. She then admits she didn't throw the gun away, but put it on to the fire escape; it was not there when she went back to get it. After loud knocks, Sergeant Holcomb bursts into the room.


Drake reports. Hackley will be a tough nut. Mrs Garvin was killed about one o'clock. She left her apartment at ten-nineteen. The police think she was killed elsewhere, taken where she was found, where another car was already parked. The driver stepped directly into the adjacent car, pulled Ethel Garvin into the driver's position and drove off. The gun can be traced to Garvin. The day after Mason caught Bynum, Garvin was looking out the window, called Denby over, then Livesey, who retrieved the gun. Livesey then put it in Garvin's car's glove compartment. Paul reports the police checked on Denby who was apparently dictating all night, which fits with Bynum's statement. Garvin, on the phone, asks Mason why he left without waking him up. Mason warns him to stay in Mexico, that loyal stockholders will prevent a takeover. Garvin tells how Livesey put the gun in his car. He checks the car; it is gone. Lorraine says she didn't see it in there when she got him his sun glasses.


Back at the Vista de la Mesa Mason tells Garvin a guy named Smith started a revolt at the stockholder's meeting but it amounted to nothing; the same board of directors was appointed and he was employed s general manager. The then tell this to Lorrie. Garvin is still a bigamist in the states. The murder is described. Mason double checks that Garvin slept through the night. Lorrie states that she heard the hotel clock strike one, and three, and Ed was there. She reasserts that the gun was not there in the glove compartment. It could have been taken out while they were splitting a beer. The hear Señora Miguerinio chatting with someone, giving him the history of the place. He is upset when, asking for Garvin, he is told that Perry Mason is with him and his wife. It is Lieutenant Tragg, who suggests Garvin return to L A to arrange the funeral. Mason interpolates that he'd be arrested on a bigamy complaint. Tragg offers that it was not suicide, that the victim was in the right seat when shot. The murder might even have been committed in L A, then the car driven to Oceanside. It was a one-man job. Tragg wants Garvin back in L A. Mason resists on account of the bigamy charge. Tragg claims he can get Garvin back the hard way on the bigamy charge. Mason points out that under California law, any marriage that is legal in another state is also legal there, and since Mexico recognizes its divorce, the marriage is legal. Garvin was, until this morning, legally married to two women. Mexico won't extradite him. Lorraine chimes in that even if Garvin took the gun, he couldn't have used it, because he was with her, all night. She heard the clock chimes. Tragg takes Garvin's fingerprints.


Mason and Street take a limousine to San Diego where Mason calls Drake, then on to the Oceanside airport where they retrieve their cars. They go to dinner and are joined by Drake for dessert. They go to Hackley's, where a dog bristles at their arrival. Mason talks to the dog, walks to the door and rings the bell. Eventually Hackley arrives, tries to send Mason away until the morning. Mason mentions Ethel Garvin, and the rancher slams the door as the attorney says she was murdered and got gasoline at his place. He lets Mason in, but denies even knowing who Ethel Garvin is. Della is called over, but as soon as Drake puts a foot on the ground the dog's growl sends him back to the car. Hackley orders the dog to stay down, then escorts Drake in to the house. Mason forces the issue regarding Ethel, suggesting Hackley told her to not get a divorce so that eventually they could get a big settlement. Ethel visited him the previous night, and was murdered just down the road. He calls the Oceanside police, thinking Mason is bluffing, learns otherwise. His story is that he never married because settled domesticity doesn't appeal to him. Women liked him, Ethel especially so. He didn't want to hurt her, so he pulled up, left his Nevada place in care of his foreman, came to Oceanside with absolutely no one knowing, bought the ranch that his broker had found. He then ushers the trio out. As they leave, Mason notes the dog had to be brought from Nevada. Maybe neighbor Rolando C Lomax heard him around one o'clock. Lomax says he checked his watch a bit after the dog started barking, and it was twelve twenty-four. Lights came on, soon the dog stopped barking. Hackley is a city type, not friendly. No, he didn't notice any car. When the three are outside, Della shows that she swiped a woman's scarf from Hackley's. It smells of Virginia Bynum's perfume. Then Della pulls out a small woman's hat; Ethel was wearing a hat when she left her apartment, but not when found murdered. Perhaps both women were at Hackley's.


Mason is reasoning with Della. Bynum couldn't have been the on at Hackley's at 12:24 because she was on the fire escape all night. Della is concerned about Livesey; he's "conceited, vain and . . . cruel." Drake arrives with news. A Mortimer C Irving was returning to Oceanside from a poker game, saw and investigated "a big light or tan-colored convertible" parked at the side of the road with its bright lights on. He got home at 12:50. Gertie interrupts with a phone call from Mrs Garvin. She explains how her husband was tricked into crossing the border. She's at a San Diego hotel, and the police want their car. Mason tells her to get tough with the police, refuse to ride with them, say she'll go to the hotel, and when she returns they can have the car. Now Mason plans; he figures the police will take Garvin's car, park it at the crime scene, take Irving there and convince him that's the car he saw. So Mason will put his car there and show it to Irving first! Drake won't cooperate, for he's afraid of losing his license.


Mrs Irving tells Mason her husband got home at ten to one. He's at the filling station. Mason finds him there, offers to pay for his time. Mason gives him a twenty (which covers his fifteen lost gambling) for his time, ten for the other man on duty, and five for the boy at the washrack. They go to where Mason has left his tan convertible, and Irving thinks this is the car he saw, but asks to view it from the other direction. After that, Mason asks him if he can read the license, and he does. When he returns to his car, the San Diego County Deputy Sheriff has arrived with Garvin's, and Holcomb is incensed at Mason's trick. When Mason asks what they are doing with Garvin's car, they say they are looking for fingerprints. Mason leaves with the parting shot that Garvin has a perfect alibi.


San Diego County District Attorney Hamlin L Covington is warned by his deputy Samuel Jarvis that Mason is dangerous. They are gloating at what they have to throw at the great shyster attorney. They are having the Bar Association cite him for the automobile-identification trick. Lawyers, spectators and courtroom attaches fill the courtroom when Judge Harrison E Minden is announced by the bailiff. Jarvis begins impaneling a jury as the Court Clerk calls names. Covington becomes suspicious as Mason asks only vague questions, and Jarvis's and his searching questions leave the jurors believing they want a hand-picked jury, while Mason trusts the jurors. Covington, angered, takes the opening statement away from Jarvis, almost says too much. When he brings up the bigamy, Mason objects that this is an attempt to discredit the defendant and constitutes prejudicial misconduct. Minden agrees. Covington is flustered, says the defendant committed a "dastardly, premeditated, cold-blooded murder." Mason's opening deflates the opposition; "If the court please, and ladies and gentlemen of the jury . . . He can't prove it." Covington calls Drake's man to testify to finding the body. Next, the Oceanside Chief of Police testifies to finding the body and calling in others to help. Expecting Mason to object, they ask what tire "tracks show in regard to two cars having been parked parallel to each other?" When Mason doesn't object the judge has the question repeated. Bit by bit on cross-examination Mason destroy's the Chief's story. How did the tracks show the other car was waiting? The Chief has to eventually admit he was mistaken. A bailiff gives Mason the citation from the Bar Association and Covington and Jarvis privately gloat, but Mason shows no concern. A surveyor produces maps and diagrams. The autopsy surgeon and a friend identify the body. It is time for adjournment. The prosecutors gleefully believe they'll knock the wind out of Mason tomorrow.


Back in court the prosecution brings in the charges of bigamy, introducing documents, and Mason does not object. Virginia Bynum says she left the gun on the fire escape, Livesey tells of bringing it in and putting it in the glove compartment. Denby tells of the gun being brought in and handed to Garvin; he remembered the number with his photographic memory. The La Jolla hotel manager tells of the Garvins' hasty departure. Mason cuts off Covington's drama by admitting he was the third person at the hotel. Señora Inocente Miguerinio testifies to the Garvins staying at her hotel. Howard B Scanlon, a painter, was at the Hotel Vista de la Mesa, trying to phone his wife about ten-ten. He heard Garvin in the adjacent phone booth call Edith Garvin, suggest they meet in Oceanside. He told her he had a lot on her and a man who has a ranch in Oceanside. Mason draws Scanlon out, showing he was coached by the District Attorney, that the lights were dim and Garvin was walking away from him so he didn't see his face, yet under bright lights and the D A's coaching and Garvin the only one in the room, he took several minutes to identify him when he saw him for less than four seconds at the hotel. Mason orders Garvin to smile as the court adjourns for lunch. In the hall, Señora Miguerinio has a clock which the D A wants for evidence; it strikes chimes during the day, but not at night!


Paul, Perry and Della discuss the latest bombshell. Mason notes that Señora Miguerinio may have forgotten to shut off the chimes that night. Drake's operative brings the news that the D A has a witness who put gas and oil in Garvin's car in Oceanside around eleven-thirty. Mason thinks he can beat the Bar Association charge.


Mason speaks to Garvin before court reconvenes. Lorraine lied. He did go to meet Ethel, but she didn't show. He went to Hackley's, but got scared away by the dog. Ethel's car came out of Hackley's drive. Later, when he got to his car, he found Ethel's car and her, dead. Covington calls Irving. He testifies to seeing a car at twelve-fifty that was very similar to Garvin's. Mason asks him about his encounter with his car and gets him to admit he thinks the car he saw was Mason's, but he's been led to realize how impossible it would be to make such an identification . . . by Covington. Carl Otis, a gas station attendant, testifies to servicing Garvin's car around midnight in Oceanside. Mason gets him to admit he saw Garvin head towards Los Angeles, and did not see him return as he was off duty from midnight. Had he gone to L A and not returned until three, he would not know it. This worries Covington, that Garvin might have an L A alibi he doesn't know about. Court adjourns. Mason thinks Irving is an honest witness, looks at his car, and finds a brownish stain on a rubber mat. He conjectures that Lorraine Garvin could have driven his car up to Oceanside, killed Ethel Garvin, and beat Edward Garvin back to the hotel. The gun was in the glove compartment, and Lorraine took it out and put it in her purse.


But Lorraine vehemently denies it, says she's getting her own lawyer, sweeps out. Then Mason gets an idea. Off he, Paul and Della go to Tijuana. They check with Señora Miguerinio as to who rented the last room, and made a phone call to Los Angeles. It was a Miss Virginia Colfax who, at nine fifty-five called Frank Livesey.


Garvin is livid with Mason trying to frame his wife. Mason tells him to "Shut up." Before Covington can call his witness, Mason asks to recall Frank Livesey, first gets him to admit knowing Virginia Bynum, then forcing him to admit to a conversation at nine fifty-five the night of the murder, with Bynum in Tijuana. When asked if he instructed Bynum to take his, Mason's, car and drive it to Oceanside, he remains silent, then refuses to answer on the ground that it would incriminate him. The court recesses for fifteen minutes.


Livesey has seen counsel, and refuses to answer any questions. Covington calls it a cheap frame-up. Mason demands he prove that. Covington elaborates until Mason warns him he'll be held personally responsible. Covington asks a fur-day adjournment. Mason agrees only if he can first recall George Denby. Denby restates that he was working all night the night of the murder. He doesn't know Bynum except for her request to see a stock certificate. Denby identified the gun from its number by way of his photographic memory. Mason gives him his own driving license, asks Denby some questions which require him to look carefully at the document. He takes it away, then asks what is the number and Denby gets it right. Mason springs his trap; "if you have such a photographic memory for numbers how does it happen that when I first asked you, you were unable to remember who it was that owned Certificate Number 123 in the corporation?"


Mason, with Drake and Street, confront Bynum at her hotel. She can no longer claim to have been on the fire escape all night. She fell for Livesey because she's a party girl and Frank give lots of parties. He and Denby had been looting the company and the latter would juggle the books whenever an audit was imminent. Then they got suspicious that someone was tampering with corporation files, so they got her to wait in the fire escape. She discovered that it was Ethel Garvin and followed her to the Monolith Apartments. She reported this to Livesey and Denby, who got the apartment switchboard operator to listen in to her phone calls. They learned of her substitute proxies and had reason to believe she knew of a cash shortage. They stationed her at the border to see if Garvin and his new wife would cross. They did, followed by Mason, and she followed them in a taxi. Mason knew her, Garvin didn't, but she waited until everyone was in bed, then rented the last room. She phoned Livesey. When Garvin went out and drove off in his car, she had to act fast. She got Mason's keys out of the desk, took his car to Oceanside, parked near Garvin who was outside Hackley's. Then Ethel Garvin drove in to Hackley's, soon followed by Denby. He came to her, borrowed her, Mason's, car while she took his and went to Hackley's place. She saw Hackley filling Ethel's gas tank, then saw Garvin sneaking up. She went back to Oceanside where Denby, "very nervous and excited" told her to drive Mason's car fast back to Tijuana to beat Garvin, then in the morning fly back to Los Angeles. There she should claim to have been on the fire escape and assert he was dictating all night. Mason explains, grinning, to Paul that Denby killed Ethel while he had his car. He'd been arranging his alibi a long time, dictating as he could, since nothing identifies when a cylinder was recorded. Perry has Della inform the Bar Association secretary that it was his car from which the murder was committed.

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First Perry Mason Novelette, © 1947;

The Case of the Crying Swallow

Perry Mason


Pete Brady

Della Street


Sidney Elmo

Major Claude L Winnett

Nurse Helen Custer

Oklahoma trailer owner

Marcia Winnett

The handyman

Rental car agent

Mrs Victoria Winnett

Harry Drummond


Daphne Rexford

Tall brunette, aka Mrs Drummond

Sergeant Dorset

The placing of this in the canon of Perry Mason murder mysteries is problematic. It is copyright 1947, two years before The Case of the Cautious Coquette, but it is a novelette, only eleven chapters long. It was printed with The Case of the Cautious Coquette originally, and reissued as if original in 1971 as one of three posthumous Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason novelettes, along with, The Case of the Crimson Kiss (copyright a year earlier in 1947), and The Case of the Irate Witness, another novelette, copyright 1953 by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. Then followed two full posthumous novels, The Case of the Fenced-In Woman and The Case of the Postponed Murder.

One advantage of a novelette is the short cast of characters, with fewer opportunities for Gardner to suggest wild goose chases for us.


Perry Mason is reading a state supreme court decision when Della Street places ten one-hundred-dollar bills on his desk. They go unnoticed until she announces the caller's name is "Mr Cash." Della remembers, she's seen his picture. He's Major Claude L Winnett, millionaire playboy, recently married. Major Winnett, now identified, comes in and gives Mason a letter in which his wife, Marcia, says she's leaving him because "there are some things that I cannot drag you into." He says his "marriage was not exactly in accordance with the wishes of [his] mother." She lives "in a bygone era," in which he should marry within his own set, such as Daphne Rexford. Tuesday night a burglar entered the house and jewelry valued at thirty thousand dollars, once insured for fifteen, has disappeared. The policy was canceled the day before the burglary, which has not been reported to the police. He was wakened by crying swallows, the birds having built a nest on the balcony where they were disturbed by the burglar who climbed up a ladder. Normally the gardener knocks down the nests before eggs are laid. There is a nurse in the house, Helen Custer, because of his mother's heart condition. They agree for Mason, Street and Paul Drake to go to the Winnett estate, as people he's consulting on mining.


The Winnett estate occupied most of a peninsula in the city of Silver Strand Beach. Mason tells Drake that it rained Sunday night, so he might follow tracks of the horse on the bridle path. Della is assigned the nurse. Major Winnett shows Mason the balcony and Swallow's nest. The ladder was left by a handyman; since the servants are well-paid, the Major doesn't worry about an inside job. Mason is certain it is an opportunist. There is a public camp at the end of the peninsula. Since it can be seen from the house, the house can be seen from there. Up in "the tower," binoculars are found turned to be aimed at a "shaded spot." The right eye is negative five diopters. Mason sets this to zero, sees Drake leading his horse along the bridle path.


Mason, alone, goes to Winnett's bedroom, then the nest. Over swallow protests, he reaches in the nest, pulls out "an emerald and diamond brooch." A leather gun case in a closet gives up a shotgun, the barrels of which are holding "rings, earrings, brooches, and a diamond and emerald necklace." On his way out he encounters Mrs Victoria Winnett, who questions the presence of a murder trial lawyer at her home.


Della catches Mason in the patio. She thinks the nurse is in love with the Major, keeps herself looking plain to avoid being sacked. She has found a piece of paper in the tower with numbers in a column 5"5936, 6"8102, 7"9835, 8"5280, 9"2640 and 10"1320, then a line and 49"37817. The last three are feet in a mile, half, and quarter. Drake reports following the tracks to a fence and locked gate. Outside there was a place where a car parked, but three right wheels. Mason asks about a circular spot, eight or ten inches in diameter. A car and trailer, with bucket for waste water.


They look for garbage, find it, noting someone is watching them from the tower. No fresh vegetables, flattened cans. An outdoorsman. They find a cash register receipt. Mason tells Drake to go to town and set up office. What if " is not inches, but ditto marks? The total is not right, but the difference is 4"4704.


Mason checks out the tower. The right eyepiece has been reset to negative five diopters. He is discovered by Mrs Winnett and Daphne Rexford, a brunette in riding clothes, who watches birds from the tower. Mason joins the Major, to whom he shows the brooch he took from the swallow's nest. Drake reports by phone the tracing of the cash register receipt to Harry Drummond, who is also being chased by a tall brunette. Mason waits a while after Drake hangs up, hears a click. The Major says there are five extensions, including the tower.


Drake's headquarters. The license of Drummond's Buick is 4E4705. Versus 4"4704. They are interrupted by Mrs Drummond. She hasn't seen her husband of a year for two months, wants to pool information. He doesn't want to give her anything in a settlement. He was involved in a mining swindle. After she leaves, Drake suggests she's covering Drummond's back trail. The trailer and Buick have been located. They drive to a Silver Strand Trailer Camp, where agent Pete Brady awaits them. Sidney Elmo runs the place. They interview an Oklahoma trailer owner, then move on to their quarry, in which they find a man dead for some time. Mason notices a bullet hole. They return to Oklahoma, who noticed a young woman there at night, redhead, checkered suit, in a rented car. Marcia Winnett, says Mason. Her car backfired.


It takes a while before Drake finds Mrs Drummond. The rental car agent said the woman identified herself as Edith Bascom, and he checked it. Mason goes to the hotel, go to Bascom's room, get no answer. Mason helps Della look thru the transom. She sees a "terribly still" woman. They get the chambermaid to admit them, find Marcia having taken a heavy dose of sleeping pills. They nurse her back to consciousness, learn that Drummond was her first husband after going over how she arranged the theft, putting jewelry into the swallow's nest, leaving a piece behind accidentally, trying to use this to pay off the man. She was surprised to find him in the trailer. She can't remember. Mason has Street take her to a private hospital in Los Angeles, tell them she has amnesia, and get out.


Mason confronts Mrs Winnett who bluffs. "You're a good poker player . . . This is a showdown." He suggests she "found out something about Marcia . . . involved the family good name" and she tried to avoid notoriety. He catches Daphne Rexford listening, She was the one using the binoculars, for she has a bad right eye. He catches her into admitting she watched Marcia at the trailer. The butler answers the phone, Mrs Winnett speaks to Claude, and Mason takes the phone and tells the Major to get there at once.


The Major wants to fire Mason but is caught off guard when the attorney says he put the jewels in the shotgun. Mason suggests he saw the trailer a second time, on Wednesday, went to it and killed Drummond. Marcia followed him, thought he'd killed Drummond. Then he hired a lawyer "who specialized in murder cased, because [he[ knew there was going to be a murder case." When he parked the trailer, he failed to see that the bullet hold now aligned with a window. The Major takes Mason to his room. He saw Marcia go to the trailer Wednesday, but was told about Monday. He went to the trailer, found the man dead, and the jewelry. He took the jewelry, after dark moved the trailer to the park. To throw the police off, he fired two shots in the air. Mason gets a connection; the addition didn't equal 4E4705, but 4E4704; the calls Drake to find that car. At the hotel, they find Helen Custer. She can be an accessory to murder, or just a blackmailer, her choice. She wanted to open a beauty shop, thought Mrs Harry Drummond would help. Mason figures that the only way Mrs Drummond could get money was to "put the heat on Marcia" who was "too conscientious " to ask her husband for the money. So she staged a fake burglary, gave the jewels to Drummond, whose second wife thought they were hot, wrestled with him and shot, probably in self-defense.


Sergeant Dorset receives photos of Marcia Winnett from Mason and Drake. He is skeptical about the amnesia story; he has a report of Mrs Winnett's nurse reporting the murder of a man named Drummond.. Mrs Drummond, when picked up, said it was self-defense and she was being blackmailed by the nurse. There must be a connection with Marcia Winnett. Mason notices the "murder case is county" and Dorset notices that "the amnesia case is city." Neither police force will meddle with the other. Dorset orders "the amnesia case" to be brought up to Mason.

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Second Perry Mason Novelette, © 1948;

The Case of the Crimson Kiss

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Fay Allison

Paul Drake

Barney Sheff

Anita Bonsal


Caroline Manning Grover

Dane Grover

Woman in 701, aka . . .

Judge Randolph Jordan

Aunt Louise Marlow

Three men (Richard P Nolin, Manley L Ogden and Don B Ralston) and a woman (Vera Payson)

Stewart Linn

Carver L Clements

Radio officer

Dr Charles Keene

Taxicab driver

Lieutenant Tragg

Benjamin Harlan

Drake's night operator

Police detective

. . . aka Shirley Tanner

Della Street

Marline Austine Clements

Elevator attendant

Perry Mason

The placing of this in the canon of Perry Mason murder mysteries is problematic. It is copyright 1948, the year before The Case of the Cautious Coquette, but it is a novelette, only eleven chapters long. It was printed with The Case of the Crying Swallow originally, and reissued as if original in 1971 as one of three posthumous Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason novelettes, along with, The Case of the Crying Swallow (copyright another year earlier in 1947), and The Case of the Irate Witness, another novelette, copyright 1953 by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. Then followed two full posthumous novels, The Case of the Fenced-In Woman and The Case of the Postponed Murder.

One advantage of a novelette is the short cast of characters, with fewer opportunities for Gardner to suggest wild goose chases for us. There is only one real character who has nothing to do with the crime, but certainly seems to know who might, in this novelette.


