The Perry Mason novels of Erle Stanley Gardner

PART FIVE; THE FIFTH TEN NOVELS (41 - 50) and one novelette

This and related pages are copyright © MMV W A Storrer

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

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

The Case of the;

Irate Witness

Glamorous Ghost

Hesitant Hostess

Sun Bather's Diary

Green-eyed Sister

Nervous Accomplice

Fugitive Nurse

Terrified Typist

Runaway Corpse

Demure Defendant

Restless Redhead

Third Perry Mason Novelette, © 1953;

The Case of the Irate Witness

Jebson workers

Motorcycle officer

D A Vernon Flasher

Frank Bernal

Della Street

Judge Haswell

Tom Munson

Harvey L Corbin

Ivanhoe County spectators

Ralph Nesbitt

Mrs Corbin

Harry Reedy

Perry Mason

Paul Drake

Sheriff Charles J Oswald

Deputy sheriff

George Addey

The placing of this in the canon of Perry Mason murder mysteries is problematic. The Case of the Irate Witness is copyright 1953, called a novelette some places, but actually a true short story, only one chapter long, written after The Case of the Grinning Gorilla though not necessarily after either of the 1953 novels, The Case of the Hesitant Hostess (the fortieth novel) and The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister, and was published by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. One advantage of the short story format is the short cast of characters, with fewer opportunities for Gardner to suggest wild goose chases for us.


The big siren on the Jebson Commercial Company screams shrilly. Men formed a line to learn that a jagged hold had been cut into one door of the old safe on this pay day, the fifteenth of the month. Manager of the Jebson mine, Frank Bernal, arrives to find night watchman Tom Munson in a drunken slumber. Ralph Nesbitt, who had pointed out the safe was obsolete when Bernal was appointed over him, is silent.


Perry Mason, having had to wait until midnight for a jury verdict, is speeding along a mountain road when he is stopped by police. A deputy sheriff asks Mason for his driving license as a motorcycle officer looks on. The deputy thinks Mason "a live clue" as the attorney drives away. So the next morning, Della Street reads stories in the metropolitan newspapers indicating that Mason has been retained to represent the person or persons who looted the Jebson vault, even before his "client" was apprehended.


Della tells Perry, long distance, that he has a client, Harvey L Corbin, who has a criminal record; robbery. He was fired the evening before the robbery. Mrs Corbin (and her daughter) are to be allowed to stay in town until her husband can find another place to live. She's been calling Della ever since the newspapers said Mason would defend him; she's standing by her husband.


Paul Drake tells Mason that Corbin is guilty. Money he gave his wife came from the stolen vault money. The town is controlled entirely by Jebson, except one old coot, George Addey, who collects the garbage and keeps every nickel he has earned in cans he's buried. The watchman was drugged in the whiskey he took to keep awake. The nearest bank is in Ivanhoe City and the payroll is brought up to the mine twice a month.


Vernon Flasher, Ivanhoe County DA, and Judge Haswell are ready, but local spectators look upon Mason as "a legal magician with a cloven hoof." Bernal is first to testify and he says that to save money he installed the best burglar alarm money could buy, employed a special night watchman, and made arrangements with Ivanhoe National Bank to have the twenty-dollar bills numbers recorded. Harry Reedy, assistant cashier at the bank, testifies to the system by which the numbers were recorded. Sheriff Charles J Oswald is stopped from testifying that Mrs Corbin got her money from her husband until Flasher points out that the money would be community property. Mason recalls Bernal, who explains that the money comes in a sealed package. He keeps the list of twenties in his locked drawer. The prosecution rests. Mason calls for a subpoena duces tecum on George Addey to appear with all his twenty dollar bills.


Addey is outraged but Mason begins checking his twenties, an finds several match the list of stolen bills. The court recesses for an hour to check the list further.


Della, Paul and Perry are in the lobby of the Ivanhoe Hotel when D A Flasher and Judge Haswell approach. Bernal has disappeared. The explanation has to do with the list of numbers. It was kept by Bernal, who got his pay on the first, and the numbers on his bills were on page eight of the list, which he then put in the fifteenth list. He then paid-off Corbin with these bills, which got passed on to his wife. That was the trap. Mason let Bernal know he knew by calling in Addey. When Bernal skipped out, his flight was evidence of his guilt.

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Forty-first Perry Mason Novel, © 1953;

The Case of the Hesitant Hostess

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Harry Fritch


Daphne Howell, long deceased

Perry Mason

Tuxedoed man

Jim, Drake's man

Judge Egan

Mary Brogan


Martha Lavina

aka Albert Brogan

Man tailing Mary

The defendant, aka

Smooth-talking man at the jail

Swedish janitor

Rodney Archer

Three Drake operatives

Dr Pete Hanover

Inez Kaylor

James Darwin


Paul Drake

Unidentified woman going to Darwin

Arrapahoe Hotel operator

Della Street

Process server

Arrapahoe Hotel cashier

Drake's night switchboard operator

Two ambulance attendants

Purse manufacturer

Villa Lavina Number Three doorman

Detective Smith

Mr Kaylor

Villa Lavina Number Three headwaiter

Hard-boiled prisoner

Mrs Kaylor (mother)

Petty Kaylor

Two plain-clothes men

Dr Doyle

Villa Lavina Number Three hat check girl

A girl, later Janice Clubb

Lieutenant Tragg

Villa Lavina Number Three chauffeur

Sergeant Holcomb

The foreword, in the paper edition, but not the Detective Book Club hardcover, honors by dedication, Dr. Milton Helpern. This eminent member of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City and author, with Dr Thomas A Gonzales and Dr B Morgan Vance , of Legal Medicine and Toxicology, is noted for his studies of spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage (a form of damage to the brain) on which he lectured for Captain Frances G Lee at Harvard University's School of Medicine.

Here's an interesting twist; we don't even get the name of Mason's client until the fourth chapter. Further, we don't see Lieutenant Tragg until the penultimate chapter, by which time Mason has solved the case in his own mind, we the reader should know the important element that brings about that solution.

"Swell" may be outdated now, but it certainly wasn't in the fifties.

The Perry Mason mystery novels are an historical document of Los Angeles from the mid-thirties into the early sixties. Here we have hydramatic drive mentioned in the car of one witness. It is 1953, when automatic transmissions were still quite rare.

Readers in the new millennium may be quick to see what flying to Mexico City and Cuba might mean and catch on to the scam behind the scam. It is all there at the end of a cross-examination!

Previously, Mason has used a pseudonymous Los Angeles newspaper; here he identifies the Times and the Examiner.

Here we have one of the longest courtroom scenes, fifty-one pages in the Detective Book Club edition (and certainly longer in the original Morrow edition), chapter 14, a precursor to the courtroom scenes of the television series

Chilean red wine is noted here, long before it became popular as an inexpensive quality alternative to French red in the 1990s.

Here there is a Harry Fritch; in the next novel, The Case of the Green-eyed Sister, there is a JJ Fritch. Further, in the next novel there is a George Brogan, and here a Mary and Albert Brogan. To complicate things, here Dr Hanover is someone closely associated with Perry Mason. In the following novel Dr Hanover is the autopsy surgeon. Here we have a Dr Doyle, later an Edison Doyle. Finally, the re is Inez and Petty Kaylor here, and Judge Kaylor next.


Assistant D A Harry Fritch bides time until he has Perry Mason trapped with too little time to make his case as he wants. Mason tries to get Judge Egan to put off his cross examination until after the weekend. Mason is forced to cross examine Martha Lavina, who is certain she has identified Mason's client as the criminal who stuck a gun in the face of Rodney Archer, while she was sitting next him. They were en route to The Villa Lavina Number Two, stopped at a traffic light, when they were held up. While the police were interviewing Archer, she went on to the Villa Lavina with Inez Kaylor. Mason takes his time, gets her to admit that she was shown a photo of his client by Archer with a policeman, and was told that this was the criminal. Then she identified the man in a lineup, as Mason insists, more from the photo than from memory. He also gets her to think a hole in the car upholstery was caused at the time of the robbery. Judge Egan calls a weekend recess exactly at five. Mason was going to call in Inez Kaylor to refute Lavina, but she skipped, as Paul Drake ruefully notes. Archer comes to Mason, demanding to be allowed to sit in the courtroom and hear the other witnesses. Mason declines.


Perry and Paul are greeted at the attorney's office by Della Street. Mason thinks Kaylor is the alibi for Lavina, who is the alibi for Archer, though probably not actually in the car. Mason explains how he got stuck with this charity case, and orders Drake to find Inez Kaylor, whatever the cost.