"PREOCCUPATION with her own happiness prevented Fay Allison from seeing the surge of bitter hatred in Anita's eyes." Fay is going to marry Dale Grover tomorrow; he'd first been the beau of Anita Bonsal. Fay is awaiting the arrival of her Aunt Louise. Anita is going out on a date, but actually goes up one flight to the secret apartment of Carver L Clements, who takes her much to cavalierly. She challenges him to commit immediately, but he hedges, worrying his wife will find out and hit him for higher alimony. Clements sends her to wait in his "big, luxurious sedan equipped with every possible convenience." She waits five, then ten minutes, then returns to his apartment, 702. She finds him, "dressed for the street . . . lying sprawled on the floor . . . The print of half-parted lips flared in gaudy crimson from the front of his bald head." She makes certain that the rich playboy is dead, returns to Fay. She prepares a drugged chocolate which causes Fay to fall into deep sleep. She returns to Clements' apartment, puts Fay's clothes, tooth brush and such where her clothes had until then been. Then she returned to her and Fay's apartment, drugs herself to sleep.


Louise Marlow arrives at the Mandrake Arms Apartments earlier than expected, by airplane and taxicab, in the middle of the night, at one o'clock. She takes the elevator to the sixth floor, uses her key to enter Fay's apartment, finds her and Anita unconscious. She gets Anita to semi-consciousness, learns the two girls "drank chocolate," and phones the night operator at the Drake Detective Agency to get Della Street. Della returns the call, says she'll get a doctor over right away; she's been night clubbing with Perry Mason and Paul Drake.


Perry and Della are met by Louise Marlow, who explains the scheduled marriage to Dane, and the drugged chocolate. When Mason suggests that the chocolate cups are evidence, Louise erupts. She doesn't want the police involved. Mason has the girls go through the purses. The doctor reports that the girls will be okey. Della finds a key to 702 in Fay's purse. They go to 702, and the buzzer wakes the woman in 701 who protests their noise-making. Perry and Della quickly duck into 702, find the dead Clements. A glass has rolled along the carpet, another is standing empty on a table. They retreat into the hall just as three men and a woman arrive from the elevator. They go to 702, and the woman in 701 comes out to complain again about the buzzer. The four leave when they hear 702 has company. Mason, now in the lobby, phones Marlow to get the two women to a "sanitarium immediately, and complete quiet." He mails the 702 key to himself. The four visitors drive off quickly when a police car pulls up, but they are brought back. Mason informs the radio officer of the murder, and the woman says they were visiting but didn't get in.


Lieutenant Tragg wearily asks Mason how he got in. "I had a key." Mason is enigmatic to other questions. The deceased has no key on him. Mason notes that, despite ice cubes, Scotch, and soda the fatal drink didn't have any ice in it. A police detective reports that a cleaning mark in a coat has been traced to Fay Allison. As Tragg heads to the elevator, Mrs Carver (Marline Austine) Clements exits it. She is looking for her husband. When told he's dead, she responds "He hated me too much to die."


When Louise answers the door, Mason clues her by acting as if he hadn't seen her before. She tells Tragg neither girl is there, but when he threatens her with newspaper reports she points him to the Crestview Sanitarium.


Paul Drake gives his notes to Mason. Fay and Dane were going to get married today. Last night Fay and Anita celebrated with hot chocolate, Fay getting a double dose of barbiturate. Fay didn't wake up until she was in the sanitarium. Tragg has found Allison's fingerprints on one glass, while the murder glass had been wiped clean of fingerprints. Fay's clothes and personal things are around the apartment. Dane Grover is standing by Fay. The police think Fay poisoned Clements to get free to marry Grover, was planning to move things out of his apartment while Anita was gone, but she returned early, and something went wrong when she tried to drug her. Clements was hiding out from his wife to avoid a bigger property settlement in their divorce. The key, says Mason, is Clements' missing key.


Dane Grover comes to Mason. He says the gardener at his place, Barney Sheff, a rehabilitated criminal, uses cyanide of potassium. Mason wonders "if you have fully explored the possibilities of orchid growing" until Grover catches on. He says his mother is embarrassed, but her feelings don't enter into the situation. He tosses an envelope with money on the desk, leaves. Drake reports that Dane's mother, Caroline Manning Grover, has given the police a tip-off on Sheff.


Della finds Perry pacing the floor at nine o'clock and tries to get him to go out for dinner. He has a desk littered with photographs, but he cannot find a useful clue. They go to dinner. He discusses Marline Austine Clements. Swept off her feet by Carver, she later found herself to be only his Legal chattel. How could the four they met in the hall gotten through the front door? Back in the office, it strikes Mason that ice melts, leaving water, yet none was in the woman's glass.


Judge Randolph Jordan calls the court to order and Stewart Linn answers for the prosecution. Dr Charles Keene describes his examination of the death. Benjamin Harlan testifies to fingerprints. Mason asks if the lip print is not as unique as a finger print, and has he not checked to see if the defendant's lips match the print on Clements' forehead? He hasn't. He does. They don't match. Don B Ralston testifies to seeing Mason and Street coming from 702. Mason asks how they got in the front door; he says Mason let them in, then, when pressed, that someone pressed "the button which released the electric door catch on the outer door." They stayed a minute or two in the lobby before taking the elevator up. Shirley Tanner, the woman in 701, testifies to seeing Mason when she was wakened from a difficult sleep. Then she saw four people at the door. On cross, Mason "clapped his notebook against Shirley Tanner's face." Though in possible contempt of court, he has Harlan check the sip print. Tanner's "knees buckled."


Mason declares that Fay Allison is either innocent or guilty. If innocent, someone framed her, and only one person had the opportunity. He calls Anita Bonsal to the stand. Anita runs, out of the courtroom, down the stairs, into the elevator whose attendant asks her what her hurry is, to another floor where she goes into a courtroom to hide anonymously, only then realizing she had admitted her guilt.


Back in the courtroom, Mason examines Tanner. She sub-leased 701 to spy on Clements, furious he had another mistress. She poisoned her whiskey, because Carver got furious when she drank. He snatched the glass from her and drained it. She took his key, to come back and arrange things after he was dead. She expected Anita to call the police when she went in, but the police didn't come. She answered the group of four's buzzer, went to her apartment when the elevator arrived quicker than they could have gotten up. It was Mason and Street. She loved Clements, then hated him, killed him, and got caught. Mason explains how he figured it out to prosecuting attorney Linn. As Mason turns to Fay, "What's happened to your lipstick?" Dane Grover's mouth was "streaked diagonally with a huge red smear." Case dismissed, court adjourned.

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Thirty-fourth Perry Mason Novel, © 1949;

The Case of the Cautious Coquette

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Perry Mason

Stephen Argyle

Barton building witness, aka . . .

Paul Drake

Carlotta Boone

Frank P Ingle, insurance agent

Bob Finchley

Daniel Caffee

. . . aka Carl Ebert Goshen

A hit and run driver, aka . . .

Garage attendant

Officer with Tragg


Doorman, Broadway Athletic Club

Jerry Lando

Drake's secretary

Dudley Gates

Janitor in Mason's building

A messenger

Anita Jordan

Stout landlady

Lucille Barton

Sam, night elevator operator

Sergeant Holcomb

Barton's male companion, aka . . .

Lieutenant Tragg


Della Street

Hospital nurses

Blade reporter and photographer

Mrs Finchley

Supervising nurse

Hamilton Burger

Willard Allison Barton

Argyle's insurance adjuster

Judge Osborne

Ross P Hollister

Friend of Pitkin

Sadie Milford


Drake operative

Service Station operator

. . . aka Arthur Colson

Roscoe R Hansom

Orville Nettleton

. . . aka Hartwell L Pitkin

Drake's Santa del Barra operative

Mason is still smoking cigarettes. "Swell" is still in Gardner's vocabulary.

The Foreword and dedication to the Cardinal edition of THE CASE OF THE CAUTIOUS COQUETTE is "to the greatest underdog of all in the field of public relations: The Parole Board"

Even if one is used to Perry Mason mystery novels, this is a bit more than unusually complex.


"Promptly at 9 o'clock, Perry Mason joined Paul Drake for breakfast." Drake has placed an ad in the Blade with a $100 reward for information leading to the identification of a car involved in a hit and run. Bob Finchley has a broken hip from the accident. A waiter informs Drake his secretary has a reply. A messenger delivers it, the waiter brings it. There is a key and a letter from "A FRIEND," which identifies the woman who saw the accident as Lucille Barton; the man is unknown. A notebook in a writing desk has the license plate of the hit-and-run driver. It is entirely typewritten, a two-finger job, lots of speed. They agree it is some sort of trap.


Della Street has arranged Mason's mail. He has her place the new letter on top of the "important" pile. In discussing the accident, Della decides the hit-and-run driver will claim Mrs Finchley hit him. Mason has Della type a copy. She's certain the original is hunt-and-peck, on a portable typewriter.


Mason finds the apartment building, lets himself in, finds Lucille Storla Barton's apartment, gets no answer, opens the door, hears running water. He waits some two minutes, tries again, and gets an answer. Lucille Barton admits Mason, then goes to dress. Mason finds the writing desk locked. He notices a portable typewriter, gets permission to type a memo, finds stationery the same as the note, types a memo. Barton joins him with coffee, soft-boiled egg, toast. Mason queries about the accident and she denies any involvement though she cannot remember exactly what she was doing at the specified time. She's not working at any particular job. Alimony. $200 a week. Willard Allison Barton has tried to get it reduced once, but she wants to threaten him with an increase, even though she's about to marry again and will lose it all then. She doesn't want her prospective husband Ross Hollister to think she's marrying him for his money. Though he's set money aside for her on their marriage, she wants Hollister's respect and love, yet he'll think her a golddigger if he learns her financial boat is about to spring a leak. She wants Mason to see her ex-husband at the Broadway Athletic Club where he lives, but not let him know who she is marrying, for Hollister is also a member of the club. She also had a first husband who is still alive. Mason says she deserves a medal for ingenuity, for getting him there where, had he come not now but between two and five as the typed note suggested, she'd have him at a disadvantage and could get him to do her bidding. "Bait another trap and try another lawyer, Mrs Barton."


Della Street and Paul Drake tease Perry about the "virtuous, maidenly, virginal, vestal, upright, moral, worthy, honorable . . ." lady who trapped the great attorney. Mason explains how he was admitted, got a sample of stationery and the typewriter, which they check; it matches the first note. Gertie brings in another; it apologizes for the desk being locked, includes a key to the desk. Lucille Barton arrives, with Arthur Colson. They explain they were together all day. She works for him, part time, two to five. He had a day off and they went to a movie which lasted until almost five, when they went to a cocktail lounge. When Lucille mentions that Arthur is an inventor, he perks up, says "It's better not to discuss these things." They went to dinner at Murphy's, then went too her home, staying to 12:30 (Colson), 11 (Lucille), quickly changed to 12:30. Mason asks them to dictate the day's events to Della, wait for her to type it, and sign it. Then he goes out to Lucille's.


At a near-by to the apartment cigar stand Mason checks with Della on the phone; she assures him he will have fifteen minutes. He goes in to Lucille's and finds the notebook with a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber pistol. He notes the pistol number and the license number. He leaves, phones Della to give the okey, then calls Drake with the license plate number. Drake reports that it belongs to Stephen Argyle. At Argyle's, Mason is delayed by the chauffeur, but sees the man, who is "surprised beyond words." He admits he could be liable if he allowed his car to be used, but it was stolen, about 3, reported at 7, and found. He was at the Broadway Athletic Club.


Mason tells Drake he wants to know everything about Argyle. A playmate has come to collect the $100 reward. Mason goes to his office, where Della warns him she is not what he expects. Carlotta Boone takes the license number from her purse; it is different from Argyle's. Mason phones the number to Drake. Boone gives a full account of her and her boyfriend having a flat tire and seeing the crash just as they were ready to go. She's afraid of trying blackmail, would rather take the $100.. She says she'll be in touch. Drake identifies the gun as belonging to Daniel Caffee. Mason and Street go chasing a red herring.


Perry agrees with Della that Carlotta is a golddigger who had intended blackmail. When a garage attendant spies them, Mason says he's looking to buy Caffee's Packard. It has a new rear panel. His wife drives a little coupe. They go to the apartment and, when Mason directly states that Caffee's automobile smashed into a Ford coupe, the man confesses rather quickly. He felt certain he injured no one. He doesn't want his wife to find out. He says his insurance company will make a generous settlement, and he'll make out a check for $10,000. Mason says make it to Robert L Finchley. When Mason phones Drake to call his men off Argyle, Drake says Argyle showed up at the Broadway Athletic Club at seven o'clock, paid the doorman $100 to say he'd been there since noon and phone in a stolen car report. Argyle's wife left him six months earlier. He has two associates, Dudley Gates and Ross P Hollister, who is rich Mason tells Drake that Caffee has given him a written confession and check. Drake gasps in astonishment.


Mason sends Della back to the office to report to Drake. At Argyle's home the big Buick is no longer in the driveway, so he heads to Lucille Barton's, parks at a distance, then goes to her garage, which he checks just enough to be sure no car is in it. He phones Della that Lucille is out in her car, he's going to find the notebook. She tells him Argyle is in the waiting room having kittens. He told his butler/chauffeur not to wait. Mason goes to the apartment, inside he finds the desk open, the pigeonhole empty of both notebook and gun. Someone is showering, and the a revolver is on a bathroom stool. Mason calls out, and soon is joined by Barton. Then he goes to her bedroom, takes the gun out of her purse, empties the cylinders. She says the gun was given her by Hollister. She doesn't have a phone, so doesn't know where he is. As to Arthur Colson, he's an inventor who makes gadgets and works with black light and such. She's financing him. He's lonely, so sometimes she helps him relax. He likes Anita Jordan. She then admits that a Hartwell L Pitkin has threatened to kill her. She married him when eighteen, lived with him less than three years. She ran away, changed her name and got a divorce. Now Hartwell has found her; he's working for Stephen Argyle(!). She explains the mix of old and good furniture; Hollister wants to keep his place in Santa del Barra and this place, so bit by bit he's upgraded her apartment. His "snooty old housekeeper" keeps track. She called her to check on delivery because he left town to secretly lease land.


Mason and Lucille Barton head out of the building, and she sees her car across the street, with the keys in it. He tells her to drive it to the garage, heads there, opens the garage door. Lucille's car's headlights shine inside, on a dead body. Each accuses the other of a frame-up. Then they realize the body is that of Hartwell Pitkin.


Mason tells Lucille that she has to notify the police. She's hesitant, but Mason forces to the telephone booth. He rushes out as she drops a coin in the telephone. He phones Della, who says Argyle left five minutes earlier. Argyle went to his chauffeur an hour before.


Mason tells Della that Argyle's chauffeur was Hartwell Pitkin, whose body is now in Lucille Barton's garage. Mason calls Drake to identify gun S65088. Mason expects the police to call, so goes out to dinner where they cannot find him. On their return, Sam the night elevator operator, says no one is looking for him. Drake's report is inconclusive. Mason decides to see Finchley, tells Della to give the police, probably Lieutenant Tragg, all she knows.


Hospital nurses are busy with evening activities when Mason comes upon the supervising nurse, who says his patient was worried about the bills until this afternoon when the man who hit him came in and paid up. Bob Finchley tells Mason the same thing, and that he signed papers, since they would pay Mason a reasonable sum. Mason thinks it is Caffee, but it is Argyle. As Mason looks over the signed document, "a slow grin came over his features." Bob says Argyle did try to reach Mason from the hospital. Mason tells him he did all right, tells him to endorse the checks so he can deposit them for him. Then he tells Bob that the insurance company is so scared of liability that their release denies their policy holder inflicted the injury, which is all right, because their policy holder didn't inflict the injury.


Back at the office, Della is pounding the typewriter. Mason worries that the police haven't come looking for him, but is elated by the settlement. He thinks Argyle's chauffeur must have hit someone, and got his boss worried. So Argyle and a young insurance adjuster found Finchley. Pitkin, thinks Drake and Della and Perry stop on the way out, was a blackmailer. A friend of Pitkin had the pressure put on him by one of Drake's operatives. Mason tells him to take his men off Argyle. They go to Lucille Barton's, but there is no crowd, no police cars. They drive to the garage, Mason uses a flashlight to look inside, runs back to his car. "We're hooked."


As they drive away, Mason tells Street that Lucille didn't report the police, and now there's a gun beside the body. Someone must be masterminding this, probably Arthur Colson. Lucille will probably come home with Anita Jordan, have her open the garage. He should have been more careful about the report. He's hooked, he'll have to take Lucille Barton as his client to make anything she said to him privileged.


Drake awaits Mason's arrival, studiously avoiding Mason's eyes when he enters the office. Mason has seen the papers; Pitkin committed suicide. Drake says Lucille Barton found the body with a girl friend. Roscoe R Hansom of the Rushing Creek Mercantile Company sold the S65088 revolver to Ross P Hollister. The gun with which Pitkin was killed had the numbers rubbed off with emery paper, all except one, under the wooden grip. It was S65088. The police will catch up with his Santa del Barra operative, and Mason will have some explaining to do. No one heard the shot, so the police looked around and found a witness who described a woman in a plaid coat and a man in a light topcoat, with a car that was backfiring, around six o'clock. He's identified Lucille Barton as the woman. A right index fingerprint was found on the gun. The police, says Drake, found $5000 in Pitkin's pockets. The money had been taken from the bank by Dudley Gates. Drake and Mason share information already discovered by one or the other. By time, Pitkin could have reached Barton's garage at the time of backfiring. Drake gives Mason a photograph of the print, leaves. Mason inks his right index finger, presses it on paper. Della realizes it matches the photo.


Daniel Caffee arrives with his insurance company representative, Frank P Ingle, who tries to flimflam Mason. The attorney demands a total of $14,000 from Caffee. He and Ingle consult privately, then Caffee agrees to add $4000 to what he's already paid and settle by himself with the insurance company.


Drake reports that, though Hollister's name is on the gun register, it is someone else's handwriting. Lucille Barton is playing around with Arthur Colson, and Hanson has identified him as the one who actually bought the gun. There's another problem, blood was found underneath the gun.


In the elevator a Drake operative passes a card to Mason. It reads "C B CAME IN. GOT CHECK $100. LOTS OF VISITORS&emdash;OFFICIAL&emdash;WAITING." Lieutenant Tragg is awaiting Mason with Lucille Barton and Arthur Colson. Tragg asks Mason where he was at six o'clock and the attorney cannot remember. Why was he interested a gun that was going to figure in a murder case? He wasn't. When did he become acquainted with Barton? Yesterday. He has Della show Tragg the issue of the Blade with the ad, then Lucille's letter. Mason is representing Lucille Barton. Tragg presses on, but Mason resorts to "privileged communication" to remain silent. Tragg has a witness who saw two people at the garage, one already identified as Lucille Barton. Carl Ebert Goshen is brought in, says he has to see Mason up and walking. Tragg tries to force this, but Mason refuses to stand, and points out this is not a lineup, so is not accurate. Tragg has an officer get Mason's topcoat out of the closet; the only coat is a heavy black coat that Mason had never seen before. Goshen is positive that it is not the coat. Tragg asks where Mason got the lead on Argyle, and Mason tells him that he keeps "asking questions which are predicated on false premises." The actual accident involved Daniel Caffee. Tragg is flustered. He asserts Mason was at Barton's garage at six and Pitkin was a blackmailer, and Lucille Barton has admitted she was with him. Lucille Barton, having heard all Mason has said, offers that she didn't say she was with Mason at six. He admits seeing her in the morning. Tragg tries to get Mason to stand up so he can get his fingerprint. Mason again declines, Goshen is asked to step outside. Della gives Mason cream to clean his hands without standing up. Tragg informs Mason that his fingerprint is on the murder weapon. Mason springs the second letter on Tragg, admitting he went to Barton's when she wasn't there, but using the key provided by Lucille Barton to enter the apartment. He saw a gun. Barton couldn't have been carrying that gun since she was in her office at that time. Mason has gotten all the information he wants Lucille Barton to know over to her now, and Tragg realizes it, even as Mason reminds Barton so say nothing, so has her and Colson taken out. Tragg questions Mason on the Argyle settlement, which is obviously incorrect, but Mason says he's not giving the money back. Tragg has threatened Mason with newspaper headlines, now he cannot assure Mason that the district attorney will go along with any help he give Mason. He says his witness will identify Mason somehow, for Mason will have to leave the building. When he's gone, Della says she took his topcoat to Drake's and brought back his overcoat when Gertie overheard them talking in the reception room! Mason raises her salary $100 a month.


Mason reads newspaper headlines. "LAWYER'S FINGERPRINT FOUND ON MURDER WEAPON&emdash;ATTORNEY REFUSES TO STAND SO WITNESS CAN MAKE IDENTIFICATION . . . BEAUTIFUL DIVORCEE ARRESTED IN MYSTERIOUS MURDER . . . LAWYER POSSESSED KEY TO SUSPECT'S APARTMENT." Mason calls it a smear, reveals why he gave Tragg the two letters. He wasn't clearing Lucille Barton, but giving Tragg something to worry about. Hollister is about the same build as Mason, Gates is not, so there is one other possibility for Goshen to identify. Hollister and Gates left together about six Monday. Mason arranges with Drake to stay in his office, yet make everyone think he's slipped out through the basement.


Drake's office. He tells Mason the ruse worked; the reporters followed the packing case they sent to his garage where they found it empty. Goshen's gone. And Hollister's car has been found ten and two-tenths miles above Santa del Barra. On the road to Rushing Creek. Mason asks for someone his height and a group of photographers to be provided by Drake.


Jerry Lando joins Mason in Drake's office, where the attorney gives Drake instructions. Then Mason surprises the janitor when he and Lando head down in the elevator. They drive until they find a suitable motel of cabins, and Lando gets one at the rear. A stout landlady leads then, shows Lando the place, leaves. The go to a service station, phone Drake to send the camera men out then, ten minutes later, phone Sergeant Holcomb with a tip, followed by a call to the Blade.


Drake's photographers arrive and Mason instructs them. Holcomb arrives, is blinded by flash bulbs. Mason, in Drake's black coat and with Speed Graphic over one arm stands by the police car. A figure comes running out of the cabin, covers his face with a hat as "flashlights blazed into brilliance." Holcomb prompts Goshen to identify the man as the one he saw at Lucille Barton's. Holcomb leaves, chuckling. Mason dismisses his photographers. A reporter and a photographer from the Blade arrive, and Mason has them take pictures of himself and Lando.