9:45 in the evening; Mason asks Drake's switchboard operator if he is in, learns that the detective has been trying to reach him. Drake reports that he has found Kaylor, working at The Villa Lavina Number Three. Mason's car is parked by a Villa Lavina Number Three doorman, and the lawyer tips the headwaiter $5 to get a table with a good location. Another $5 eventually brings Inez Kaylor, known as Petty, to Mason's table. After friendly sparring and some dancing, and a couple of drinks, which Kaylor says are unnecessary, and a tip to the hat check girl, she leads him to a chauffeured limousine where, with curtains drawn, a twenty-two minute drive leads them to the back of a building and the smell of onions cooking. Inside they pass through a bar, are greeted by a tuxedos man who recognizes Mason and identifies him to Petty. They get $200 in chips from the cashier and go to the roulette tables, where Mason eventually wins, then loses, breaking even. Petty wins $600, cashes in on Mason's advice. The drive back to the Villa Lavina Number Three takes only six and one-half minutes, shortened due to Mason's questioning Petty about her involvement with Martha Lavina in the robbery. Mason returns to the restaurant, continues into back halls where he smells cooking onions, goes up some stairs and finds the gambling parlor, in which he is now unwelcome. Mason again plays $200 worth of chips, loses all before being joined by Martha Lavina. She cannot understand why he is defending "A down-and-out derelict of humanity." She tries to get Mason to have her client accept a plea with the D A, but Mason refuses.


Della phones Perry at 11:15 a m. Mary Brogan, niece of Mason's client, Albert Brogan, took the bus straight from St Louis when she heard of her uncle's trouble. At his office he hears Mary's tale of work and more work, but she also understands a law office isn't cheap to run. She has $385 to help out, because her uncle would never ask for help. She says a smooth-talking man at the jail told her her uncle could plead to misdemeanor and would get probation, and that Mason asked too many questions and important people would throw the book at her uncle if he didn't do this. So she came to Mason, because she distrusts smooth-talking men. Mason learns she plays poker, strip, stud and draw. So he suggests a bluff, and that she should talk with Inez Kaylor. "So you want me to wade into the battle and smite the Philistines hip and thigh?" she asks. "That's the general idea."


Mason explains how and why the gambling place is set up as itinerant. It is clear that important people, including the police who let a gambling place operate, will be arrayed against Mason. Another note; Kaylor is leading a double life, with apartments here and in Las Vegas. Drake is told to get the low-down on Rodney Archer, who is into real estate and sold two of the Villa Lavina to Martha Lavina, so must know police who listen to reason.


Mason joins Drake's operative, one of three watching Kaylor's apartment, and through the binocular setup sees a woman ring 409, the apartment of James Darwin. Then the process server enters and, when he comes out, Mary Brogan goes in. She is not in long, comes out and goes straight to a telephone booth. Shortly Paul calls Perry; Kaylor has swallowed a handful of sleeping pills. Mason tells him to call the police. Shortly and ambulance arrives and two attendants take a woman out and drive off. Then a police radio car arrives, gets no answer at the apartment, and leaves. Mason and Drake's operative cannot decide why the ambulance arrived first.


Mason tells Drake that things don't fit together. Perhaps there are two Kaylor girls, Inez and Petty, perhaps twins. Check everything, including "Lavina's" purse.


Mason visits his client. Brogan tells him how a detective named Smith offered him an easy way out. Then he was ushered out into a tan Chevrolet with damaged fender. Two plain-clothes men can by with a girl who got into the car, then left. Back in his cell, Smith denied any offer, and Mason's last sight as he leaves the jail is of Brogan with Sergeant Holcomb. Drake passes on from his operative Jim the fact that Janice Clubb has identified Brogan as the murderer of Daphne Howell.


Della knew when her boss walked in that things were not going well. Mason tells her about the police trick of putting Brogan in a tan Chevrolet with a banged-up bumper and having him identified as the driver of that car in which the body of Daphne Howell had been transported to a vacant lot and dumped. Now they want to be sure he is convicted of the robbery, so they can use that felony against him in a murder trial. Della has Gertie get Mary Brogan to join them and she tells her story of how Kaylor claimed that she was "hounded" and then got the pills and swallowed them. Then Mason explains the problem of getting fingerprints in Kaylor's apartment, to check if there are two Kaylors, Inez and Petty. Paul Drake brings fingerprinting equipment to the office and explains the technique of lifting a print and Mary heads off to Kaylor's apartment. She returns soon, with a tale of being followed. He sends the girls to Della's, goes to see Drake.