Tragg walks in on Mason, announces that Goshen has identified him. Holcomb's mad at the Blade because they only showed photos of Mason. Tragg is not satisfied with Holcomb's account, photographers but no reporters, and only the Blade got the story. There is no trace of Hollister, just his car. Gates went to Honolulu Monday instead of with Hollister. Mason gives Tragg the hint that Hollister's car might have been headed downhill, not uphill. Tragg gets the hint and hurries out. Della says Mason virtually promised Tragg he'd make Holcomb wish he hadn't bragged about the identification. She got that impression, so Tragg must have, too.


Drake calls Mason on his unlisted number. Hollister's body has been found, by Tragg, uphill of the car crash. Shot with a .45 automatic. The body was "wrapped in canvas and trussed up with the knee pulled up across the chest, the head drawn forward, and the shoulders tied to the knees." Hollister's watch stopped at 5:55, the car clock at 6:21. No money in his pockets. Probably a hitchhiker. Tragg got lots of kudos. Paul doesn't think they found any baggage.


Court. Hamilton Burger is taking charge of the preliminary hearing. Judge Osborn presides. Burger immediately launches into an attack on Mason, claiming that he's handicapped their investigation. Mason demands he prove it and he won't make a single objection. Osborn stops the insults from Burger. Tragg is called, identifies how the body of Pitkin was found, identifies the gun with S65088 marked on it. A paraffin test showed that the decedent had not fired a gun. Mason's fingerprint was found on the gun. Burger tells Osborn that Mason admitted to seeing the gun in the defendant's apartment. Mason corrects; "A gun." Burger argues that Mason refused to be identified. Answering the judge's curiosity as to why he doesn't object, Mason says he doesn't want insinuation and innuendo to ruin his reputation, so he is "throwing the doors wide open." He wants all the facts brought out. Tragg continues; He took Goshen out of the building, then Mason sneaked out in a packing case. During his cross-examination, Mason corrects Tragg, telling him that he and Jerry Lando went out of the building together, which can be checked with the janitor. Burger calls Holcomb. The sergeant gleefully tells of how he trapped Mason into being identified by Goshen. In a very lengthy cross, Mason gets Burger to identify two photos showing him and Goshen in the police car, then three photos showing "Mason" coming out of the cabin. Holcomb claims the flashing lights did not blind him. Mason then shows photo 5, the profile of "Mason," to be of someone else, and it is himself as the photographer next Burger in photo 2. Holcomb is discredited. Mason now asks to hear Mr Goshen, but Burger asks for a recess. Mason calls his bluff, opposes. Burger calls Roscoe R Hansom. He identifies Arthur Colson as the one who bought the murder weapon. The judge reminds the District Attorney that he "promised, in fact, [he] threatened . . . bragged that [he was] going to put this witness on the stand . . ." and Burger reluctantly calls Goshen. He explains how he identified Lucille Barton out his window, but he can't identify the man. Mason gets him to admit that he though he saw the same man again, and did identify him, because Holcomb had told him the man he saw at the garage was Mason. His identification of Barton could be just as flawed.


Lucille tells Mason that he's wonderful, but he points out that she had $20,000 insurance on Hollister who is dead. Also, unless she has a satisfactory reason for not phoning the police when the body was discovered, she'll be convicted of murder. She blurts out that it wasn't Colson who masterminded things, but husband Willard Barton. She asserts Colson is like a brother, and he never met Hollister. Mason warns her she'll have to explain his fingerprint on the gun. "Don't worry, I'll explain it" she says, smiling cunningly.


Hamilton Burger calls Willard Barton to the stand. He states he's paying Lucille $200 a month. On the eve of the 5th they met at the Broadway Athletic Club at 6:30. She was in trouble, asked for $15,000 immediately so she could leave the country. He got her down to $10,000, but she never got back to him. Mason gets him to admit that he knew Pitkin because he wanted a part-time chauffeur, and was pointed to the Chauffeur's Exchange. Also, he was eager to settle, but then lied to get the price down. Further, under pressure, he says he didn't help Lucille. Arthur Colson refuses to answer most questions on the grounds of self-incrimination. He didn't know Pitkin, he didn't have a key to Lucille Barton's apartment.


Sadie Milford, manager of Lucille Barton's apartment house, is called by Hamilton Burger, to testify to giving two keys each to the garage and apartment to Lucille Barton. Then a service station operator testifies that a little after six on the eve of the fifth he had reset the timing on Lucille Barton's car. Stephen Argyle states he employed Hartwell, and last saw him at five on the day of his murder in front of Mason's office. He is angry at Mason for defrauding him. Mason cross-examines. He didn't see the car when he returned home after 9:30, but it was there about two o'clock the next morning. He wasn't driving the car when it supposedly hit Finchley, his chauffeur, who had been drinking and who lied abut the car being stolen, was responsible. He was in Mason's office from five to six, after which his insurance agent joined him and they went to the hospital and paid-off Finchley behind that man's attorney's back. He then bribed the doorman at the Club? No, he tipped him, a hundred dollars! Mason asks why Pitkin might have admitted the hit-and-run if he wasn't actually involved. He doesn't know, but he thinks Pitkin was a blackmailer. Mason hands him a list of fifteen names, asks Pitkin to identify any he recognizes. It is going to take time. During a short recess, Mason gets Tragg aside, is thanked for his cross of Holcomb, then suggests the lieutenant should take a ride with him. Burger says Argyle has told him the list is of stockholders and he needs to get documents to check them, so he's asking for a recess, to which Mason agrees.


Tragg has parked his car in sight of Argyle's house. Mason reminds him that, when they found Hollister's car, certain things were missing for a long trip, namely baggage. The position Hollister was in suggests, admits Tragg, that the body was jammed into a trunk. Argyle comes speeding to his house. Mason suggest the radio be checked. When Argyle returns to his car, Mason suggests closing-in on him with the siren on. Argyle hits fifty in the thirty-five zone. Tragg still won't put the siren on, so Mason does, and Tragg quickly turns it off, but it got Argyle's attention. A chase ensues, and the police car under Tragg's direction takes corners better than Argyle, who spins out when a car shots out from an intersection.


Paul, Della and Perry relax in Mason's private office. The attorney explains the overly-complicated plotting of the crime. Argyle and Gates were associated with Hollister in oil deals. The two started double-crossing Hollister, and he caught them, called them to his place Monday. Gates had purchased a ticket to Honolulu, had paid Pitkin to travel the first leg under his name, which gave him an alibi. When Hollister exposed them, Gates shot him. He and Argyle rolled the body into the canvas, stuffed him into his car, and drove Hollister's and Argyle's cars up the road, dumped the body and the car, after smashing the wrist watch at 5:55 and the car clock at 6:21. Gates set his alibi by phoning himself at San Francisco airport on Hollister's phone, with Pitkin answering. When Hollister was shot, he fell on an expensive, if small, Oriental rug. They removed it. The housekeeper wired Lucille the next day to find out if the rug had been sent her. Lucille "replied that she had the rug Hollister had intended she should have" which satisfied the housekeeper until after Hollister was found dead. Argyle rushed back, Pitkin flew back, and Gates went to San Francisco and flew on to Honolulu. Pitkin decided to find why he had been paid a huge chunk of money to build an alibi and thereby collect blackmail, so Argyle had to kill him. Argyle saw the ad, realized he could create a real alibi by pretending to be the hit-and-run driver, who hit and ran when he was in Santa del Barra. He sent the letter to Drake with his duplicate key. He put a new tire on the right rear, dented and painted the fender. Then Argyle substitutes a rented chauffeur for Pitkin outside his office, sent him to Detroit, then Mexico right after so he'd never see the papers about the murder. He got Pitkin to Barton's garage - Pitkin hadn't yet found out where she lived - and had him adjust the timing on her car so it would back fire, and he could shoot him unnoticed. He drove the car to the street and parked it, leaving the keys in it, went back to the garage and locked it, went to Lucille's apartment and put the gun in her desk. Then, with his rented chauffeur, he came to this office. When Mason didn't look him up, he knew the desk must have been locked, so he sent the other duplicate key special delivery. Lucille didn't want to call the police until she had settled with Willard Barton, but he got the truth out of her and suggested she plant the gun. The list given Argyle was not of "stockholders," but of men who hired as chauffeurs, butlers and general handymen; one turned out to be the Detroit man, Orville Nettleton, who was discovered when Tragg went over the list. Della notes that her boss didn't make any money on the case, but he counters that he "certainly made a killing on Finchley's case." Perry gets rid of Paul, and he and Della head out to celebrate.

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Thirty-fifth Perry Mason Novel, © 1950;

The Case of the Negligent Nymph

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Perry Mason

Mrs Brawley, jail matron

Claud Gloster

George S Alder

Carl Jackson

Court clerk

A Negligent Nymph in water . . .

Judge Lankershim

Jury of 7 men, 5 women

Speedboat men

Vincent Colton

Autopsy surgeon Jackson B Hilt

Minerva Danby

Various Drake operatives


George Nathan Alder, deceased

Sally Bangor

Court matron

Corrine Lansing

Monadnock night clerk (Ronald Dixon)

Newspaper reporters

Dorley H Alder

Technical expert (guns)


Carmen Monterrey

County Sheriff Leonard C Keddie

Monadnock night housekeeper

. . . aka Dorothy Fenner

Fat, guitar-playing Mexican

Oscar Linden

Cora Lansing

Harry Frink

Sam Durham

Jack Lansing

Carmen's aunt

Newspaper reporter

Pete Cadiz

Patrons of the Mex restaurant


Della Street

Mexican waitress

Mine detector experts

Motorcycle officer

Two officious-looking men

Hartley Essex

Several officers

Judge Garey

The edition of this mystery book in my collection is copyright 1949, 1950, but was printed much later as part of the Black's Reader's Service series of Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason novels. It includes a Foreword dedicating the book to Argosy magazine's "Court of Last Resort" and the people involved in their project to free those innocent of crimes for which they were convicted.

This novel features one of the longest opening chapters of the Mason mysteries.

Here, for the first time, we learn Jackson's first name, Carl.


Perry Mason, in a rented canoe, survey's the island fortress estate of George S Alder where, this evening, a party is being held. He "suddenly became conscious of a swimmer." The nymph climbs out of the water, dries herself and puts on clothes from a waterproof bag that she was carrying on her back. Then, with easy assurance, she walks to the house. For well over a quarter hour Mason waits, then abruptly a dog barks, lights flashed on in some back rooms of the Alder mansion, and the nymph slips out a window, runs to the water, followed shortly by a Doberman pinscher. Fully clothed in her gown, she starts swimming, with the dog following. Mason intervenes, pushing the dog with his canoe paddle, eventually turning the dog back to shore. The swimmer drops something in the canoe, climbs in, tells Mason to "paddle like hell!" Mason asks her to "square things" and, stalling, she asks to get her breath, take her to her little yacht, the Kathy-Kay. They spar until the sound of speedboat and its occupants shouting spur Mason to head to her boat. There ensues a cat and mouse game, Mason ducking his canoe behind one yacht, then another, as the speedboat circles the other side. At the Kathy-Kay they tuck the canoe inside, the nymph changes into a housecoat. They use blankets to cover the portholes so, with a flashlight, they can look at what is inside the bottle that the nymph has stolen from Alder. It is a letter from Minerva Danby "Somewhere off Catalina Island." In it, she states she is worried about her safety, so tells her story. George Adler's father left his stock in a trust, to Corrine Lansing and George S Adler. Dorley H Adler was given voting power of one third of the stock and a guaranteed life income. Ten shares of stock went to Carmen Monterrey, Corrine's maid. She joined them in South America as her nurse. Eventually, she learned, Corrine had threatened to kill her if she left her. She escaped, claiming a family emergency back in the states. Corrine disappeared a day later. She and Adler became close, but just before leaving on a cruise with him, she found Corrine Lansing in a mental hospital. When she told Adler, he made certain she had told no one else. Then George locked her into her cabin. Now Fenner says that Danby was washed overboard and drowned. She's elated at having the letter, as she is related to Corrine; her mother was sister to Cora Lansing, who married Jack Lansing. They had one child, Corrine. Divorce; Cora married Samuel Nathan Alder. They had one son, George S. Mason points out that if she makes the letter public, she admits theft. Dorothy Fenner now identifies herself to Mason (who never identifies himself to her). Uncle Dorley led to Pete Cadiz, a beachcomber, who found the bottled letter. They copy the letter on a portable typewriter. Mason tells her to return the letter to George Alder with apologies.


Mason reminds Fenner to get the bottle back to Alder and "tell him a witness has seen the letter and has a copy" and rows off to shore. No on was at the landing, but Della Street awaited him in his car. She says Alder's house was robbed of $50,000 in jewelry and repeats the radio report. Mason admits he was the robber's male accomplice. As to his case, natural and accretion belongs to the adjacent landholder, but governmental accretion to the government. Mason is motioned over by a motorcycle officer, then one asks for his documents, checks Della, sends them around the waiting cars. As they drive away, Mason has Della read the letter. He's worried that it may be a plant. "'You have a way of determining events,' she pointed out."


Della is on the phone with Mrs Brawley when Perry walks in. She has called because Dorothy Fenner wants an attorney, Mason. They decide to send their law clerk, Carl Jackson, to get to the Las Alisas jail, get a judge to inquire into the real property that was stolen before bail is set. Next is Paul Drake; will he look into the Minerva Danby case, and don't be afraid to let people know it is being investigated. Get a complete background on Alder. Then he tells Della to get in touch with the surety company regarding bail for Fenner.


Jackson admits he failed to get bail set. Judge Lankershim will take up the question at four o'clock. The defendant knows Mason only by reputation. She wants the best, but has limited resources. She says she didn't steal any jewelry. He is "not favorably impressed with this young woman. She acts guilty . . ." Vincent Colton is handling the case for the D A. Jackson cannot remember the color of Fenner's eyes, let alone if she is pretty, but has a case to quote when Mason puts him on to the problem of accretion. Mason goes to the Las Alisas jail. Fenner is, of course, surprised when she sees Mason is her canoe saviour. She says that, after the attorney left, she concealed the bottle in the drinking water tank. She went ashore, had breakfast and read the newspaper account of the theft. Then she went back to her yacht to get the bottle, and it was gone. Mason tells her that their truth won't stand up. He tells her the story of an American businessman being sued in a foreign country for taking large loan and not paying it back. The American's attorney let five witnesses testify to this in court. Then he calmly put on seven who said they saw him take the money and then pay it back. There is no moral to this story, "it's an 'immoral,'" says Mason. He will get her out by dinnertime.


Judge Lankershim ends one case and takes up the bail issue. Mason says there is little likelihood of flight, but Colton says she could easily skip out, and bail should be the amount of the theft. Mason says he doesn't think any jewelry was taken. Colton admits Alder is making a list of stolen items, in his office. The evidence linking Fenner to the crime is a bath towel which anyone who could steal $50,000 of jewelry could also have stolen. Mason agrees that bail be set at exactly whatever was stolen. Alder is brought to the courtroom, asserts "approximately fifty thousand dollars." Mason brings in the question of insurance, an all-purpose policy plus one on the jewelry. Mason asks Adler to tell him "one item of jewelry, just one item, mind you, that's covered in that specific insurance policy and which was taken from your house in this burglary." Then one thing not covered in the jewelry policy, but the all-purpose policy. "A rather expensive Swiss wrist watch." Then if he claimed this, and it was not taken, he'd be guilty of perjury. Mason goes to work to whittle down how much was stolen, and Alder slips and mentions the bottle. Eventually Alder angrily states, "I don't know anything was taken." When Judge Lankershim wants to know why a man would claim such a loss if there were none, Mason says, "he wanted the defendant apprehended." This serious charge is followed by the statement that Dorothy Fenner is going to sue for defamation of character. Shouldn't they go immediately to Alder's and do an inventory. Alder says it would not be convenient. The judge sets bail at $2500. Colton tells Alder not to leave, and takes him with him.


Mason tells Fenner she is out. He drives her to the Monadnock Hotel Apartments, cautioning her to say only "See my lawyer." They have Alder on the defensive, and if she has anything important, she should contact the Drake Detective Agency. She remains concerned about the paper in the bottle.


Mason finds Della in his private office, tells her how Adler tripped himself up over the insurance claim, and is then told Dorley H Alder is waiting for him, a man of "quiet power." Alder is seated in a big leather chair, "one of Mason's most subtle psychological weapons." Dorley Alder was one of few "who could sit there comfortably and fill the chair." Dorley knows Mason is "representing a syndicate which holds a rather considerable acreage adjoining" Alder properties. He assumes Mason knows about the trust, says it covers all the stock. Corrine Alder has disappeared but, if she is alive, she would support his view of things. He knows a letter was found, and wants to know its contents. Mason shows him the copy, guarantees a witness will stand by it, and George has the original. Alder asks Mason to stay away from George, leaves abruptly. Mason tells Della to phone Dorothy and have her stay away from George and Dorley. He confides that Dorley slipped; Carmen Monterrey holds ten shares that are not in the trust.


Dorothy Fenner, expecting newspaper reporters, opens her door to find George Alder. He asks her for her terms. She tells him to see her lawyer. He says he'll be "decent and reasonable," why pay Mason part of her money? He assures her that Minerva Danby's letter is false. He gives her his statement that he didn't even know she was aboard the ship. He was going to investigate Pete Cadiz when she stole the bottle. He says he'll prove the forgery if she'll come to his place in the evening. "Say nothing to anyone . . . The dog will be shut up and the servants absent." [If you don't know what is going to happen next, you will never understand the Perry Mason mysteries!]


[Of course, George Alder has been murdered, but it is a bit before we get that information.] Perry and Della join Paul in his private office. He repeats the story of Alder flying to South America to see Corrine, her disappearing just before he got there because she was despondent over Minerva leaving her and suicide being suspected though her body was never found. Carmen Monterrey is in town and Drake has a newspaper ad to locate her. He gets a phone call and immediately orders more men to the Alder island. Then he tells the duo that George Alder has been murdered and he had only a single man assigned to the island. Sally Bangor found the body. Paul goes out to his switchboard to direct activities, and Mason paces the floor. Drake returns; the D A cannot now prosecute Fenner since there is no one to testify to what was stolen. Mason says it is more than that, shows him the letter copy. Drake says that this is a real break for Mason's client, "unless Dorothy Fenner went back to Alder's house to finish the job she started Saturday night." Mason says she wouldn't do that. Drake says that the modus operandi is the same as before. The maid's scream brought cops quickly, and the island was shut off. Then they found no one on the island. Alder was shot with a .38, fell on the gun. No bullet was found, so it had to go through open French doors, which identifies the line of sight. The murder happened probably around nine. Della has found a newspaper ad for Carmen Monterrey, but it is not the one Paul ran.


Mason goes to see Dorothy Fenner, asking the night clerk at the front desk for her room number. She answers in a housecoat. Mason informs her of the murder and she tries to distract his attention with her shapely legs. Eventually she admits Alder was there and he offered her money. Of course she didn't go to see him without her lawyer. Don't even tell anyone you know the dog was shut up, is Mason's advice. If the police ask, say he told her of the murder. Never admit that Alder had asked you to come there. She moves to kiss him as he is about to leave, she moves to kiss him, abruptly stops. In the hall he hears "the bolt shoot angrily into place."


Della tells Perry that Dorley Alder is in the outer office. Della reports on the police inspection of the murder site, particularly the dog. They tried to collar him, but he plunged out of his closet and charged to the closed gate in the bridge. The inside of the closet "door was all scratched up and blood streaks on the door indicated the dog must have torn one of his claws loose trying to get out." Mason tells her about the kiss; "It's a legitimate deduction from all the circumstances." The newspaper ad was placed by George Alder. Dorley Alder tells Mason the murder gun was George's own, but a technical expert says powder tattooing indicates the gun was too far away for the wound to be self-inflicted, yet paraffin tests indicate it was in George's hand when fired! The sheriff has Fenner in custody. The bottle was not found, or the police are not admitting they've found it. The bullet apparently went out the French doors. Dorley is the surviving heir, which he doesn't like, since the extra strain will shorten his life. He has found an address, possibly where Carmen Monterrey may be found, which he gives to Mason. He offers "time, effort and money" in support of Mason's efforts to solve the crime. Mason offers that he's representing Dorothy Fenner and a syndicate which owns property next Alder's. Dorley assures Mason he'll change George's policy on that property. Mason has Della get out a writ of habeas corpus to spring Dorothy.


Drake reports on the Los Merritos situation. The body of what may have been Corrine Lansing was burnt to a crisp in a fire, and then "turned over to the state for purposes of dissection." The Monadnock night clerk has been sewn up by the police, but Mason still believes Dorothy was in her apartment all night. [Gosh, golly gee, Perry, how can you be so naive?]


A fat, guitar-playing Mexican is outside the Mexican restaurant as Perry and Della enter. Drake's man, Harry Frink, comes over, then Carmen's aunt who owns the place. They survey the patrons for a while, until a waitress brings beer and fritos, and until fortune teller Carmen Monterrey joins them. She tells Della "you love someone who is connected with the work." She goes on about her mother dying while she was young and eventually gets too personal. Carmen explains why Mexicans end sentences with "No?" When Mason says he's always wanted to go to South America, she reveals herself, saying "My one great friend she disappeared and no one knows where she has gone . . . or how she died. For myself I can only admit I do not know. . . when a friend whom she trusted betrayed her confidence it was a great shock." Carmen's aunt ushers two officious-looking men to Carmen; they take her away. On the phone Drake tells Mason the sheriff thinks it is Mason who was Fenner's accomplice.


Judge Garey, with the approval of Mason and district attorney Claud Gloster, approve the jury and the clerk swears them in, seven men and five women. Gloster presents a sketchy opening speech. The autopsy surgeon testifies that Alder was killed by a .38 caliber bullet. Since Mason knows the bullet hasn't been found, he asks how it is known that it was a .38. Because the gun was a .38. But we don't know that this gun fired the bullet. "An expert opinion based on pure deduction." A surveyor produced maps of the Alder site. A police officer who was first to the crime scene tells of his arrival, the coroner and photographers. Mason asks about the dog. When the dog shot out of the closet, he tried to follow him, but "He was gone." When he caught up, the servant who found the body was holding the dog. Mason asks where the dog is and a furious exchanges goes on between Gloster, protesting, Mason demanding, and the judge finally siding with Mason. The officer thinks leaving the dog in a room like that was a crime, and there was "a quarrel immediately preceding the shooting." Mason asks how the murder got the weapon. The judge says "It's pure speculation," to which Mason rejoinders, "It's just like all the rest of the case, Your Honor." Next, county sheriff Leonard C Keddie says there was a way to turn off the burglar alarm for three minutes on the land side. He found a boat drifting in the bay, freshly painted green, some of which had rubbed off on the Kathy-kay. He then looked for anything that might have been dropped when the person jumped in the boat, he found a woman's purse. He produces it in a sealed envelope signed by many people. The contents of the purse are in a second envelope. In a lengthy cross-examination, Mason first shows that when the purse fell in the water cannot be determined (there is a newspaper clipping inside that sets the earliest time, and Mason's objection to it being shown the jurors is not decided). Further, Mason proves that both purse and contents are suspect because they were not in the envelopes when the signatures were put on the envelopes. Signatures were put on the envelopes with a promise from the sheriff of what would be put in, but the purse had to first be dried out, and so forth. Finally, Gloster has the sheriff note he found a wet skirt with a pink spot that might be blood on the defendant's boat.


Before the court matron can remove Dorothy, Mason pins her down on the facts. Now she admits she went to Alder's, found him in a pool of blood. She ran, shut off the burglar alarm current, jumped in a boat, rowed to her yacht, scrubbed the blood spot in the river water. She changed into dungarees, took the boat to shore, got a bus back to town, during which she discovered she'd dropped her purse. She's sorry, if she thought her purse could have been found . . . but she was sure no one could ever show she was out of her room. As Mason leaves the courtroom, newspaper reporters and spectators press for a comment; he gives none. In Drake's automobile, Mason says that the proof Dorothy was at Alder's is bad, but worse is the clipping, for the jurors will eat up the contents even if instructed otherwise. He was expecting Gloster would introduce the letter in the bottle. The only reason he is sticking with Dorothy is because he "was the sucker who picked her up in a canoe Saturday night right after her escapade." "Drake said positively, 'I'm betting there was a long-drawn-out struggle. The dog had that door scratched to pieces.'"


Perry, Paul and Della go to Pete Cadiz. He's playing his accordion, old tunes from the distant past. Della soothes him, he gets rid of the tobacco juice and clears his mouth. "I'm independent. I don't like civilization" pretty much explains his life philosophy. He now lives a simple life, free of ulcers. He eats the fish he catches. When he needs money, he goes to a little half-moon bay where driftwood shows up after a high tide or storm. That's where one day he found the bottle, and the note in it. He took it to Alder who gave him $50, assured him he hadn't read the note and got an additional $100. Mason calls him a liar, tells him why he knows it. He tells him he'll be a witness at a trial, gives him a subpoena and advises he can only pay time and travel.


In a crowded courtroom, Claud Gloster asks to bring Ronald Dixon to the stand out of order. He's the night clerk at Fenner's apartment, four until midnight. On the day of the murder, Fenner came in at 5:30, got her mail, went to the elevator. Later Alder, whom he identifies from a photo, came in, gave him $5 to let him go up unannounced. Forty minutes later he returned and left. About 7:30 he was away from his desk, but as he returned he saw Fenner leaving. He also knew when she returned because of a buzzer and light which indicates when the back door is opened. He saw her; she was now dressed in a white sweater and blue dungarees, not the clothes she had when she went out. He knew she was out between 7 and 10 because the night housekeeper went in then. Gloster produces a skirt and jacket, found on the Kathy-Kay, and Dixon identifies those as the clothes Fenner went out in. She had no purse when she returned. Mason queries him on the $5. Would he have done it for 4? Yes. 3? Yes. 2? He doesn't know. 1? No! Mason "was just getting the value which" Dixon placed on his honor. Mason makes a point of demanding to know what the night clerk said to Fenner when she got her mail. He gets Gloster to contradict himself. Mason demands to see whatever evidence Gloster took from the desk of Alder. He reminds the court that Gloster was instructed to tell him where the dog is, but the D A has not yet done so. Gloster says the dog is now with a witness, and he doesn't want Mason to be able to tamper with his witness. "Would she perjure herself at my request?" asks Mason. "Of course not." "Then you must be afraid that I'd get her to tell the truth." Mason now springs a trap; he wants the court to order that he be permitted to insect the scene of the crime, to which he's been denied access. The court so orders, planning to adjourn at noon this Friday, so Mason has the afternoon and Saturday.


Gloster calls Oscar Linden, who operate the boathouse at the Yacht Club. He testifies that one canoe, painted green, numbered 0961, had a wet carpet. He keeps no list, but points out Mason as the one who rented the canoe. Sam Durham, fingerprint expert, says he identified fingerprints of the defendant and Perry Mason on the canoe. Pandemonium. Fifteen minute recess. A reporter asks about the fingerprints, and Mason suggests he "ask the district attorney how he intends to prove that the fingerprints were made at the same time."


Mason cross-examines Durham, getting him to admit either of the sets of prints could have been made any time over four days. They searched the defendant's apartment, with D A Gloster in attendance. If they fingerprinted it now, wouldn't they find prints of the defendant and the D A? "Why, I . . . I guess so . . . yes . . . Only they would have been made at different times." Court recesses until Monday.


Sheriff Keddie does his best to annoy Mason and deny him access to Alder's, but Mason has the court's order. Mason has experts with mine detectors with him. Keddie puffs-up his importance with the local taxpayers. He's sure Fenner is guilty, thinks Mason should deal with the D A for second degree. In the murder room, the sheriff notes that "The bloodstain's still on the floor. They wiped up the blood. . ." Mason inspects the dog's room. Then he asks for a tall stepladder, to examine a little place in the ridgepole. The sheriff thinks the hole wasn't there when they inspected the room. Mason notes they inspected the walls, not the ceiling. Up the ladder, the sheriff starts digging with his knife, and Mason warns him about damaging evidence. The sheriff is caught off-guard when he understands that Della is taking down everything that is said. Outside, a gun has been found. Keddie is certain they planted it. He finds "One exploded cartridge" of .44 caliber. The sheriff then discovers a bullet, with "reddish discolorations on the point."


Morning newspapers scream forth "SECOND MURDER WEAPON IN ALDER CASE FOUND" and later "UNEXPLAINED BULLET LODGED IN RIDGEPOLE!" The story that follows states; Keddie thinks the bullet was planted, for how could a man be shot through the neck with the bullet going straight up in the air? Hartley Essex is certain the bullet was fired from Alder's gun, but the .44 is the murder bullet, fired from the gun found in the sand. The medical testimony that Alder was killed by a .38 is also in need of revision. Jackson B Hilt, autopsy surgeon, states there is no evidence that bones deflected the murder bullet. Further the newspaper speculates on Mason's course of action, suggesting he can move "whichever direction the cat may jump." Having read the newspaper out loud to Della, he answers her question "how did you know that bullet was up there?" with "I didn't" but follows with "Where else could it have been? The sheriff had examined all other places."


Dorothy Fenner gets Della's attention when she can't get Mason's. She pleads to her to tell Mason she thought she could get an admission out of Alder . . . Judge Garey enters and the bailiff convenes the court. Gloster once again grand stands, to no effect with the judge. When Gloster mentions "corrections," Mason jumps on him; "corrections of inaccuracies . . . " Gloster says they are not inaccuracies. Then "correct accuracies" which, of course, makes members of the jury smile. Again, Mason demands to be told where the dog is. Gloster says the dog was with Carmen Monterrey, who is in his anteroom. He is ordered to produce her. She testifies she wanted the dog, whom she trained, back for sentimental reasons after Alder was murdered. The dog is at her home, a house owned by her aunt. Mason asks about a broken claw. No. Limping. No. Yes, the foot was bleeding, "but it ceased very soon." Did she see an ad placed by George S Alder? Yes. She went to see him. When she got there, did the dog not start scratching the closet, so anxious was he to see her, and Alder let him out right away? Yes. Then, when she accused Alder of murdering her friend Corrine Lansing, an argument ensued, Alder drew a gun, and Prince, her dog, protected her because he had more affection for her than him. "He jumped at Alder's gun arm and clamped his teeth around Alder's wrist, didn't he, Carmen?" This accounts for the triangular tear in Alder's left coat sleeve. That's when he discharged his gun straight up, and when she shot him with her .44 revolver. Yes, she admits, "I had to. He tried to kill me." Mason now asserts why the torn claw was important. The dog hadn't torn a claw. The scratches on the door were made when the dog heard "the voice of the one person in the world whom he really loved . . . Carmen Monterrey." She was the only person who could get the dog back in the closet. The dog had stepped in the pool of blood, and "That's how the blood got on the door." After she left and buried the gun, the defendant arrived. Mason has, of course, asserted she did it in self-defense.


Mason, Della Street and Paul Drake are celebrating with champagne in his office. Mason reveals some of the details that led him to the solution of the crime. When Alder visited Corrine Lansing, she refused to sign the papers he needed, and disappeared. This tied his hands of seven years unless he could prove she died. Then the mysterious letter appears. He mistakenly confided in Dorley Alder. The letter which helped him also virtually accused him of murder. It was Dorley who wanted the letter public. Cadiz knew about the letter. So did Dorley, then Dorothy. He was trapped by circumstances. Then, perhaps the letter was a forgery. The writing is dramatic, building to a climax, not what would have been written by someone in fear of her life. It had to be planted where it was found. Things got into the little bay only after a storm or high tide, and there had been none for a week while he'd been combing the area, when it was fund. Someone was trying to put George Alder in a defensive position, and Carmen was a good choice. Then the dog. A bleeding foot would have left a lot more blood. What was there came from the dog stepping in the pool of blood before being put back in the closet. Only one person could have put him there, Carmen Monterrey, who thought Alder had murdered Corrine. She found a person fitting Corrine's description at Los Merritos, but it wasn't Corrine. She got the idea of using Minerva's death to put Alder on the defensive, so she forged the letter, planted it and waited for Pete Cadiz to find it. Then she was ready to boldly accuse Alder of Corrine's murder when the ad appeared and she found it was from Alder. "It's against the policy of the law to permit a murderer to profit by his crime. Therefore, George Alder couldn't have acquired anything through Corrine's death," states Mason. Dorley Alder "has agreed to a compromise which will give Dorothy Fenner a very comfortable fortune . . ."

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Thirty-sixth Perry Mason Novel, © 1951;

The Case of the One-eyed Witness

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Prescription clerk

3 Drake operatives, one is Pete

Stephen L Fargo, Myrtle's son

Soda counter girl




Deputy chief

An aviator

Woman in coat, aka*

Lieutenant Tragg

Bakersfield taxi driver


A radio officer

Clark Sellers

Man at Golden Goose

Mr Corning

"Myrtle's" accomplice5*

Perry Mason

Dr Robert Afton

Reporters & photographers

Medford D Carlin5*

*aka, Myrtle Fargo

Dr Carlton B Radcliff

Hard-muscled man, aka4*

4*Arthman D Fargo

Courtroom attachés

Della Street

Ronald F Fargo

Courtroom spectators

Telephone supervisor

Motorcycle cop

Hamilton Burger

Hat-check girl

Tragg's partner (Joe)

Various witnesses

Girl photographer, aka**

**aka Celinda Gilson Larue

Autopsy surgeon

Cigarette girl, later . . .

Stockton bus dispatcher

Police officer

Pierre (Larue), headwaiter

Drake's Sacramento man & a partner

Judge Keith

A messenger3*

Mrs Ingram

Boy messenger

Doorman at the Golden Goose

Woman on bus (Mrs Newton Maynard)

Yellow cab driver

Helen Hampton

Sacramento taxi driver

Court matron

Paul Drake

Union Terminal parking attendant (Percy R Danvers)

Deputy sheriff

Belligerent officer

3*Delicatessen store man

This novel begins with Gardner's fourth Foreword, this one dedicated to Scotsman Dr Robert P Brittain, lecturer in Forensic Medicine, barrister and doctor of medicine.

There is also a footnote to S J Goldstein, O D, indicating Gardner's indebtedness for technical material regarding optometry.

Here we learn of the brand of cigarettes that Mason smokes; Raleighs.

So you don't think fiction can provide historical fact? This novel, copyright 1950, mentions the use of a credit card for purchasing gasoline, and an electric stove and electric dishwasher, even though it has a modern "icebox."

In the Detective Book Club edition (which usually crams more lines per page than the original William and Morrow Company edition) the first courtroom scene, Chapter 18, takes thirty pages, a very long day.

In his efforts to keep the Perry Mason novels interesting, Gardner sometimes starts off with events that lead to the attorney, rather than starting with him in his office with Della Street. Here he goes as far as to keep Mason from knowing who his client is for more than half the book. He also keeps us from knowing who certain people are until quite late in the chain of events.


Out of a cold drizzle the lights of a pharmacy shine in an otherwise dark neighborhood. A prescription clerk, soda counter girl and cashier are awaiting a flood of youths from the theater across the street. A woman, shapely even in her coat, enters, goes to the phone booths at the back. She needs nickels from the cashier. A crowd of teen-agers enters. The woman calls the Golden Goose, asks the man who answers to go to Pierre and have him bring Perry Mason to the phone. When he answers, she says she's the one who sent him a package and he must write down the name of Medford D Carlin and his address which she gives. She asks Mason to see Carlin with the clipping which is in the package (which he hasn't received). She drops the receiver as an "who has never known anything but good health" enters, comes over to her. "He placed an athletic arm, hard with muscle, around her waist, swung her towards the lotion counter."


Perry Mason gets the attention of Della Street, asks her to get her telephone supervisor friend to locate the phone. She returns shortly with the pharmacy location. She locate's Carlin's phone number for him. Mason says he "can't get over the note of terror in that woman' voice." The hat-check girl, the girl photographer and the cigarette girl have noticed him. The cigarette girl, olive-complexioned, comes over, Mason buys Raleighs, gives her a dollar, wants no change. The girl breaks down over the big tip. Her problem comes out. She, who is part Japanese, wishes she knew where her little girl, four years old, was. She wasn't married, but the child's father stole her and sold her. No, the real father died. Pierre calls to her to get back to work. Della is more taken with the mother's plight than Mason. The headwaiter, Pierre, comes over with an envelope for Mason. The envelope was delivered by messenger to the doorman. It contains a mixture of bills heavily scented with perfume and a clipping. Pierre returns with the doorman. Mason gives Pierre a $10 tip and he makes it disappear. The doorman remembers little, but the man in the car was about 53, with grayish suit and rumpled shirt collar, a bit seedy. Mason tips him $10, suggests if he remembers anything more he should phone Della. Mason then phones Carlin for an appointment in about forty minutes. The clipping, from a New York newspaper, mentions a Helen Hampton and a blackmail shakedown racket. They agree that Carlin was "affable," not at all curious. "As though perhaps he'd been expecting the call?" asks Della.


Mason wonders how he could have been phoned at the Golden Goose when even he nor Della knew they were going there. At the drugstore they get little information. In the telephone booth they find four nickels, a phone number (the Golden Goose) and some random numbers; 59-4R-38-3L-19-2R-10L, which Mason deduces is a safe combination. Della is told to credit the $570 in the envelope to "Madam X." They go to Carlin's. It is old, painted only long ago. They are met by Carlin, who is friendly. In side it is a bachelor establishment. While Carlin makes coffee, Mason notices the high quality of reading material, including books in find bindings. Serving coffee, Carlin says he's a widower. In the basement he has a little printing shop. He also rebinds deserving books. Mason admits he doesn't know who his client is, and gives Carlin the newspaper clipping. Carlin says he has no partner. He says the client got the wrong Carlin. Also, Mason and Street would photograph well, maybe sometime . . . ? On the way out, the charm of the moonlight prompts Carlin to state "that all of the commercial moonlight photographs are taken at very high speed in sunlight. The camera is pointed directly toward the sun and the lens stopped way down and the shutter speeded up." As they drive away, Mason notes that Carlin gave himself away when he took no time looking at the clipping before saying it meant nothing. They stop at the first public phone to get Drake a tail on Carlin. Della notes that it is 12:52 in the morning.


Mason is wakened by a phone call from Drake; Carlin's place is on fire, an explosion at 3:05. Mason speeds towards the fire and is overtaken by a belligerent officer who yells "where the hell's the fire?" "Mason, keeping his foot on the accelerator, barely turned his head. '6920 West Lorendo." The officer responds "In twelve years on the force, that's the first time a speeder ever gave the right answer to that question." At the scene Drake reports that his first man got there at 1:07. About 1:30 a woman entered as if she had a key. At 1:50 the second man got on the scene and, at 2:03, the third. The third got a description of Carlin from at an all-night service station where Carlin trades, using a credit card. They didn't see the woman come out. No sign of life in the house now. Mason wants to get inside. The deputy chief approaches; Mason spars with "what if" he had a client who wanted to buy the property. The fire chief goes inside and Mason instructs Drake to get his men interviewing the neighborhood.


Drake is preparing hot buttered rum when Pete calls in, reports a burned male body, fitting Carlin's description. A bomb was set off from a timer the floor below. There was a big, fireproof safe in the house. Mason asks if he could get there when it is opened, if he has the combination.


Mason and Drake are in the Turkish bath steam room, hiding from Lieutenant Tragg, when the policeman joins them. Tragg tries to find out why Mason was there for the fire, but is outwitted. He reports Carlin's death was a homicide, gladly leaves the two sweating. Mason tells Drake to find the woman, who must have been with her husband, and who is his client. Bring him the information at 8:30, which will be after Tragg leaves with the 8 o'clock reports.


When Tragg arrives at Mason's office at 8 o'clock, the attorney says that he couldn't tell him who his client was, but not that he wouldn't. Drake gives Tragg the information gathered by his operatives. Tragg doesn't believe Mason when he says he hasn't heard again from his client, now that she knows Carlin is dead. Mason finagles Tragg into letting him go to Carlin's and try to open the safe.


Tragg tries to peer over Mason's shoulder as the lawyer works the safe dials. Mason tries the combination but the safe doesn't open. A radio officer brings r Corning from the safe company. He opens the safe, and charred papers are all that is found.


Drake reports that Pierre, the headwaiter, has skipped out. But two couples have been identified by the hat-check girl. One, Dr Robert Afton, lives at the wrong end of town. The other is Myrtle Fargo, who has a Cadillac registered in Sacramento. Then a call comes to Drake, and he adds Arthman D Fargo and Ronald F Fargo to the list. Mason goes to Arthman, who lives closest to the drug store. Arthman Fargo is a realtor. Mason asks about properties, saying he has "some free capital" and wants a bargain. Fargo takes his leave, goes outside to Mason's car to find out with whom he is dealing, but Mason has removed the registration. While the realtor is out of the house, Mason tries the combination on Fargo's safe, and it works. Far" with "modern, good icebox, electric stove, electric dishwasher . . . " Upstairs Mason is denied one room. He asks about the garage, learns that Fargo's wife owns a Cadillac. Mason says he'd like to come back with a "young woman who -- well . . ." He gives his name as C H Cash, Cold Hard Cash, leaves, calls Drake and learns that Myrtle Fargo is his client. Mason says Fargo claimed to have taken his wife to the airport to catch the six o'clock plane to Sacramento, but he doesn't believe it.


Mason parks where he can see Fargo's garage, as he awaits the arrival of Drake operatives. A Cadillac pull out and Mason goes in chase. A motorcycle cop pulls him over for speeding, lets him go, to late to follow the Cadillac, when he recognizes Mason. The attorney returns to Fargo's; Drake's man has been there five minutes and no one has gone in or out. Mason calls Della to join him. They are to play man and bride at Arthman Fargo's. When he tries the bell, he gets no answer. The door is ajar, but trying to push it in fails, a foot stops it. Just then Lt Tragg joins them, and together they go to the garage. Tragg notices a muddy puddle, deduces someone left recently. They enter the house by the back door through the garage, which has and electric door lifter that, two minutes later automatically closes. Inside they find the place ransacked, the safe open. Arthman D Fargo lies in a pool of blood, caused by a knife. Tragg takes Mason and Street to his partner, to await his questioning.


Before getting in the police car, Mason tells Della he can't tell Tragg what he thinks or knows, because he could be wrong. Tragg has him driven to headquarters, but questioning there proves little. Mason suggests Mrs Fargo may be dead. Tragg asks how he had the combination to Fargo's safe, and his fingerprints are all over it, and has must have taken a paper out of the safe.


On the phone Mason learns that Fargo's girl was Celinda Gilson, the photograph girl at the Golden Goose. Mason figures she killed Fargo when she learned Fargo had murdered his wife and Medford Carlin. Mason sends Della back to the office, goes to see Celinda Gilson Larue. She acts as if just waking up, soon admits to knowing Fargo, having seen him the night before about ten. Mason offers her a cigarette and, having noted her ashtray was full of butts, knows she hadn't just awakened when she initially refuses. "She jumped convulsively" when Mason informs her that Fargo is dead. She blames his wife. She is not divorced yet, because her husband won't pay for it. That's why Larue. She was with friends between two am and five, and was asleep since then. She also thinks Myrt(le) has a boy friend. They spar a bit as Mason accuses her of driving the Cadillac with Myrtle in the trunk. Of course, it is Lt Tragg, again one step behind Mason.


Returning to his office, Mason finds Della and Drake. The detective says he's found Myrtle's mother, and Myrtle is on a Greyhound that left at 8:40 am. Mason says they are going to Stockton.


As the Stockton bus dispatcher announces the arrival of the bus, Drake's Sacramento man contacts Mason, who tells him to get aboard the bus with his partner and start taking names and addresses. Mrs Ingram, Myrtle Fargo's mother joins them, then Myrtle sees her and comes over and in introduced to the attorney and his secretary. Mason asks her if she wasn't planning to take the plane. No. She caught a streetcar and took the 8:45 bus. Mason tells her to quit lying, Arthman is dead, "cut out all the dramatics and all the posing." She says she was on the bus, so has an alibi. The go to Sacramento where Mason says he thought he was representing Myrtle and he could have an alibi all fixed up. She says the murder was Fargo's mistress and admits they were on the point of divorce. Mason says he can't advise her unless she's his client. He sends her home with her mother. Della shows him "exhibit A," a handkerchief with the same perfume as that which clung to the money in the envelope. Drake's man arrives with the list of witnesses, but one woman claims that Myrtle joined the bus at Bakersfield. Mason takes a taxi to Ingram's, tips him well. The police have already picked up Myrtle. Long distance from Paul; a Union Terminal attendant has identified Myrtle as the one who parked her Cadillac there before taking a taxi. A male accomplice helped her get a plane to Bakersfield where a taxi took her to the bus station.