Back at his office, he finds a note from Della saying she, with Mary, are at her apartment. Later he gets a frantic call from Della, who has decided to do the fingerprinting. When Mason gets to Kaylor's, however, there is an out-cold woman on the bed, rescued by Della from a closet. He phones Dr Hanover who rushes to them, thinks the unconscious woman will survive. Mason wonders if this is the woman Mary saw take the pills. He repeats his conviction that, though the name is the same, the character is different from the Kaylor he met, and the one Drake brought back from Las Vegas. Hanover gives a hypo to the unconscious woman. Mason phones the police, fakes a Swedish accent, asks why they haven't come to his suicide call earlier, why did they stop at the door and not come up. A doctor is now caring for her. He hangs up, having thus given Dr Hanover his alibi for being there.


Mason tells Della that they are going to "take a powder," but their flight will not be evidence of guilt. The go to Las Vegas by private plane to find evidence. The pilot offers them a cheap return the next day, but Mason tells Della they will return by train. They go to Inez Kaylor's apartment and her key opens the front and room doors. The room has been ransacked. The kind of mess indicates to Mason that whatever was being looked for is "small, flat and valuable." Mason lifts a few fingerprints, then the door buzzer interrupts them, then a knock, and finally a man enters. Thomas Gibbs is allowed to believe Mason is a police detective, and that Della is the sister of the Kaylor with whom he spent the previous evening, losing $200 at a gambling place. Mason demands proof of who he is, and Gibbs picks up a circular letter on the desk, smears ink on his thumb, make several prints, has Mason compare them with the thumb print on his license, then stuffs the circular in his pocket. He has come to pick up a few things for Kaylor and send them back to Martha Lavina. He is very scared, but Mason smells something fishy, suggests he and Della scram after Gibbs leaves.


At a quiet cocktail lounge, Della hears a radio report that she and her boss have come to Las Vegas go get a long -expected marriage consummated. Then Mason wakes up to the fact that Gibbs has gotten what he wanted, a circular letter. They go to the Arrapahoe Hotel at which Gibbs is registered only to find from the operator that he checked out a quarter hour earlier. Mason discovers from the cashier's records that Gibbs made three calls to Los Angeles in the four hours he was in town, and Della determines the number is of the Villa Lavina Number Two. The return to Kaylor's apartment and Mason notes the missing letter was for the Aphrodite modeling agency. Drake has discovered the manufacturer of the purse that Lavina carried the night of the robbery, specially made with a heavy mirror. Archer is a rich widower. Mason and Street search the two Los Angeles newspapers and find an ad from the Aphrodite Model Agency.


Drake reports that he believes Lavina was with Archer during the robbery, because the stolen purse is Martha's. Gibbs is a phoney. The modeling agency sends girls to Cuba and Mexico for ads related to the plane company and resorts. Mason has Mary Brogan and Della, and some Drake operatives, answer the ad. Drake says that the hospitalized woman is Inez Kaylor, and her husband and mother have shown up, fired Dr Hanover and put in a Dr Doyle.


Monday. Court. Mason makes a motion to dismiss the jury, whose faces have indicated they've read about Albert Brogan being arrested for the Howell murder. Judge Egan rejects the motion, admonishes Fritch for allowing the information to be leaked. Mason gets a stipulation to keep witnesses out of the courtroom except when testifying, and not after. Martha Lavina was on the stand Friday, but Fritch recalls Rodney Archer, who proceeds to "clear up" his testimony, saying he dropped the cigarette lighter on the seat when the robber entered the car, causing the burn hole that shows in police photos. Mason gets him to admit that, in the approximately ten seconds maximum he had to see the burglar, hardly a second was when the robber's face was open to Archer, and that in darkness when Archer had his eyes accustomed to the red street light and bright neon sign across the intersection. Martha Lavina returns, and is eventually flustered by Mason over her silver cigarette holder, which had to be stolen with her purse, yet which, in a convoluted explanation, somehow was not. Mason has notice that Lavina has done her best to conceal her open purse when she has had to reach into it, and he noted a yellow paper. He tells Drake to get it when Lavina tries to dispose of it. She has claimed to have not talked with Archer, but not replied directly to whether or not she communicated with him. During a recess, Dr Doyle is called and arrangements are made for Kaylor to testify in the afternoon, with the doctor in court. Drake gets the paper and it is a statement as to what Rodney and Martha had for dinner. Mason wants to recall Lavina, but the prosecution has rested, so Mason calls her as his witness! With the note and Judge Egan's help, Mason gets Lavina very flustered and discredits her. The Archer is recalled and is caught in perjury saying he never communicated since the robbery with Lavina; he did, in the D A's office, with the note not in evidence!