The newspapers suggest Mason fell down in trying to help his client create an alibi. A newspaper account mentions Stephen L Fargo as a happy young lad at a junior preparatory school. Gertie passes on to Della the information that Myrtle Fargo has been booked. The afternoon newspaper states that an aviator told of flying the woman to Bakersfield. A taxi driver took her to the bus station. A Mrs Newton Maynard is positive that Mrs Fargo got on the bus at Bakersfield. The description of Myrtle's accomplice fits Pierre. Clark Sellers, handwriting expert, reports that the writing on the envelope with the money is Myrtle's. Mason now has to fight for Myrtle Fargo.


Mason faces newspaper reporters and photographers; they go 'round in circles. Then Mason sees Myrtle Fargo, who denies she sent him money or phoned him. She agrees to have him represent her. Mason tells her he thinks she sent him the money which she'd been saving against an emergency. In self-defense she stabbed her husband, tried to catch the bus as an alibi. No one on a jury will believe her story, but he'll raise reasonable doubts. She didn't want to disgrace her son. He nods to the matron that the interview is over, goes to phone Drake, tells him to check on Maynard's eyes and glasses.


Drake reports that Maynard keeps to herself, but yesterday she had glasses delivered to her, from Dr Carlton B Radcliff. Celinda Gilson's husband is Pierre Larue, who is still missing. The two go to Radcliff's, but he gives them no useful information.


There were few courtroom attachés or spectators, which annoyed Hamilton Burger who "wanted to gratify a lifelong ambition to achieve a smashing triumph over Perry Mason." Various witnesses and an autopsy surgeon. A witness testified he paid Fargo $500 with ten $50 bills which were put in the safe. Then a police officer says he found ten $50 bills in her purse when he arrested Myrtle. The Union Terminal parking attendant, Percy R Danvers, testifies that about 11 am the day of the murder a woman parked her automobile and she received the usual parking ticket. He points at the defendant. Mason proceeds to pick him apart for being coached by Burger to point at his client. Danvers cannot describe what she wore, only that he recognizes her face. Then Danvers says he's "pretty sure that this defendant is the woman" who took a taxi. So not "absolutely" sure. And so forth. The police gave him pictures of the defendant before he was asked to identify her in a shadow box. Mason goes into the conversation while Danvers was in Burger's office; what was he told not to say? She was not carrying any traveling bag. An aviator testifies to flying someone to Bakersfield that looked something like the defendant. Mason asks him to describe the woman's accomplice. He seemed uncertain in his movements, as if he were drunk, but there was no liquor on his breath. He admits that he wasn't sure of his identification when he saw the defendant in the line-up. The Bakersfield taxi driver. He can only say that he noticed no particular points of dissimilarity between the person he drove to the bus station and the defendant but he cannot remember any points of similarity. Finally Mrs Newton Maynard is put on the stand. She is "absolutely positive" that the defendant was not on the bus between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. She talked with the defendant on the bus. She doesn't like it when Burger interrupts her to keep her on the subject. She continues; she sat next the defendant from Fresno to Stockton where the defendant got off. She says about the way the defendant was dressed, "Quietly, the same as I was." She didn't like it when the defendant said told her she looked older. Mason says "Indeed you don't look your age." She has one eye bandaged. Mason asks to test her eyesight. She removes the bandage, puts on her glasses. She has only one pair. Mason asks her about having the lenses replaced by Dr Radcliff. She says they were not her glasses, but those of a friend. The judge does not let Mason question her as to who her friend is. Mason examines her on how the heavily veiled woman was dressed. Burger rests, surprising Judge Keith, who orders a ten-minute recess before the defense puts on its case. Mason speaks to Drake; he still thinks Myrtle killed in self-defense. He decides, since this is only the preliminary trial, to let the Judge bind her over to Superior Court. Della gets in her two-bits; "Mrs Ingram uses the same scent her daughter does." As his defense, Mason calls Dr Radcliff. He says he fixed glasses for Maynard, which were delivered to him by a boy messenger. They weren't her glasses, but those of a person about sixty, with bulbous nose, probably of Slavic descent. He had the fixed glasses delivered to Mrs Maynard's Los Angeles address. Mason gets Burger to agree to an adjournment until the next day on the basis he may put the defendant on the stand.


Perry, Paul and Della ponder the next move. Mason reasons, "a short time after I'd talked with (a terrified woman) and immediately after Pierre had been seen talking with me, a woman who was a complete and utter stranger approached us with a story about her baby having been stolen and placed up for adoption." Mason gets an idea. He has Della call Celinda Gilson, tell her she's a friend of Helen Hampton, and police came to her apartment and gave Helen a hypodermic of truth serum . . .


Mason goes to Gilson's. She's awaiting a visitor, and is completely nude when Mason opens the door at her invitation. He says he's hiding out. He went to Helen Hampton, played plain-clothed police, gave her truth serum, then they had to go before the police got there. So he plans to hole up with Gilson. Knuckles tap the door and Mason jerks it open to find Medford D Carlin, still quite alive. Mason knocks him out with on blow.


Mason ties Carlin with torn sheeting. Gilson is confused, says Carlin has nothing to do with the murder. Mason notes there were two. She gives up, says "It wasn't murder, it was a baby racket." Carlin sold illegitimate babies. Later, the parents were told they could see the mother, at the Golden Goose. Pierre would tip off Helen Hampton, the cigarette girl, and she'd sob out a story about her stolen baby and its being Japanese to the parents. Only a bit Japanese, but enough to keep people from wanting to marry the baby when it grows up. They would think the adoption papers were illegal, so they'd pay. Four years ago Carlin tried it on the Fargos, whose boy is adopted. Three years ago Fargo forced Carlin into partnership. Mrs Fargo still thinks her boy is part Japanese.


Lieutenant Tragg joins them. He knows a lot about Carlin, if the gagged and tied man is Carlin. Tragg handcuffs Carlin and they head to headquarters, with Carlin mouthing off along the way. Tragg starts thinking. Mason still suggests self-defense. Tragg says he should tell it to the judge. Mason is sent on his way in a yellow cab.


Newspapers announced the return of Carlin and the fact that the burned body was unidentified. A court matron brings Mrs Fargo to the courtroom door, a deputy sheriff brings her to Mason. Myrtle still denies everything, but pointedly turns her back when Mason says she's trying to protect her son. Cross-examination of Mrs Maynard resumes. He suggests "Many persons can see with one eye who can't see with two . . . A lack of co-ordination." He challenges Maynard to identify a witness, one previously known to her, with both eyes. When it is agreed, Mason whispers to Della, who gives a note to Percy Danvers. When she has both eyes open and glasses on, Mason has Danvers stand up to be identified. She says, "I don't know his name but he's the man who has the parking station there at the depot." When she realizes her mistake, she tries to lie her way out. Mason asks Danvers, "Is this the woman you saw?" "It sure looks like her."


Back at his office, Mason has the task of explaining how he figured it out. Carlin, Fargo and Larue were in it together. Myrtle found out, thought using the clipping could get Carlin to let her husband out. The girl in the powder room pointed Mason out, so she went home to get the clipping from the safe, and the money. When she didn't appear, Fargo got suspicious. He found the clipping gone. He found her at the drugstore, thinking she hadn't time to make a call. But Helen was going to make trouble, or so Fargo told Carlin and Pierre. Helen got mixed signals, thinking Mason and Street were the latest victims. Pierre got her away, but knew we'd put two and two together, so went to Carlin wanting to divide the money and make tracks. He and Carlin got into a fight and Pierre was hit on the chin; his brittle arteries led to a cerebral hemorrhage. He was in an upstairs bedroom while Carlin made coffee. Carlin now had to get out from under, called Maynard to join him. He fixed the bomb to destroy the house. Carlin and Pierre were about the same size and age. Pierre didn't wear glasses, so Carlin put his on the body. Maynard took an old pair of Carlin's discarded spectacles and had Radcliff make a new pair. Fargo wanted nothing to do with murder. Maynard went to reason with him, had a showdown, and she stabbed him. Then she figured she could leave a trail by impersonating Mrs Fargo to make it look as if she were trying to build a fictitious alibi. Luck played into Maynard's hands when no one else was traveling all the way from Los Angeles. He caught on to Maynard because she was about the same size, build and age as Myrtle, and she insisted that they dressed alike. Carlin's behavior as described by the aviator fit the man without his glasses. Tragg has gotten fingerprints from the burned body and they are John Lansing alias Pierre Larue. Mason corrects Della, he only unlocked the safe, he didn't open it. "You had to do something to earn your $570." she states.

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Thirty-seventh Perry Mason Novel;

The Case of the Fiery Fingers

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Perry Mason

Miss Virginia Braxton

Airline attendants

Della Street


Georgiana Braxton

Nellie Conway

James Braxton


Sergeant Holcomb

A Drake affiliate agent

Lieutenant Tragg

Nathan Bain

Charlotte Moray

Hamilton Burger

Elizabeth Bain

Dr Harvey Keener



New Orleans plainclothes man

Newspaper reporters

Imogene Ricker

New Orleans detective

Judge Howison

Paul Drake

Taxi driver

David Gresham

Jim Hallock

New Orleans desk sergeant

Various witnesses

Another woman

New Orleans captain of police

A deputy sheriff

Two uniformed radio officer

Roosevelt Hotel house detective

Marta's parents

Harry Saybrook

Another taxi cab driver

Restaurant proprietor


Negro friend of driver

Drake's technicians

Judge Peabody

Two broad-shouldered men

Yet another Drake's man

Court reporter

Newspaper girl

One does not ordinarily think of Erle Stanley Gardner as a humorous writer. Yes, he creates moments of humor in his Perry Mason novels, and often bits of drôle humor. Here he creates a drama of high comedy. Chapter Five is worth reading by itself for the humor of Mason tying a witness up in knots. It is a long chapter, almost twenty pages of - for the reader - continuous chuckles.

Black, or ultraviolet, light is one subject here, but it is not the only time it appears in a Perry Mason mystery. "The case of the Drowsy Mosquito,' the 23rd Perry Mason mystery also deals with black light.

The great courtroom scene of Chapter Five is a rare instance in which Mason is not defending a murderer.

Usually, Paul Drake chooses to drive because Perry Mason drives like a maniac. Here, Della Street does the driving, and it, too, drives Drake nuts.

The comfortable chair in Mason's office has been mentioned before as a device the lawyers uses to size up clients, by how they sit in it. Drake also sits in it, and it is a good description of him "Drake jackknifed himself into the overstuffed chair, swung his knees up over the arm, clasped his hand behind his head, and eyed Mason with a bored indifference that was completely deceptive." Hardly the Paul Drake of the TV series.

Mason and Street often have dinner together, and Drake does his best to join them. Here we learn what Della likes; "a nice thick steak done medium rare, a stuffed, baked Idaho potato with lots of butter, some toasted French bread, a bottle of Tipo Chianti . . ."

By now Mason is writing two or three Perry Mason novels a year, and often one under the pseudonym of A A Fair, with his characters Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Quite a schedule. He was using a dictation machine, letting a secretary transcribe his words. This led in the mid-Fifties to some novels that seem a bit dashed off with unsatisfactory solutions, ones not well-prepared for the reader. The best usually involve a time shift in terms of the murder. Here, the time shift is very subtle and most readers may not see it as a time shift, but it does revolve on when a particular happening occurred.

"Swell" is still in Gardner's vocabulary.


Just as soon as Perry Mason returns from a long day in court, Della Street tells him he has a client waiting, Nellie Conway. Della says "There's a peculiar tension about her and yet her face doesn't show it." Nellie, a practical nurse, works from 6 pm to 8 am. She wants Mason to prevent a murder. He says there are four ways to do so. One, remove the victim. Two, remove the murderer. Three, remove all weapons of murder. Four, go to the police. Nellie has done the latter. She asks how much he'll charge and, for four minutes of advice, he says one dollar, which she gives him. Now she says Nathan Bain is trying to murder his wife, Elizabeth, who was paralyzed by him in an auto accident a month ago. He, 38, wants to marry someone, about 25, name of Charlotte. Bain offered her $500 to give his wife some pills. Sergeant Holcomb just laughed at her and she never got to show him the pills. Mason puts on pill in an envelope, the other three in another, seals the envelopes and writes his name across the seal, has Nellie do the same. A nurse is needed all the time under doctor's orders, and Mrs Bain has ordered that her husband is not allowed to see her. Mrs Bain is rich, from inheritance. Besides the day nurse, their is the housekeeper, Imogene Ricker, who is devoted to Bain and has worked for him since the days of his first wife. Mason gives Nellie the number of the Drake Detective Agency. Nellie asks for, and gets, a receipt for her dollar, leaves. "What a setup!" says Mason. He calls headquarters, talks with Holcomb to pass the buck, letting the sergeant know about the pills.


Drake comes to Mason's office. The attorney give his the envelope with one pill, and is told that a crime lab can use X-rays to determine what is in but a bit of it without destroying the whole. Then Mason suggest to Della they go out for dinner.


An hour and a half later Perry and Della join Paul, just as a call comes to him; It is Nellie, who wants him to come immediately. Mason protests that Nellie has given herself a perfect alibi.


Della drives as Paul cringes. "You're hitting fifty and not giving a damn about anything" he protests. "Well, I get you there in less time, so you don't suffer so long, Paul." The two men go to the house, are admitted by a short, heavy man, who turns out to be Nathan Bain. In the living room, another man, a detective, Jim Hallock, stands behind one overstuffed chair. There is another woman in the room, and Nellie. Mason is there because Nellie called, but he's not yet representing her. Bain explains that he wanted to catch a jewel thief, so Hallock was hired. They inventoried their jewel box, put fluorescent powder on it, put imitation jewels in it. Then they caught Nellie under ultraviolet light , her hands covered with the powder, after a piece of jewelry was gone. They demonstrate, and Nellie's hands light up. As Bain once again calls Nellie a thief, Hallock suggests he be more careful in his description. Two uniformed radio officers arrive. Mason warns Nellie that the powder doesn't actually prove anything and can only charge her with petty larceny. Bain sputters, but Mason points out that all that was taken was cheap imitations, not $5000 originals. Outside Mason tells Della he's mad at the way Bain treated him and his client, whom he will represent in a "petty larceny case just for the pleasure it will give [him] to cross-examine Mr Nathan Bain." Mason says they'll wait to follow the police, so they can't hide Nellie at some outlying station. At headquarters, the lawyer pays Nillie's $2000 bail bond, then goes to Holcomb, lets him know about the pills. Holcomb says "Nine chances out of ten they're aspirin tablets." Back at Drake's Mason finds out that Holcomb was right.


Harry Saybrook, deputy District Attorney, was annoyed that an ordinary petty larceny case had become a jury trial. Hallock explains his employment by Bain and his finding the defendant with fiery bluish-green fingers after some jewelry was missing. Mason offers that "I think this man is telling the truth." Bain explains that he has two nurses, that after they started working things started missing. At Hallock's suggestion they used the ultraviolet light to catch the thief. Mason begins his cross-examination. [[It is impossible to capsule this in any way that would reveal Gardner's drôle humor.]] Mason asks about the jewel box. It was locked. Bain and his wife had keys. She didn't know he had a key. "As you expressed it, I believe, you have rather a contempt for the ability of women to keep things?" Saybrook argues and Mason counters and finally Mason has the court reporter to read Bain's words. When the witness says it wasn't what he meant, it was a slip of the tongue, Mason further crucifies him for making an incorrect statement. It wasn't a slip of the tongue, but the truth. So when he said it was a slip of the tongue, it was an untruth. And so forth. Mason catches the eyes of a woman juror, and lets "his face soften into a half-smile." "The woman promptly smiled back." Now Mason questions who else touched the box. Bain and Hallock. Then couldn't either of them have stolen the jewelry? Since the powder was not in, the box, only outside, someone could have moved it without opening it. When he went to headquarters, he got Mrs Ricker to take over. She was glad they'd caught the thief. She wondered why the jewel box had been left out, tried to put it back, but the desk was locked. So she, too, had fluorescent powder . . . Then Halleck was offered a bonus to catch the thief, yet didn't check Ricker's hands, only Nellie's. Mason moves for a directed verdict. Denied. Mason asks for time to talk to Imogene Ricker, who has refused to talk to him. She refuses to go with him, so he calls her to the stand. She refuses to answer. Mason dismisses her with "I just wanted the jurors to see how violently partisan you were." Then Mason says he'll submit the case without argument, forcing Saybrook to do so also. In ten minutes the jury had a verdict of not guilty. The woman whose eye Mason had caught came over, suggests to Nellie that she should sue for damages. Mason thanks her, and she says she can quote her.


Back at the office, a call for Mason from Nellie. He says he'll tell her she's no longer his client. Then she wants to know what more she owes him, ten or fifteen dollars. She's at Bain's. She was living in the garage with the day nurse. She's negotiating with Bain for a settlement. Mason sets one fee if she pays, $500 if he pays. She thinks $50 is munificent for a half day's work.


Della tells Mason Nellie tried to reach him, but couldn't call after ten. A Miss Braxton, who is so gorgeous Gertie cannot take her eyes on the switchboard, the half-sister of Elizabeth Bain, is waiting to see him. She wants Mason as her lawyer or, rather, her sister's lawyer. She's certain Bain tried to kill her and explains how the accident probably occurred and how the brakeless car was returned to him without ever being checked. Elizabeth owns the house, everything. Bain's business is quite profitable, she thinks. She gives him a retainer check, signed by Elizabeth, then shows Mason presumably in Elizabeth's hand, giving all her property to Victoria and James Braxton, her half-siblings. There is no period at the end, and Mason says this suggests the document was not completed. He suggests he'll take Della with a portable typewriter to Elizabeth to do a legal will. A call comes for her, tho she insists no one knows she is there. It is her brother; Elizabeth is dying.


At 11:55 Paul telephones Perry. Elizabeth died ten minutes earlier. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning showed up just before nine. Sergeant Holcomb has taken charge. Mason orders Drake to check what planes left at 10:15, and to find a woman with the initials N C. Then he calls Holcomb to remind him about the conversation they had about aspirin. Drake reports that a Nora Carson flew to New Orleans at 10:15. Paul is told to get men on "Nora Carson" as soon as he leaves the plane.


A Drake affiliate agent reports She's in n apartment house the second floor of which, with two apartments, Nathan Bain rented for six months a month ago. Charlotte Moray has the other apartment, subleased from Bain. Mason has Drake call off his New Orleans men.


Mason goes out into the French Quarter, makes certain he is not followed, and goes to the apartment of Nellie Conway. She thinks he came for pay, and offers three one-hundred-dollar bills. He asks her about her last minutes with Elizabeth. She assures Mason that Bain never went in to her room. She avoids his question about what kind of settlement she made. She signed a release, and came to New Orleans on impulse. She three the pills in the trash. She thinks Mrs Bain will live another five years. She admits Bain was standing next the phone when she talked to him and Mason holds out his had; she gives him two one-hundred-dollar bills more. Mason goes to the other apartment. Charlotte Moray tries to bluff out of knowing Bain. Elizabeth's death does not phase her, but the word "poison" does. She says she met Bain at a convention six months before. He gave her gems, jewels. Then he rented the New Orleans apartments. She wrote passionate letters and Elizabeth got hold of them. Then he got them back, sent Nora to deliver them to her. Mason advises her to get out of the apartment, fast.


Drake has gotten a message indicating Bain will arrive in New Orleans at 9:15. The police found the aspirin envelope in the trash, opened. The half-sister, Virginia, who has disappeared, gave Elizabeth the pills. A new night nurse quit when Bain made a pass. Ricker has been on duty. Nellie was not working, but stayed. The Braxton's arrived, saw Elizabeth. Doctor Keener left the pills to be given Mrs Bain after 6 am, and Victoria had replaced Nellie by then. Around seven Elizabeth took the pills with a cup of coffee from an urn out of which several people drank. At nine Mrs Bain woke, "and was immediately and violently ill" with symptoms of arsenic poisoning. The doctor identified it as arsenic. About eleven Victoria went in alone to Elizabeth for five minutes. Death was about 11:30. Everyone is looking for Vicki. A phone call from Della tells Mason that the missing suspect is with her.. Drake gets a report that the police located Nellie just as he left her, and have followed him. Mason tells Drake to get him an airplane ticket and leave it in a locker, with the key at the newsstand. Two men at the door, one a detective, the other a plainclothes man, come for Mason.


Mason tells the New Orleans desk sergeant that he is John Doe. When he admits to Perry Mason he's taken to the police captain and Nellie Conway. He says he's no longer her lawyer. She explains how Mason, as her lawyer, got her off a theft charge. She tells the captain about her last night at the Bain's, and seeing Mason at two this morning, tho she never told him where she was going. Mason refuses to say a word except that he told her he could give Elizabeth the pills, but that he only said the one tablet he took was aspirin.


The same taxi driver that took Mason and the two policemen to headquarters is still out front. He takes Mason back to the Roosevelt Hotel. Mason goes up five floors, walks back down to the mezzanine, sees the house detective make a phone call, slips out to a taxi. He and the cabbie agree to a day's fare which eventually comes to $100. They stop once for breakfast where a Negro admits them. Then at the airport Mason sees a surprised Bain picked up by two broad-shouldered men. They go to a park, then for lunch, and back to the airport, where Mason gets the locker key from the newspaper girl. He gets his ticket and a note from Paul telling him Della will be awaiting his arrival at the L A airport. Airline attendants get him on the plane just in time. At El Paso, James Braxton and his wife, Georgiana, get on the plane. She can't stop talking, and tells Mason about Bain's first wife, whose death Bain profited from, but wasted in gambling. Marta, his first wife, died from seafood poisoning in Mexico, but the symptoms were arsenic poisoning. Bain can't touch chocolate and, one night when he'd been drinking, Bain mentioned having a box of chocolate creams in the car in which he was trying to get Marta back to California and an American doctor. Mason tells them to say nothing of this to anyone.


When Mason arrives at the Los Angeles air terminal, he sees Lt Tragg, but not Della. Tragg spies him, joins him, reveals that Holcomb and Bain are friends from a time that the sergeant was in a public speaking course where Bain was an instructor. The P A calls his flight and he leaves. Della who was hiding from Tragg, comes out and says Vicki is at an auto court. The will now has a period.


At the auto court, Vicki says she killed Elizabeth. She is sure that the pills Nellie gave her killed Elizabeth. She had a chance to talk with Elizabeth and that is when she wrote the will. Mason makes her give it to him, and he sees the new period. She assures him it is the same pen and ink, and Elizabeth did it, tho she guided her hand. She explains that Elizabeth stopped writing the will when Georgiana peeked in. He sends her to Honolulu to get her out of circulation.


Drake reports that the police have some secret evidence. The grand jury returns a secret indictment against Victoria Braxton for first-degree murder. To protect Drake's pipeline, Mason sends Vicki a telegram; "COME HOME AT ONCE ALL IS FORGIVEN."


Hamilton Burger finally thinks he can beat Perry Mason. The attorney was cautious, knowing a trap had been prepared for him. Newspaper reporters were on had as a jury was quickly selected. David Gresham and Harry Saybrook, looking for revenge, have been assigned preliminary duties. Witnesses testified to Mrs Bain's death and symptoms of arsenic poisoning and a copy of the holographic will was introduced. Then Hamilton Burger calls Dr Harvey Keener, who testifies that he was called about 8:45, went to the house, diagnosed arsenic poisoning, and the patient was conscious until about 11. Mason objects to the doctor testifying as to who gave her the pills as not a proper dying statement. The doctor produces a "leather-backed notebook" to give the exact words, but Mason takes the book and questions the doctor about when notes were made and shows that the patient knew she was dying only after she told him who gave her the pills. Defeated, Burger calls Nellie Conway. She testifies to Bain giving her four pills and paying her to give them to his wife. Mason told her one contained aspirin, the other three were given to the deceased. "As far as you know, those pills might have contained arsenic or any other poison?" is Mason's position. Dr Keener returns, says that arsenic symptoms would in this patient's condition appear one to two hours after ingestion. He saw his pills later, in a wastebasket. Nathan Bain is next. "In a voice that dripped with sorrow and humility" he admits, after it is noted he will not benefit from his wife's death, that he and his wife had been drifting apart. He gave Nellie four pills, two barbiturate, two aspirin, wanting to give his wife the barbiturates he could get in to her room and retrieve the letters from one of his flings. He waited until his wife was in deep sleep and both Imogene Ricker and Nellie Conway were in the kitchen getting coffee. He snuck in, found the letters, took them, and later arranged to send them to the woman who wrote them. He went to New Orleans to personally tell her he never wanted to see her again. He then explains the false arrest based on fluorescent powder and ultraviolet light. He explains also that the pills showed unmistakable fluorescence. The court adjourns. Mason asks Vicki who handled the jewel box; she, Georgiana, Bain, Ricker. A deputy sheriff takes her away and he joins Jim and Georgiana, who chatters away about the "toad" Bain.


Mason, Drake and Street, confer. Drake says he's found little about Ricker other than that she was devoted to Bain's first wife, then to Elizabeth. Maybe if they could get her to believe Bain poisoned Elizabeth and Marta as well, she might tell them something. Mason says he has to get Burger to open the door wide so that he can dig in cross-examination about the first wife's death. Marta got her $50,000 on her 25th birthday in mid-June, and was dead on August 1. Mason tells Drake that when he springs the point he wants Drake to get to Marta's parents and have them raise hell for an exhumation and autopsy.


Court. Nathan Bain is back on the stand. He describes how a package with a prescription written in Honolulu, the word "arsenic" on it, was discovered in shrubbery at the patio. "Victoria Braxton got to her feet, choked . . ." Pandemonium. Forty-five minutes later Mason learns from her that it was for a cat. Back in court, Bain resumes, but Mason objects and Burger is forced to call for a witness from Honolulu to state that the arsenic was bought by the defendant to kill a cat. Mason stipulates to this, throwing Burger off stride. Further evidence connecting the arsenic bottle with Vicki is also stipulated to, but Judge Howison demands the witness be put on the stand. It is Sergeant Holcomb. Mason traps him with the point that there is a fluorescent fingerprint of Vicki on the package, stronger fluorescence on the tablets, yet none on the bottle. Back to Bain. Mason asks him about the symptoms of arsenic poisoning, then if his first wife Marta didn't exhibit exactly the same symptoms. Bain is stripped of his poise. There was an autopsy for Elizabeth but not Marta. Isn't he going to contest the will so that he can inherit half a million? Yes. Then "tell the jury how much you inherited after your first wife so unfortunately passed away with symptoms so similar to those exhibited by Elizabeth Bain during her last illness." Bain admits he was married to Marta but two years, inherited $50,000, then was married two years to Elizabeth. As the court takes a recess, Bain shouts at Mason "you dirty, despicable shyster! . . . I could kill you!" Mason answers, ""No, no! Don't kill me, Mr Bain! You wouldn't inherit a dime!"


The trio go to a restaurant where the proprietor is a friend. Drake thinks it is bad for Mason's client. He phoned Marta's parents as instructed. Drake gets a report; Bain went straight to an apartment where Charlotte Moray is staying. Mason instructs Drake to bug Bain's house.


Court resumes and Mason again tackles Bain. Between the accident and her death, Bain had no direct communication with his wife. Then he must have known before the accident of the secreted papers. Since he wasn't communicating with his wife, how did he know jewelry was missing? Can he name any single piece of jewelry that is missing? Did he give his girlfriend any jewelry? Would he have an objection to have the body of his first wife exhumed? Burger objects and Judge Howison withholds his decision until court resumes the next day.


Drake's office. A report comes in that Bain and the housekeeper are at Bain's. Della calls Bain, says she's at Receiving Hospital where Charlotte Moray has been the victim of arsenic poisoning from eating chocolate creams, and hangs up. The wait for results is interminable, but finally comes. "Bain and the housekeeper had a hell of a fight . . .Bain accused her of sending arsenic candy to Charlotte Moray. The housekeeper called him a liar and a bungler, pointed out how clumsy he'd been trying to kill his wife in that automobile accident . . ." Drake's technicians have it on wax cylinders. Mason calls Tragg, offers him two murders, if he can have a microphone become police property. Mason calls Bain, suggests he look around the room for a microphone.


In a garage Lt Tragg, Della Street, Perry Mason, Paul Drake and Drake's technicians listen to the wax cylinders. Mason tells Tragg he had narrowed it down to Bain and the housekeeper. Perhaps she fell in love with Bain, killed the first wife out of jealousy, stayed on to be near him. Then she had to switch the pills when she and Nellie were in the kitchen because Bain was so clumsy. Tragg tells Drake to get the wax cylinders to headquarters and he heads to Bain's to pick up Ricker. Mason and Street follow two minutes later, meet another of Drake's men when Tragg is not around. He meets them at the door; Ricker has been strangled by Bain, who was crazy in love with Moray. Tragg already has radio officers outside her apartment to pick him up. Mason tells Della to "get a nice airy room with a good, big bath" for Victoria Braxton.

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Thirty-eighth Perry Mason Novel, © 1951;

The Case of the Angry Mourner

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Belle Adrian

Another deputy

Desk clerk

Carlotta Adrian

Taxi driver

Della's assistant

Arthur B Cushing

Half a dozen detectives

The entire community of Bear Valley

Dexter C Cushing

Four telephone operators

Judge Raymond Norwood

Sam Burris

Four temporary secretaries

C Creston Ives

Betsy Burris

Minister and hidden choir

D A Darwin Hale

Harvey Delano


Dr Alexander L Jeffrey

Perry Mason


Hazel Perris

Della Street

Bear Valley real estate agent

Ballistics expert

Sheriff Bert Elmore

Friend of Arthur

Nora Fleming

Paul Drake

Suburban woman

George Henry Lansing

Three sheriff's deputies, one of them Bill

Marion Keats

Lansing's secretary

In the Foreword to The Case of the Angry Mourner Erle Stanley Gardner says that this mystery deals with circumstantial evidence. "Circumstantial evidence is infallible if it is available." The dedication is to Richard Ford, M D, of Harvard University's School of Legal Medicine.

Mason is still smoking.


Belle Adrian is worried that her daughter, now twenty-one, hasn't come home from her evening with Arthur B Cushing at his father's (Dexter C Cushing) cottage across the lake. She tries to suppress her motherly feelings to go look in Carlotta's bedroom, then goes out to check the garage instead. It is still empty. She hears a scream, dresses and runs around to the Cushing cottage. No one answers the door. She goes around the back, finds broken glass from a window. She tries a door and, inside, finds Arthur Cushing dead. Broken glass from a compact given Carlotta by Cushing, and the compact, is on the floor. Belle "sets about removing every bit of evidence that would connect Carlotta with the death of Arthur Cushing."


Sam Burris, having heard a scream at the Cushing cottage, tries to wake his wife. She takes up a spyglass and looks over at the cottage, sees someone moving around. Her husband says he heard a shot or car backfiring. She sees Belle Adrian moving around. Sam is surprised that the mother is there, looks, then agrees. They've been upset at Cushing's having girls there all the time. It is 2:30. They agree Sam should go over to the cottage.


Belle returns to her cottage only to find the garage still empty. She realizes she must do two things; find Carlotta before the police look for Cushing's dinner guest, and get a bag packed for Carlotta to leave as soon as she returns. She bursts into Carlotta's bedroom only to find Carlotta there. The daughter explains the car broke down on the road, so she walked home. Mom explains she found Cushing dead in his wheel chair with a bullet hole in his chest, and Carlotta's compact on the floor.


The bell of the Adrian cottage rings, incessantly. Belle coaches Carlotta, who worries that Harvey might hear about this. Belle goes to the door and finds Sam Burris. He tells her that he can see into the Cushing cottage, that he has a telescope, that he doesn't like the Cushings for having bought his land to farm, then planning a resort. While Belle protests she wasn't there, he reveals he saw her, and Carlotta earlier. He won't tell the police because he believes Carlotta and Belle are nice people in his neighborhood. He'll be neighborly. Cushing got what he deserved. He suggests Belle get a lawyer, and Perry Mason is visiting. Belle tells Carlotta that Burris's cabin is 300 feet from Cushing's, a distance Carlotta suggests one "couldn't recognize anyone at" that distance.


Mason in his mountain cabin cannot sleep, his mind is so full of cases and Advance Decisions from various courts. It is Sunday and Della Street is scheduled to arrive with four day's mail. As he heads to the shower, Belle arrives with her tale of woe. She gets the lawyer's interest only when she mentions murder. Belle explains how she, a widow since Carlotta was fifteen, has raised her daughter to be good, but she's been dating playboy Cushing, who broke his ankle skiing and who is now dead. When Carlotta returned from dinner with her dress torn, Adrian says she went to bed with her, but was wakened at two by a scream. Sam Burris came by and told her of the murder. She doesn't want publicity for her daughter. Mason asserts "there's not the faintest possibility that your daughter could be connected in any way with the murder" so there is nothing he can do. She's worried about the sheriff. Mason phones Paul Drake to come by plane.


Sheriff Bert Elmore and three deputies, determined but ill at ease, ask to speak to Mrs Adrian. She states she didn't go to Cushing's and her daughter was in since eleven, and didn't go back to Cushing's. Did Carlotta throw a mirror at Cushing. Carlotta doesn't throw things. Mason tries to caution Belle, but she charges ahead to explain things her way. She heard a scream and Carlotta was in bed. The sheriff says this doesn't conform to the facts. She didn't rush to Mason, she came to him to get help and Mason is bringing Paul Drake to help the sheriff. The sheriff doesn't want Mrs Adrian to go out on a limb. He explains how local people know about tracking, and last night the hoarfrost formed about midnight. They found tracks of a woman walking from her cottage to the Cushing's, and back. The puncture in her car was caused by a piece of silvered glass. The car had to leave the Cushing place after the glass was shattered. Another set of footprints leads from the car back to the Cushing place, then back to the car. Mason then tells the sheriff he's not telling Belle Adrian to not answer questions, he's telling the sheriff not to ask any. A fourth deputy arrives with a .38 revolver found thirty feet from the car. Mason suggests Adrian can explain things in the proper time, which is not now. After the sheriff and his men leave, Belle declares "My God, Carlotta did kill him!" Mason calls her, tells her to say absolutely nothing when the sheriff arrives. Belle insists neither she nor her daughter went to the cottage and they cannot identify the footprints. If they find conclusive evidence pointing to Carlotta, she'll "take the rap." Mason warns that would get her a first-degree murder conviction, while her daughter, defending her honor, could get an acquittal.


Paul Drake arrives, "weary, hungry and a little annoyed," in a taxi. He shaves with an electric razor while Mason prepares his breakfast, three eggs, half a dozen slices of bacon, a whole pot of coffee. Drake's men are in town getting breakfast. Mason tells Drake it is a mother and daughter case and the mother feels the daughter did it. The gun with one empty chamber was found near the car driven by the daughter, which had to leave the crime scene after the murder. They were both home. Mason asks Drake to get his men to write down every license plate number they can get in town. Della Street arrives only to learn of the murder. Mason says he may have two clients, each protecting the other, and he and the sheriff are each dealing with circumstantial evidence which is susceptible misinterpretation.


Harvey Delano arrives at the Adrian cottage and is told about Cushing by Carlotta, who also says she'll take the responsibility, against which Harv advises. She tells him about her mother doing things that deliberately pointed to her. She says she left the car about one, but everyone is told eleven. Her mother went over to Cushing's around two, found him dead. Mom could have gotten his gun out of the car. Mom refused to let the sheriff search the house. Sheriff Elmore arrives with a search warrant. He and his deputies find Carlotta's compact inside a riding boot. He tries to get Carlotta to try on a pair of shoes, and Harv offers even his feet could fit them. The sheriff gives Carlotta receipt for the shoes and compact.


Perry, Paul and Della are in conference with Harv and Carlotta. Mason forces Harv to declare himself Carlotta's attorney, which means he doesn't have to worry over who is covering up for who, since Belle is now his only client.


Mason has a battery of workers helping, four telephone operators, four temporary secretaries. Mason points out that Bear Valley is 190 miles away, and the Cushings had friends in town and business interests there. Whomever was at the Cushings and screamed will be at the funeral. If she owns a car, she'll have been in Bear Valley Sunday morning, then at the funeral here. Look for duplicates. A minister and a hidden choir perform their duties before the mourners and pallbearers. The half-dozen Drake detectives produce four duplicates; a real estate agent from Bear Valley, a close friend of Arthur who twice was involved in escapades that attracted publicity, a woman who lived in a suburb 20 miles away, and Marion Keats who lived within the city. Mason tells Drake how circumstantial evidence can be misinterpreted; the antique mirror was thrown by Cushing at his assailant, or the other way. He gives Paul a signal he'll use to summon him.


Keats' apartment is pretentious. Mason bribes the desk clerk to let him and Drake get to Keats' apartment unannounced. Mason enters alone, gets no cooperation from Marion, so Mason gives Paul his signal and the detective buzzes the apartment. Marion thinks it is the janitor coming to throw Mason out but, when she flings the door open, Drake thrusts a subpoena into her hand. Mason goes to work. This subpoena cannot force her to appear in a court outside of her county but, unless she will endorse this original agreeing to appear, he will have to go to a judge and focus attention on her in the newspapers. She promises that if she's made to testify, she'll crucify his client.


On the way out, Mason gets the clerk to tell him about a phone call. On Saturday afternoon Miss Keats was upset, in and out half a dozen times, and got a call long distance from a pay phone in Bear Valley. The conversation was one word in a feminine voice, "yes." Keats went out right after that.


The Bear Valley Inn. A temporary office includes an assistant for Della. Mason is telling Drake that if Marion Keats left her apartment at 9:45 she would have arrived about 1:30. Drake suggests that the district attorney will suggest Carlotta returned to the Adrian's about two, Belle went over, Cushing laughed at her, she went to the abandoned car and got the gun, went back and shot him. Then, Mason asks, how did she get back to leave the gun near the car without leaving another set of tracks? Mason suggest that, perhaps the gun was not in the car, but this would make it premeditated murder on the part of Belle. Perry tells Paul to find the woman who screamed, and the one wearing high-heeled shoes that left tracks from Carlotta's auto to the Cushing house, or from the house to auto and back.


"THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY OF BEAR VALLEY HAD turned out to attend the preliminary hearing." Judge Raymond Norwood was presiding. C Creston Ives was employed by Dexter Cushing as special prosecutor to work with District Attorney Darwin Hale. Dr Alexander L Jeffrey testifies to death occurring between 2 and 3 am from a .38 caliber bullet. Mason cross-examines. The decedent could walk with crutches, not without. Mason goes after him on the time of death, which is determined by the temperature of the body when examined, relative the temperature in which the body was found, which involves the broken window admitting cold air to the room. Mason gets the doctor to admit he was mistaken in his judgement and in saying he'd not been influenced by other factors. D A Hale is embarrassed. The Court adjourns for ten minutes.


During the recess talkative Betsy Burris admits too much to Hazel Perris, wife of the local butcher. Perris then suggests to Sheriff Elmore that he grill Betsy.


A ballistics expert identifies the murder weapon. Harvey Delano admits the revolver is his, that he hasn't seen it for a week. A deputy sheriff testifies to finding the gun. Dexter Cushing testifies to giving the antique mirror to his son. Mason gets him angry, to the point where Cushing declares he wants the defendant punished because she's guilty. Nora Fleming, Arthur Cushing's servant, testifies to serving dinner to Arthur and Carlotta. She identifies Carlotta's torn dress. She left at 10:30. She has lived locally two months, knew Arthur six, was employed by Dexter Cushing. Mason asks about the antique mirror. To test her recollection, he gives her a similar mirror. She holds the mirror in her lap, lifting it a few inches at a time, declares "It's about the same size and weight." Mason notes it is 32 pounds. During the lunch recess, Drake reports that Arthur must have planted servant Fleming on his father. Mason says he doesn't want this brought out. There is no glass in the rubber tires of the wheel chair, which was surrounded by broken glass, so Arthur was shot from in side the house. Why was the mirror thrown is Mason's query. And by whom is Drake's. Drake reports that the phone call to Keats was made at 9:20 at an outside booth next a service station that closed at 9. Someone let Marion know Arthur was having dinner with Carlotta. The car had fingerprints, only one thumb print was unidentified. The sheriff is sweating Mrs Burris. Carlotta charges in, wants to tell Mason something, but Harvey comes along and tells her to shut up.


Sheriff Elmore testifies to finding the compact in the toe of a boot, and a blood stain on one shoe, glass bits in both shoes. He testifies to seeing no glass in the wheels of the wheel chair. Glass from five sources was found, including the compact and a broken highball glass. Apparently there was a struggle after Arthur was shot, between the murderer and another person. There was only one set of tracks leaving the Cushing house. Mrs Burris says her husband wakened her at 2:30 and, with a thirty-power telescope, she saw Belle Adrian in the Cushing house. She saw the smashed window, so told her husband to go over to the cottage. Sam Burris testifies to waking to a breaking window and gun shot. He saw Mrs Adrian. Why didn't he mention that earlier. Mason says this is the prosecution cross-examining its own witness, then rescues Sam by asking if the D A asked him if he saw Mrs Adrian. "No, he didn't" is his answer. The D A goes at Burris again, asking about the tracks in the frost. Since he saw Belle Adrian there, weren't they her tracks? His response, "I didn't know. I still don't know, and I doubt if you know either," brings laughter. There was only one set of tire tracks leaving after the frost. Burris also saw a drinking glass with lipstick on it. D A Hale suggests he cannot condone Burris's conduct, and expects Mason to accuse him of setting up blackmail. Mason doesn't cross-examine, catching Hale off-guard. During a short recess, Belle confesses to Mason that when she saw the empty garage she went to the Cushing cottage and found Arthur dead. She did what any mother would do, cleaned the place of whatever incriminating evidence she saw. She didn't go to Carlotta's car.


Sheriff Elmore testifies to taking fingerprints and gives Mason a clear, unidentified thumbprint from the car. The tire had started to go flat from the moment it was driven from the cottage. A sliver of glass an inch and a half long did the damage. Hales says this concludes his case. Judge Norwood is prepared to bind the defendant over, but Mason wants to put on a defense. He calls Marion Keats. Mason asks her a few innocuous questions, then asks her to scream. She does. Objected to, and so forth. Mason asks again, and this time her scream was one of anger. She says she's emotionally upset and wants a lawyer. She's excused. Now Mason demands that the wheel chair be brought in. Mason calls Burris who admits it could have been many minutes since he first woke up to glass breaking, then the gun shot, and more before the scream. Mason has him sit in the wheel chair, then gives him the mirror and asks him to throw it six feet over his back, arguing that, if it was Cushing who threw the mirror, that was how it had to be done. The wheel chair would have tipped over backward had Arthur thrown the mirror The judge replaces Burris, agrees with Mason. As the Court recesses, Drake warns Mason that the D A set him up with Keats. A pain-in-the-neck attorney named George Henry Lansing is representing her.


Lansing has phoned Mason's local office and Mason returns the call. Lansing says he'll prefer charges against Mason, who responds by telling him to stay in his office. He goes to Lansing's office and a somewhat flustered secretary is told that she'd better tell Lansing that "his client is mixed up in a murder right up to her eyebrows." When he comes out, Mason tells him to ask his client "how much she paid an informant to telephone her that Carlotta Adrian had a tête-à-tête dinner date with Arthur Cushing" and where she was around 2:30 am. Keats comes out of Lansing's office, wants to explain, but is shut up by Lansing, whom Mason calls a slow thinker. Back at the hotel, Drake gets the news that the unidentified thumbprint is that of Nora Fleming.


Mason calls Marion Keats to the stand. George Lansing argues the witness has been called to besmirch her character, using her as a red herring, and use legalized blackmail against his client. Mason demands to examine the witness. Mason tells Lansing to "take care of your own ethics and I'll take care of mine." Then he asks when Miss Keats first consulted him. If it was before she went on the stand . . . Lansing tells Keats to go on the stand. Lansing tells her that he'll object to every question so she should not answer quickly, she might not have to answer at all. Mason asks if she is acquainted with Nora Fleming, Cushing's housekeeper. Objected to. The judge asks Mason to explain what he is trying to find out from this witness. Mason states he thinks Keats was insanely jealous, was phoned by arrangement when Carlotta and Arthur were having dinner, came up to confront them. Fleming called Keats with the one word, "yes," as the signal. Keats drove up, met Fleming, they found the abandoned car. Either Nora or Marion walked from the car to the cottage, arriving about the time of the scream. Lansing calls this preposterous. Mason springs his trump. He asks Keats how "Nora Fleming left her right thumbprint on the handle of the door of Carlotta Adrian's car. . ." Keats screams; she walked into the place and found Arthur dead. She says "I'll tell it! I'll tell everything! Just make that man leave me alone." She confesses Arthur said he was going to marry her. She thought he was playing around, so she arranged with Nora to let her know when he was putting on the wolf act. She drove up, met Nora, and they found Carlotta's car. Nora went from running board to running board into Carlotta's car, found the compact, gave it to her. She took it, ran to Cushing's cottage, found him dead, dropped the compact. She didn't kill him, she loved him. Mason has no questions, but Judge Norwood asks her if she opened the glove compartment. Yes, but there was no gun. Lansing tells his client not to answer any more questions. Judge Norwood calls counsel to his chambers where Mason says Keats did not kill Arthur Cushing. He tells the others that if they figure it out, they'll realize that there was one glass washed and polished by Belle Adrian, another broken on the floor. Judge Norwood catches on, the others don't.


Back at the hotel, Mason tries to explain to Paul and Della what he figured out and how. Burris is the murderer. He hated Dexter Cushing for fooling him over the value of his property. He figured that if Dexter had no heir, he'd pull out and then the property could be sold for a higher price. He killed Arthur, went back to his house, woke up claiming a gun shot which his wife, in deep sleep, had not heard. Earlier he'd broken the mirror, took a piece of glass from it, let air out of Carlotta's tire, cut a slice and put in the glass. Everyone in town knew Carlotta had Harvey's gun, so he had gotten it earlier. He made a mistake, however, in his cross-examination, over the glasses., If he had been telling the truth he would have said he saw no glass on the table, but when he left, there was, the one with lipstick on it. His advising Belle , an attempt to divert suspicion form the Adrians, would indicate that he couldn't be the murder. Mason suggests they pack and get out before people come in with their congratulations and trying to bum for free legal advice.

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Thirty-ninth Perry Mason Novel, © 1952;

The Case of the Moth-eaten Mink

Click HERE to go to the related TV episode

Click HERE to go to another related TV episode

Perry Mason

Cab driver

Thomas E Sedgwick

Police shorthand reporter

Della Street

Lt Tragg

Alburg's cashier

Mason's night office janitor

Morris Alburg

. . . aka George Fayette, alias . . .

Drake's night switchboard girl, Minerva Hamlin

Arthur Leroy Fulda

Dixie Dayton


Mason's apartment night clerk

Fulda's wife


Paul Drake

Jake, Mason's garageman

Minerva's mother

Five waitresses, one . . .

A Drake operative

Keymont night clerk, Frank Hoxie



Four elevator operators

Mrs Madison Kerby

Jail desk man

Waiter Tony

Cigar stand girl

. . . alias Herbert Sidney Granton

Jail matron

Two plain-clothes policemen

Seattle police

Sgt Jaffrey

Hamilton Burger

Man with gun


Newspaper reporters

Judge Lennox

Man in car who hit Dixie

. . . Mae Nolan


Autopsy surgeon

Steak-eating man, aka . . .

Drake's man in Seattle

A uniformed officer

Four specialists

Two men and a woman

Robert Claremont

Plain-clothes men

Carlyle E Mott

Never has a murder's solution been held as late as this. This is the first time we have to wait until the last page to know who done it.

The Foreword of this novel is a dedication to Russell S Fisher, M D, who, was chosen, under the guidance of among others New Hampshire Captain Frances G Lee and Erle Stanley Gardner, to be the first Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Maryland.

Tragg smokes cigars, Mason cigarettes.

We've always known Tragg as a square-shooter with Mason, and Sgt Holcomb as the one who hated Mason's guts, more or less along with D A Hamilton Burger. In this case, you'll like Tragg as never before, and sympathize with him.

Here is the second use of the name "Hoxie" in the TV series, as a hotel night clerk. The first is in The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife, where the name is part of a law partnership.


Perry Mason and Della Street enter Morris Alburg's restaurant after a hard, grueling day, order double Bacardi cocktails. Morris suggests the steak and Mason orders "two thick steaks, medium rare, lots of lyonnaise potatoes, some buttered bread, with" and, after consulting with Della, "garlic." They reminisce over Mason's having to ask the same question twelve times until the "old goat" finally told the truth. Alburg waits on them excessively until his problem comes out. A waitress, Dixie Dayton, walked out without bringing the service to a table of three, leaving a moth-eaten mink coat, and her check, behind. Mason conjectures as to what her condition in life might be. She was once rich, got tangled in something - Morris suggests a reefer party - got jailed and the coat was moth-eaten in her closet while she was not there. Mason wonders how she was rich when she went in to jail, poor coming out. Morris discovered Dixie missing when the cook rang the bell several times; after looking for Dixie he reassigned the five waitresses to her tables. The dishwasher said she went out the back door into the alley. Tony, a waiter, announces the arrival of two plain-clothes policemen. They came in because some guy took two shots at Morris' waitress, she ran and was struck by a man in another car. What scared her? She had four tables, and had started out with a tray and three glass and butter to set a table. Since a crowd of three is unusual, it is easy to locate the table. The officers do a shakedown on the guests while Mason and Street watch. The attorney notices a man "eating his steak with strange regularity, swallowing his food as fast as he can." He's one of the few paying attention to the questioning, but he's close enough to hear. Mason reasons that, since Dixie had a tray with three settings, she'd already seen the three people, so it wasn't them who scared her. The man is finishing his food so as not to look suspicious. Mason suggests Della follow him. Mason starts to leave and Morris tells him the bill is on the house. The officers say the three were out-of-town, or at least the men, and the girl didn't know the waitress. Alburg tells Mason, now his lawyer, to keep the coat. Della returns, having drawn a goose egg. The guy caught a cab. When she finally caught one to follow him, it turned out to be the one the guy went away in; it had gone around the block and dropped him at his car along the way. Mason says this makes clear he is the one that scared Dixie. Alburg says the man is not a regular customer.


Mason calls Lieutenant Tragg, asks him to find a way to put Dixie in a hospital where she'll be safe. Then he opens the mink coat lining, finds a Seattle pawn ticket.


Della informs Mason that Alburg phones about an insurance agent, George Fayette, wanting to see the waitress. Gertie informs her employer that "He's here." Mason calls Paul Drake to get a shadow on Fayette while Della goes out to delay him, but Fayette gets wind of what is going on, leaves. Mason, Drake, Street and a Drake operative go hunting for his car, upsetting an elevator operator. Their search proves fruitless. Mason questions all four elevator operators and the last says the guy went up, not down. The cigar stand girl says the man came out after their group went out, saw Della, buried his face in a magazine, then went out when Mason and Drake crossed the street. Mason, Drake, Street and the operative cruise around nearby streets, again not finding their quarry.


Back at the office, Lt Tragg's phone call informs them the girl has disappeared.


Drake informs Mason that the pawn ticket produced an $18 .38 Smith and Wesson special. The police got to it when they found Dixie's purse at Alburg's, and it had another pawn ticket. The Seattle police went for the item and the pawnbroker remembered the customer had a second item, the pistol. One of Alburg's waitresses told the police about the mink coat. Mae Nolan , an artificial blonde, tells Mason how tough her job is when the boss plays favorites. She derides Dixie, "That girl a waitress? Phooey!" She describes how Alburg recognized her the moment she walked in, but Dixie covered that so it looked like it was their first meeting. Morris gave her the mink coat, which made Dixie cry all afternoon. When she leaves Della fans the room with a newspaper to clear away Mae's perfume. Then Tragg bursts in, says his fingers are burnt. He wants the coat, the mink stole, rather the "mink stolen." He goes into a long story about the murder of a good cop, Robert Claremont. To keep the story short (which Gardner doesn't), Claremont was murdered with his own gun, which is the gun in the pawnshop in Seattle. The only suspect was Thomas E Sedgwick, who had a profitable cigar counter, which he sold for cash immediately after the murder. His fingerprint is on that gun. Mason gives Tragg the ticket to the coat at a fur storage place.


9:30. Mason drops in on Paul Drake, who says he can't find out much of anything about Fayette. He wrote $500,000 of bail bonds on property worth about $20,000. Mason says he left a note for Alburg to call him at any hour through Drake's service. Mason, anxious, phones the cashier at Alburg's, learns that the letter he left was delivered to a cocktail bar. Mason gets her telephone number. Mason tells Drake to go to work on Fayette, goes home, has trouble falling asleep. He is wakened by Drake's night switchboard girl. Alburg comes on, tells Mason there is no choice but that the attorney come to him at the Keymont Hotel. Mason orders his car, is noticed by his night clerk and thanks Jake, the night garageman, for getting the car ready and warm. A quarter hour later Mason is at the Keymont, walks past the curious night clerk, goes to 721, Alburg's room, finds a note in lipstick and a lipstick, and the impression of a gun on the bed. A girl arrives, says she's Dixie Dayton. She tells Mason Alburg needs help and the attorney is to represent her. Mason refuses to bite, says he's not on the case and not her lawyer. She has pressed Mason's hand in hers, then kissed it. She goes to get Alburg, returns only with a note, typed and signed in scrawled pencil lead. Mason has, while she was out, called Drake to get a tail on her when she returns, and taken impressions of the lipstick note, the lipstick and Dixie's kiss. She explains that Morris is busy, protecting her. She asks when a person can kill another and be justified. Self-defense, only. What if you know a person is waiting to kill you. Go to the authorities. She then says Fayette tried to kill her, in the alley, probably because she's the girl friend of Tom Sedgwick. The rest she tells Mason knows. She decides she has no choice but to bring Alburg to Mason.


Paul Drake joins Mason in 721. He's put his switchboard girl onto the Dixie, who went to 815, which is rented to a Mrs Madison Kerby. Mason corrects, "She said she was Dixie," and pulls out the handkerchief with three lipstick stains, all the same. This led to finding a note under the table, which Mason thinks is a fake. The table note leads them to the Third volume of the phone directory, page 262, line 15. It is the name of Herbert Sidney Granton which Drake recognizes as an alias of George Fayette. They find another note on the back of the bathroom mirror. They conjecture what might have happened. Lieutenant Tragg arrives, with Sergeant Jaffrey of the Vice Squad, under whom Bob Claremont was working when he was killed. Someone in 813 thought he heard a shot in 815. They found a dead man whose description fits Fayette. The hotel desk clerk, who has a photographic memory, told them Mason was in 721. Tragg sends the two to the lobby to wait questioning. Jaffrey says they are not witnesses, but "suspects in the murder of Herbert Sidney Granton."


The lobby of the Keymont was abuzz with activity, newspaper reporters and photographers trying to get a story. A uniformed police officer has taken over the desk. A plain-clothes man takes Drake and Mason to Tragg and Jaffrey, ensconced in the most pretentious suite of rooms in the hotel. A police shorthand reporter has already filled a dozen or more pages, Mason observes. Mason admits to coming to the room to see a client. Tragg reminds Drake that though Mason is skillful, adroit, cuts corners, and hasn't been disbarred, a detective can lose his license all too easily. Claremont offers that this has to do with the killing of Bob Claremont. Jeffrey is old school, and needs constant reminding from Tragg to ease off. Mason, of course, can't, and won't, give out certain types of information, so they pump Drake. He explains sending bringing his night switchboard girl,Minerva Hamlin, to the hotel. Minerva followed the girl from 721 to 815. They'd expected her to go out, not up. So Drake sent Minerva back to the office and came up t 721 for instructions. Mason offers that he found an imprint of a gun on the bedspread, and a tube of lipstick. He points out it was used t write a message, and they found it. A second, Tragg asks of Drake. Yes. Mason explains the first. Jaffrey badgers Drake, so Mason tells the detective to give everything so he won't lose his license. Jaffrey jerks Mason out of his chair and raises his fist, but is stopped by Tragg, who cautions the shorthand reporter to not describe what is happening. So Mason verbalizes it, which the reporter has to write down; "I think Sergeant Jaffrey lost his temper, Paul. You can see that he grabbed me and messed up my coat and necktie and was on the point of hitting me when . . ." He is sent back to the lobby.


A uniformed officer stops Mason from leaving the building, so he phones Della. She is to get the Alburg cashier and go to the restaurant office, go through check stubs to find the detective agency Alburg has used. As he hangs up, Minerva Hamlin is ushered by, then Mason is sent back to Tragg and Jaffrey. He notes the shorthand notebook is now half-filled. The police want Hamlin to identify a photograph, but first, they call the desk clerk, Frank Hoxie (the name Hoxie is used in the TV series for one of the autopsy surgeons), to identify it first. Hoxie, with his photographic memory, says the picture is of the woman who rented 815. Minerva Hamlin is then asked to identify the photo and she says she thinks it is, then is prodded into stating that it is. They refuse to show it to Mason. They refuse to let Mason again view 721. They refuse to let Drake or Mason talk to Hamlin.


Sitting in the lobby, Mason says that the room had to be wired. Who could have wired it? Drake says every agency has the equipment. Tragg joins them, says the mirror number was the license of Granton alias Fayette, and the car had a bullet hole through the door. He warns that "until Dixie Dayton produces Tom Sedgwick [they're] going to raise merry hell" with his clients.


Mason sends Drake up to his office with the warning that he's "damn near certain" Hamlin made a wrong identification. Mason is certain Morris had the room wired and wanted him there when he interviewed someone. He again conjectures what happened to the real Dixie and Morris. Someone from his own mob killed Fayette is Mason's assumption. What if a phony tells him Morris is out killing Fayette so Fayette won't kill him; is this an attempt at self-defense by counteroffensive? Della has not found a detective agency, so Mason goes to his office where the night janitor tries to find out what is going on, to no avail. At Drake's office, Minerva Hamlin is more than stand-offish. Is she "supposed to commit perjury as part of the routine duties of this office?" Mason points out the unlikelihood of her having a good look at the suspect, to no avail. In the corridor, Drake notes that "She's certainly efficient." They go to Alburg's, where Della has found the necessary check stub.


Paul and Perry wake up Fulda and his wife. He resents their intrusion, she makes coffee. Mason tells him this is murder, and the police can trace his equipment by its serial numbers. Fulda had not thought of that, breaks down, tells them how he set up the equipment for Alburg. He monitored it part time. He heard Alburg tell some woman to be frank with Mason. Then sounds he couldn't explain. Later, a man and a woman, and a message in lipstick which the man said he'd fix. Later Mason came in. He took that disc, put a fresh one on, left. Mason suggest to protect himself he should call the Homicide Squad. He does. Just then Tragg arrives. The lieutenant is, of course, surprised to find Mason there, and that Fulda has tried to reach him. When Mrs Fulda offers coffee, Tragg says "I'll drink all of it."


The morning mail brings a letter from Morris with a $1,000 check. About 3:30 Drake reports that he tried to reach Minerva and her mother said she was at police headquarters. He has been checking up on her and has found that she "always seems to have the situation well in hand, but, damn it, she does make mistakes." She refuses to kid around with the others in the office. Morris phones in; he's in jail, the Central Precinct. The police have shuffled him around since 9 am.


Visitor's room at the jail. Morris is given the opportunity to explain what happened to him. He was coming to Mason's office when a plain-clothes man got hold of him. He had the murder weapon on him. He admits that Thomas Sedgwick , his half-brother, was making book. A cop got the goods on him, wanted information, not money. Fayette was the first part of the payoff. Dixie was sure Tom didn't kill Claremont. Mason asks him how Dixie had Claremont's service revolver, which floors Alburg, who now agrees Tom must have murdered Claremont. When Dixie surprised him, he had to give her a job. Dayton is not her real name. While she was hot, he kept her mink coat. He didn't think about moths. When she came back "I bring it out. . . . Well. You saw it." Tom has T B and Seattle is not good for him, so she came back, keeping Tom hidden. Dixie saw Fayette at dinner, ran out the back as he expected. A woman calling herself Mildred calls him, says Fayette two-timed her and he killed Fayette. He thinks, remembers Dixie can remember numbers. When she ran out, she recognizes the license plate number, Fayette's. He gets a detective to size up the Keymont, wire a room, then calls Mildred to meet him. She makes him come to the Keymont, where he gets room 815. He has Dixie call Mason, but has to go through the night clerk. Two men and a woman come in just then. He reached for his gun, she says "Call the police" to the clerk but is immediately hushed up. "A gun on the bed is no good against a gun in the hand," and when he tries to say something he is blackjacked. They took him and Dixie down the freight elevator, then to an apartment hotel with towels saying Bonsal. Later they took him on the floor of a car into a park with brush on a steep hill. An emergency braking throws the man with the gun at his head forward. Morris grabs the gun and jumps out of the car, walks, takes a taxi and is picked up. Of course he's told the police. They went back to the Bonsal, but something was haywire. Mason says he's stuck with the story.


As Mason is leaving, the desk man gives him a call from Dixie Dayton. The matron already has a pass arranged for him. Dixie says she and Morris were kidnapped at gunpoint. Mason's own witness identified her in a line-up. She was taken to an apartment which she thought was the Bonsal until the police took her back and it wasn't the same. The next morning they drove her to the airport, offered her a ticket to Mexico where they said she'd be met by Morris. At the gate a plain-clothes man took her into custody. Mason tells her no jury will believe her story.


Mason tells Paul and Della it is a nightmare. He has to put his clients on the witness stand, or everyone will thin k their story is so terrible it won't sand cross-examination, but he can't because no one will believe their story. Mason hopes they can find the fake Dixie. A call comes to Drake; Minerva has told the D A she was being pressured. She quits, immediately, and is taking a job in the county offices at a larger salary.


Hamilton Burger addresses Judge Lennox with a request to disqualify Mason as attorney for the defendants, since Mason is to be a witness for the prosecution. Burger can show no law requiring this, only good taste and ethics. Mason counters with the D A's own ethics in hiring a witness at a higher salary in a county office. Burger eventually calls his first witness, the autopsy surgeon, followed by four other specialists. Carl E Mott testifies to the bullet being fired from a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson police special. The plain-clothes man who arrested Alburg is called to testify to picking up and taking the gun just introduced from him. Mason draws out of him that he didn't write down the serial number of the gun until after it came back from tests. Fulda testifies to making recordings and Mason allows not just the one he took from the room but those confiscated by the police to be introduced as evidence. Burger asks about the conversation in which "Dixie Dayton, states in so many words to Perry Mason that her codefendant, Morris Alburg, is out murdering George Fayette." Mason flatly denies Dixie told him any such thing. Burger calls Hamlin to prove it was Dixie. She testifies she saw Dixie emerge from Mason's room and went to 815. She is absolutely sure the woman she saw in the line-up was the same one she saw at the hotel. Mason, playing on her self-assured efficiency, gets her to brag that she acted the part of a maid well. But, of course, a maid wouldn't stare at anyone, only a casual glance. Burger calls Mason., who quotes from 187 California 695 on a lawyer also being a witness. Mason holds back on certain questions, such as what Alburg asked him to do. Burger asks if the woman in the room didn't state that Alburg was trying to kill Fayette. Mason says if the woman were not Dixie, her statement would be irrelevant, if she were Dixie it would be a privileged communication. Burger won't ask directly if the woman was Dixie Dayton. Burger is caught in a web where the witness as attorney to one client cannot answer questions referring to the other unless Burger can prove by his own evidence the woman was Dixie. Burger gives up for the time, calls Frank Hoxie. He testifies to Alburg renting 815 for Mrs Madison Kerby. Dayton later asked for the Kerby key. On the day of the murder, he came in an hour before Mason, she a half hour. Mason goes after him. He's working in a third rate hotel at half normal pay for twice normal hours with no vacation because he was convicted of armed robbery. When he got out he had trouble getting a job until he got help from a police officer who sent him to the Keymont for the job of night clerk. The officer who got him the job keeps an eye on him; he's head of the Vice Squad. The management is, of course, anxious to cater to the D A. Mason now acquaints the Court with the situation surrounding the murder of Robert Claremont, and "it is the contention of the prosecution that it was because of an attempt to cover up that murder that Morris Alburg and Dixie Dayton planned the murder of George Fayette." Burger is forced to admit this is an accurate outline of his case. Now, the phone call. Why didn't he call the police. Because right after the woman called him, he called back to ask what the trouble was, and the woman laughed and said it was a gag. "Did it occur to you that another woman had answered your ring?" Mason calls Lt Tragg to come forth to show a photo of Claremont to the Hoxie. The witness "who never forgets a face" looks at the photo, his hand trembles, and he states that the night he was sent to Mexico, Claremont went up to the room of George Fayette. Mason bewilders the court with "These are all the questions I have." He leaves it up to Tragg to complete the questioning.


Mason demands of Dixie and Morris where he can find Sedgwick, says the police may no longer think him guilty. Morris tells her to give it to them.


Lt Tragg joins Paul, Perry and Della in Mason's office. He'd rather not tell the story, but knows they are entitled to it. Mason points out that Sedgwick had an implausible story. The Modus Operandi can link a crime to a person. Alburg had an implausible story. There was one question he didn't ask Hoxie, leaving that to Tragg, namely, did anyone else visit Fayette that night. The guy owned the Keymont, and the Bonsal Apartments, and probably one or more others. When Claremont found the identity of the man he was after, he never left the hotel alive. Guns were switched on Sedgwick. The Keymont was in the gambling racket. If Hoxie had not been sent to Mexico he would have seen Claremont's face in the paper, and he would have been in control over the owners. When Fayette stampeded Dixie into the alley, and Dixie ran and the Seattle police discovered Dixie had pawned Claremont's gun, Fayette became too hot, and had to be killed, the murder being framed on Dixie and Morris. Tragg is overcome as mason asks "The real owner of the hotel? The real head of the payoff?" It was Sergeant Jaffrey. He's dead, shot while resisting arrest, by Tragg.

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Fortieth Perry Mason Novel, © 1952;

The Case of the Grinning Gorilla

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Perry Mason


Chinese Cashier

Della Street

Psychologist (Alan Blevins)

Motel manager

Helen Cadmus

Two officers in radio car

Masculine voice

Benjamin Addicks

Various officers

Hamilton Burger

Public administrator

Uniformed officer at headquarters

Judge Mundy


Sergeant Holcomb

Two zoo experts

Mrs Josephine Kempton

Lieutenant Tragg

Lawyer Ginsberg


Drake's daytime switchboard girl

Jail matron

James Etna of Etna, Etna and Douglas

Addicks's yacht captain

Philip Groton

Friend of Etna

Yacht crewman

Handwriting expert

Employment friend of Etna

Two arresting officers

Howard Denny

Mortimer Hershey

Mrs Fern Blevins

Five other witnesses


B F Barnwell

Frank Cummings

Sidney Hardwick of Hardwick, Carson and Redding

Four newspaper reporters

Zoo officer

Etna's wife

Drake's nighttime switchboard girl

Police photographer

Night janitor

A Nevada Justice of the Peace

Dr R B H Gradwohl

Herman Barnwell

The Foreword to this novel is a dedication to Dr R B H Gradwohl who nearly thirty years before publication of The Case of the Grinning Gorilla started a police laboratory in the St Louis Police Department. This was the beginning of modern forensic investigation in that city. Gradwohl's work was largely instrumental in founding the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is mention at the end of Chapter 16 and in Chapter 16. This is the first instance of Mason using evidence from a living, non-fictional character.

The romance between Mason and Street has usually been squelched by Della. She says once married she'd miss all the fun of being with her boss, so has refused. Here we see her blush at a fortune in a Chinese fortune cookie.


At his usual 9:55 arrival for Monday, Perry Mason scaled his hat onto the bust of Blackstone. He tells Della Street that the younger generation is more flippant than their stuffy predecessors. He has a package, which he picked up by bidding $5 to help the public administrator get bidding started. His was the only bid. It is marked "Private personal belongings, matter of Estate of Helen Cadmus. Public Administrator's Office." She was the secretary to eccentric millionaire Benjamin Addicks. In the package are an English grammar, a dictionary, a couple of books on a shorthand system, some diaries, and a photograph album." Mason quickly finds a pin-up picture worth the $5. There's also "a whole mess of monkey pictures." Addicks has a collection of monkeys and apes. Della finds a diary entry that she reads to her boss; "Poor Pete seems to realize something is being done to him and he keeps clinging to me for protection. . . . I don't know whether the S P C A will do anything about this or not, but if I can't buy Pete I'm certainly going to do something about it." Mason notes Helen's body was never found. Gertie passes through a request from the Inquirer who wants to do a human interest story on Mason's find. A Mrs Kempton has a lawsuit against Addicks. Mason tells Della to send Jackson to the courthouse to see what can be found about the case.


When Mason enters his office Tuesday morning, Della asks him if he's seen the newspapers. He should see his photographs in the Inquirer. Also he should see the "three dollar bill who's sitting in the office." The phoney as a three-dollar bill man is Nathan Fallon, associated with Benjamin Addicks, and a distant relative of Helen Cadmus. The Kempton complaint is that she was fired without explanation by Addicks who has written letters accusing her of theft to every successive employer she's had. Fallon is unctuous when admitted, says Helen confided that she couldn't bear her responsibilities. His first offer of $5 for the Cadmus items is quickly rejected. Mason makes his "living by knowing something about law and something about human nature" and these diaries are useful. Fallon puts five $100 bills on Mason's desk. "That isn't the sort of compensation I'm looking for." Fallon adds another five bills. Mason says, "the diaries are not for sale." Fallon now admits that he did not want the diaries for sentimental reasons, that Addicks didn't know any diaries existed until the newspaper articles said so. He lets slip that there was one more diary than the four Mason has, the current one, then tries to retract his statement. His limit was $1,000, so he has to go back to Addicks. Mason tells Della to give a volume to Jackson, another to Gertie, and he and she take the other two, "Cancel appointments for today, throw that mail off the desk, and let's go to work."


Late Tuesday while only he and Della remain in the office, Perry confides that he's "not excluding the possibility of murder." Della, contrarily, is "at the point of excluding the possibility of accident and suicide." She sees Helen Cadmus as a "nice, normal, young girl with a beautiful body." She was in love, hated Nathan Fallon, loved animals, in particular one monkey named Pete. Mason notes that Addicks was experimenting with animals concerning teaching them under hypnosis to commit a homicide. Mason has discovered in his reading of the diaries that the monkey Pete had a habit of making off with knickknacks, such as Helen's compact, lipstick, earrings. His favorite hiding place was a Grecian urn. Mason calls him, discusses the case generally, learns that Kempton worked for Addicks for about two and a half years, then was summarily dismissed without explanation. Following this she had two jobs where she had to list Addicks as her former employer, and was dismissed after two weeks work even though her work had been satisfactory. Mrs Kempton became suspicious. So Etna had a friend write Addicks for recommendation, and got a letter explaining she was dismissed for dishonesty, "that a very valuable diamond ring . . . worth in the neighborhood of five thousand dollars, had disappeared; that a platinum watch . . . had disappeared . . ." Then Mrs Kempton got employment with a friend, and the same kind of letter came to this person. The case comes up day after tomorrow. An obstinate Addick won't retract. What about the discharge of Mrs Kempton with reference to the disappearance of Cadmus? Helen supposedly committed suicide two days before Mrs Kempton was dismissed. Mason tells Etna he might be able to help, later. Della is hungry. Mason says they'll have dinner, then go to Addicks and look in a Grecian urn. They decide to have "French bread, toasted to a delicious brown, and dusted with shredded garlic" since they are not working for Addicks.


A watchman stops Mason and Street at the gate to Addicks's mansion, which has the "pleasing architecture of a state prison," and is called Stonehenge. The place is walled and alarmed and guarded by dogs. Fallon greets them, takes them to Mortimer Hershey. Addicks's business manager then offers Mason $3.000 for the memorabilia, tax free. Mason says he came to see Addicks himself, rejects the offer. So Benjamin Addicks is called. Most of his face is bandaged, the result of a run-in with one of his gorillas. Mason suggests that morally he doesn't "think a man can really own any living thing." Addicks says he'll take legal title over moral issues. On the way out Mason has them turn over the Grecian urn. Out comes a diamond ring, a platinum watch, a wallet, a girl's compact and other items. "So that explains it" is Addicks's response. Fallon accuses Mason of planting the objects but Hershey says the attorney didn't go near the urn. Sidney Hardwick, Addicks's attorney, joins them, though Addicks says he won't see him. Hardwick is brought up to date on the findings in the urn and how the diaries led Mason there. Fallon recognizes the wallet as his. Mason refuses Hardwick's offer to join him, and Mason says he's not working for Mrs Kempton, either, tho he'll give James Etna the information. Hardwick suggests that Cadmus might have put the objects in the urn, then written in the diary that the monkey did it as a self-serving declaration. Mason and Street depart.


Mason stops at a pay phone to call Etna, whose wife says they have not yet gone to bed. Learning of the find, Etna suggests Mason associate himself in the case. Mason says his only interest is the death of Cadmus, and asks if Mrs Kempton would see him.


Kempton and Etna join Mason and Street. Etna says Addicks first offered $5,000, but he didn't accept. They went to $7,500. Again no. Then he asked if he had heard from Mason. The offer went to $20,000, and they took it. His fee is $5,000 and Mrs Kempton offers to share with Mason, who refuses, but asks for information on Helen Cadmus. Josephine says Helen was "very decorative and she knew it. She was very, very proud of her figure . . . there wasn't anything modest about Helen. . . . I think she was even more proud of her tan than he was of her &endash; well, of her curves." The suicide occurred on a trip to Catalina. There was a storm. It was Addicks, Helen, Josephine and the crew. He was dictating to her until it became too rough for her to type. She could have washed overboard, but she doesn't think so. Helen pored over her diary. She had few if any friends, wanted to go to Hollywood, a crowd with which Addicks was not friendly. His brother committed murder, she thinks, in Australia, and Addicks is afraid of what this might mean to him, a curse on the family. So he experiments with gorillas, with several trainers and one psychologist. The gorillas are caged in very strong, heavily barred cages. Some of the experiments were for confusing the gorillas. Back to Helen; there was an unfortunate love affair. She was evidently jilted. Further, she believes someone threw Helen's fifth diary overboard. She hated Fallon. If there is anything she wonders about it is the document Helen was typing in the stateroom on the yacht, which has disappeared. Before leaving, Josephine asks if Mason found an earring, and Della says she saw its mate. When Mason and Street are alone, the attorney says he feels it is murder. Both feel that there is "something about that woman" Kempton.


It is late at night and the switchboard in the outer office buzzes away at five minute intervals. Della answers, and Mason hears a frantic Josephine Kempton beg him to come to the back entrance of Addick's place. On the way out the night janitor comments on their haste. Mason violates a few traffic laws. They slow the car as he drives in front of Stonehenge, then go to the alley at the back. Mason alone goes into the back entrance, through the gorilla/chimpanzee/monkey room, dodging one very aggressive gorilla. In the house, Mason calls for Mrs Kempton, hears a beating, sees a gorilla beating a violent tattoo on the floor. There is a confrontation, but Mason goes into another room and shuts the door. There he finds Josephine, out cold, and Addicks with a knife in his back. The gorilla breaks down the door as Josephine regains consciousness. She tells Mason to put coins, his watch, whatever on the floor and get the gorilla's attention. He does, and this allows them to escape, shoes in hand. Along the way they hear sirens, dogs yelping, and a sound of a dog hit a glancing blow by an automobile. As they get to the alley at the back, a police car's headlights "pilloried them in a glare." Mason identifies himself to the officer, who makes them get into the police car. Mason cautions Kempton to say nothing.


Various officers converge on Addick's mansion. Della parks Mason's car, comes running down the alley, is called over by Mason, then forced to get in the police car and leave Mason's car, lights on, motor running, as the officer takes them to headquarters.


Mason is in a small witness room, Della is in another, and Mason's client a third. A uniformed officer chats with the attorney, admits Sergeant Holcomb has had Mason held this way, and officers are going over his car. Lieutenant Tragg joins him, asks Mason to "begin at the beginning." Mason goes through everything from the phone call in the office through finding the dead body to playing tag with a gorilla. Tragg takes him to Kempton. Mason writes a note to her indicating the place is probably bugged, and she asks for James Etna to join Mason before she says anything. A frustrated Tragg calls Mason outs, asks for a voluntary search. He gets Mason's notebook with the note for Josephine. Then Tragg says "There's some evidence against Mrs Kempton. She's going to be kept her all night and perhaps tomorrow." Mason says he has to charge her or he'll get a writ of habeas corpus. Tragg says that she and Benjamin Addicks were the only two people in the house, and one of those was stabbed to death.. [Oh, come; with this hint you can't help but figure out at least half of the solution right now!]


Della is waiting for Perry when he exits the police headquarters. They get to a phone booth and Mason reports to Etna, who turns the whole case over to Mason, says he'll use his newspaper contacts if that will help. Mason then gets Drake on the line, tells him to get everything on Addicks, and everything on the murder. "I suppose you want me to have it all ready by nine o'clock tomorrow morning." "You're wrong. I want it be eight-thirty."


Mason tells Drake's daytime switchboard girl to send her boss over, then greets Della. He calls headquarters, gets Holcomb, who says Kempton has been set free. Drake joins them, says too little is known about Benjamin Addicks (other than what we already know). He comes from a poor family with little education, goes in for mining deals in a big way. He pays cash, sells for cash. He's worth two or three million net. He may have been afraid of himself, wanting to kill someone or already having done so. He believed a man could be hypnotized, commit murder, awake and know nothing of it. He reports on Hardwick and Fallon. Both had alibis. He had secrets from them, disappearing now and then. Only the yacht's captain knew of it, and it was a yachtman who told Drake. Addicks used a ship to shore phone. Mason suggest Drake find the woman. Etna and Josephine Kempton arrive, so Drake leaves. Josephine asks about cashing a check by a dead man, including a cashier's check. She tells her story in full. She was phoned by Addicks who "laughed about the way he had to mumble with that bandage on." She took the bus, used her own key to enter by the alley, and just as she entered his room she saw a gorilla kill Addicks. She was blacked-out twice, awoke the second time just in time to help Mason. Her story won't be believed by a jury is about all Mason can say. Holcomb bursts in with two officers and arrests Kempton for first-degree murder. Mason and group search the office for planted microphones, cannot find any. Then Mason thinks, what if? Maybe she was put in a hypnotic trance and given the story she's told


Sidney Hardwick arranges for a meeting with Mason and Etna. Mason then goes for an update from Drake. Addicks had .32 percent of alcohol in his blood, which is truly drunk. Alan Blevins doubts an ape can be made to do anything in hypnosis but sleep, as the ape cannot recognize language signals given it. His wife divorced Blevins for mental cruelty. Mason returns to his office and agrees with Etna that the arrest of Josephine is unusual. Hardwick joins them, reveals part of Addicks's hand-written last will. It apologizes for his treatment of Kempton and leaves her $50,000. It leaves his business manager, Mortimer Hershey, $10,000 and Nathan Fallon $1. Other parts of the will are not read, and Hardwick will not give Mason Addicks's brother's last name. Hardwick suggests that the attorneys might set a fee too low without knowing what Kempton was to receive, but Mason sees through the hoax, while Etna doesn't. Mason hits him with his request to talk to Kempton; "You want to ask Josephine Kempton about the murder of Helen Cadmus." Hardwick also wants the diaries, and he has received a cablegram from Addicks's brother in Australia. Mason says the brother will contest the will and, if Kempton is guilty of murder, she cannot get her $50,000. Hardwick stalks out. Mason phones Drake to check the phone calls from the yacht and send operatives out with photographs to see with whom Addicks was shacked up with.


Gertie has closed the office and Della and Perry are alone. An incessant knocking heralds the arrival of the latest edition of the newspaper; POLICE HINT POSSIBILITY SECOND MURDER. Josephine Kempton is being questioned about the mysterious death of Helen Cadmus. The D A has stated "that Mrs Kempton has refused to give us anything more than the time of day." Mason tells Della to call in newspaper reporters for a statement, then goes to Drake who says the phone calls lead to one woman, Helen Cadmus, and to one of two motels. At the motels Addicks used the name of B F Barnwell. Mason tells Drake to look in Nevada motor courts for anyone registered under the name of Barnwell. Fern Blevins comes in, tells Mason her husband was quite a bit older than she, she was his second wife, he never stayed at Stonehenge but came home, and he hypnotized her. Forty-five minutes after being hypnotized she'd do things she couldn't account for. This is called post-hypnotic suggestion. Alan thought there was another man in her life, so he hypnotized her into writing out her story, took the papers. With this he'd have something to use on her in a divorce case. She found the papers, destroyed them, walked out of the house and never came back. She got her decree. She says Alan once hypnotized Josephine Kempton. On her way out she says Addicks was not the man's name, but Barnwell. Mason then tells the newspaper reporters that the holographic will is no good, because Addicks didn't make provisions for his wife . . . Helen Cadmus, who is not dead. The only person who saw Cadmus aboard the yacht was Addicks. Kempton only heard typing. Mason reads from the Helen's diary about her baby boy. Mason's clue that Helen wasn't typing is that nothing she typed nor her dictation notes were found. Further, photographs show that towels on the bathroom that connected Kempton's and Cadmus's staterooms shows only the towels near Kempton's to have been used.


Della's reaction as the four reporters scurry away is "You certainly took a button and sewed a vest on it." She and her boss settle down to rereading the diaries between the lines, and find evidence of the issue. When the issue came to a head, Addicks became afraid, is Mason's conclusion, that "something might happen to a woman he loved, and a child he wanted to love."


Perry and Della finish their Chinese dinner. When Della reads her fortune she quickly hides it, blushes when Mason says she hopes the fortune she picked was a personal message for her. Perry's says "To reach your goal, remember that courage is the only antidote for danger." Drake's nighttime switchboard girl puts Mason through to the detective. He reports that B F Barnwell and Helen Cadmus were married in a tiny Nevada town and the Justice of the Peace was told to send the papers to a small desert California town. Mason tries to pay with a ten dollar bill which includes a one dollar tip, but the Chinese Cashier says he has to have the waiter's check. Mason gives him fifty and sprints out. Three hours later they are at a motel where the manager gives them Mrs Barnwell's room number. She won't let them in until a masculine voice calls out for them to pipe down. They confront Helen in her room. He points out that he and Della have read between the lines in her diaries. He didn't do anything to her, he only discovered the facts. She admits Addicks couldn't clear up his problem with his first wife. Mason gets it; Addicks was worried that Helen would be in danger if a marriage with her were discovered. His first wife had a form of insanity, which made divorce impossible, that was dangerous, and she is not confined, but has escaped. She found Benny, and blackmailed him. But Benny wanted the child to have his name. Addicks used both Hershey and Fallon as messengers to deliver his wife money. Back to Kempton. She suspected. The monkey is being taken care of. But Helen believes Kempton killed her husband. She also says Benny made a big mistake; he ran away from his problem. Mason has Della arrange to take Helen into hiding.


Mason's interview with the newspapers has brought denunciation from Hardwick and Hamilton Burger. As he enters Court, Mason is informed by Etna that the D A expects him to ask for a continuance. He doesn't. Burger calls one of the radio officers who responded to the call at Stonehenge. Finally, says the officer, with two zoo experts, some drugged fruit, the apes that had escaped were back in their cages. The officer who took caught Mason coming out of Stonehenge is called, and Mason catches him stating that he and the defendant were "fleeing down Rose Street." Mason makes it look as if the officer were "fleeing" when taking him and the defendant downtown. Trial lawyer Ginsberg calls the jail matron, who testifies to taking Kempton's clothes and giving them to Philip Groton for examination, and examining Mrs Kempton's body, which has absolutely no skin broken. Jim Etna does the cross-examination; the D A instructed the matron. Groton, using the precipitin test, found human blood on Kempton's clothes. The officer who drove Mason, Street and Kempton downtown testifies to finding a cashier's check in the sum of $25,000 in the cushions of his car. It was made to Addicks, but signed over to Kempton. A handwriting expert states the signing over signature is a forgery. He admits he only thought it was a forgery. Howard Denny identifies a fingerprint, outlined in blood on the check, as Kempton's. He put the check back behind the car cushion and he and five other witnesses watched her come out and find the check. When Mason has no questions, Burger is caught off guard. Frank Cummings, a deputy sheriff, testifies to going to Kempton's apartment and setting up to see inside. When the defendant returned, she put the check in a book, where he found it after she departed her apartment. Mason makes the point he had no legal authority to enter the apartment. A zoo officer states he checked the apes, and found no blood stains. One gorilla, however, had blood on his foot where a piece of glass was embedded. Mortimer Hershey testifies to going to Addicks and sealing a will in an envelope, then signing it with Fallon. The night of the murder he was getting checks from outlying towns, worth about $85,000. He gives an example of how Addicks arranged his deals. An agreement for a hundred thousand dollars as the purchase price, half to be paid later, would be written up as a $300,000 deal. The books only showed the hundred thousand. Hershey says this was not for tax purposes, but to avoid a large settlement with is wife. Nathan Fallon admits that he doesn't know if Addicks's antics were for tax purposes. He picked up $150,000 in Nevada but took it to a bank, not wanting to carry that much cash. Mason gets the admission that Addicks was alone after he and Hershey left, because all the other help had been fired. This is what allowed Addicks to be attacked by one of the gorillas. A police photographer shows two photographs of Addicks, one clean-shaven, one with "a very appreciable growth of stubble." The undertaker shaved the face for the funeral. During a fifteen-minute recess, Mrs Kempton admits she tried to be smart and it backfired. She held out on the cashier's check, but the rest of her story is true. She did not forge the signature. Mason tells Etna they have an opening, asks if he has heard of Dr Gradwohl. Etna hasn't.


Mason recalls Groton and questions him about the precipitin test, specifically its history. He leads him to the question of whether or not he knows Dr R B H Gradwohl. Groton is not familiar with Groton's experiments and the fact he got the same reaction in the precipitin test with chimpanzee blood as he got with human blood, denying the previous accepted knowledge that the test could only work within a species. Thus, Groton finally cannot swear that the bloodstains he found on Kempton's clothing was not made by a gorilla. Groton says he wants to telephone Dr Gradwohl personally.


On the way away from the court, Mason has Della check to see if the brother of Addicks, Herman Barnwell, has arrived at Stonehenge. Yes, and he's anxious to see Mason. The attorney warns his secretary to stay near an exit, and far from him. At Stonehenge, Herman tells Mason all the gorillas have been sold to a zoo, and he will not contest the will. As to Benjamin, he murdered a man and the Australian police bungled the case. Herman goes to get drinks while Della looks at the Grecian urn. Hershey joins them. Then Della screams, as a gorilla is glimpsed through a door, "a terrible, grinning gorilla." Three shots are heard, then a gorilla appears, holding a large knife. Hershey fires three times, misses. Mason grabs the arm of the gorilla, hits him, brings his knee up against him, and the gorilla collapses. Hershey raises his revolver, points it as Mason, but the hammer only clicks. Hershey tries to reload as he backs towards the hall, but Della brings a stone image down on his head hard. Mason goes to the gorilla, unzips him, finds Herman Barnwell inside.


Mason tells Street and Drake that, had he been certain, he'd have called Tragg who would have searched and found the gorilla skin. Addicks had been cheating on income tax and had caught both Hershey and Fallon in embezzlements. Herman, however, had been in touch with Hershey and Fallon, offering them a fortune if they could manipulate so that Herman would inherit. After overpowering Benjamin and injuring him, Herman masqueraded as his brother. They lured Kempton to the house where she saw Herman as a gorilla stab to death an already drunk Benjamin. She noticed the natural fixity of expression and thought she was looking at a hypnotized gorilla. They had forged the check which they were certain she'd take. Then, when Hardwick came out, the false Benjamin had to say he'd not see him, whom he knew well, when he saw Mason, whom he didn't know at all. The photographs were the final proof, showing Addicks unshaven, then thirty-four hours after he saw the man cleanly shaven. Mason feels certain that the first Mrs Addicks is no longer alive, not having been heard of for 18 months. He explains that the only way he could find the truth was the way he did, and he wouldn't have done it had there been three rather than two men at Stonehenge. Mason tells Della he went back to the Chinese restaurant to get the change from his $50 bill and was given her coin purse, which must have fallen from her purse. The fortune paper was gone, he assures Mason. He goes out to call Helen Cadmus and pulls out the fortune. It reads "If yo marry him you will be very happy and present him with a man child who will be very like his father." He puts it deeply in a corner of his wallet, and phones Cadmus.

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