Back at his office, Mason finds Lieutenant Tragg waiting. The attorney tells the officer part of the story, but is interrupted by a phone call, with no one at the other end. Mason rushes with Tragg lagging behind, to Drake, who says he didn't call, so Mason knows it was Della, the only other person with the number of his private line. They rush to the apartment of James Darwin, the Aphrodite Modeling Agency, and find Thomas Gibbs, and Della Street tied to a bed. She says Gibbs recognized her when she arrived, acted as if he didn't, then she was knocked out cold, woke tied to the bed. Mason finds a stash of thick mirrors, such as are in Lavina's purse, and one is broken open, revealing about $20,000 in uncut heroin. Tragg uses Holcomb-style rough tactics to get Gibbs to tell where Inez Kaylor is.


"Mason, Della Street, Paul Drake, Mary Brogan and Albert Brogan sat in the lawyer's office." Tragg arrives with the real Inez Kaylor, the one Drake brought in from Las Vegas, who now explains the operation. When her marriage failed, she came to Los Angeles, answered the modeling agency ad, and was eventually sent to Mexico with "a complete traveling outfit, suitcase, overnight bag and a purse . . .property of the modeling agency . . . the value of the purse was one hundred dollars . . . an absurdly high valuation." Next she went to Cuba. Then she worked for Martha Lavina. She knew they could hire someone in Mexico much cheaper than sending her, but she asked too many questions. When she left, another girl took her name. When she disappeared at court, it was because a man identifying himself as Perry Mason's associate asked her to come to his office. In the car, a woman in the back seat was introduced as Della Street. She stuck her accidentally with a pin and suddenly everything went black. They took her to the Windmore Arms Apartment where Petty lived, and Petty was ready to take a big shot of sugar pill in front of the process server, but the server left too quickly, so it was Mary Brogan that saw the act. They had an ambulance waiting, and spirited Petty away, while Inez, drugged, was left in the closet. It was Daphne Howell, who had figured the heroin scheme out and was demanding a bigger payoff, who was riding with Archer when he was robbed. She was replaced by Martha after the robbery. Archer wanted to get the situation off his back and actually didn't want the robber caught, so describe the car he knew Gibbs had stolen earlier. Gibbs, the big shot in the dope racket, took Howell, pretending he'd pay her off and get rid of her, then killed her. The police picked up Brogan and charged him, so Archer and Lavina pinned it on him hoping this would get the police off further investigation. Then Holcomb read about the tan Chevy with crumpled fender, put Brogan in and had Archer and Lavina identify him. Martha and Albert agree they wish they could compensate Mason. The attorney reassures them; both Archer and Lavina are rich, and deliberately planned to get Albert convicted. After Mason gets done cross-examining the two, the Brogan's will be rich.

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Forty-second Perry Mason Novel, © 1953;

The Case of the Green-eyed Sister

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Della Street

Paul Drake

Judge Kaylor

Perry Mason

Drake's operatives


Sylvia Bain Atwood

Edison Doyle


Hattie Bain

Sam Atwood, deceased

Deputy D A Delbert Moon

Jarrett Bain

Sergeant Holcomb

Dr Hanover

Phoebe Bain

Elevator operator

Emma Lorton

Ned Bain

Two or three passengers

Emma's neighbor

Jeremiah Josiah ("J J") Fritch

Dr Flasher

Frank Haswell

George Brogan

Lt Arthur Tragg

Erle Stanley Gardner dedicates this book to Ralph F Turner, author of Forensic Science and Laboratory Techniques, whose work, nationwide and at Michigan State (then) College, spread the value of the field of Police Science study.

The solution to this murder mystery is one of the most famous of all written by Erle Stanley Gardner.

In another demonstration of recording history, literally, in the first chapter Mason demonstrates a high fidelity wire recorder of German manufacture. Wire recorders gave way to tape recording because of the poor fidelity of wire. This was caused by the thickness of the wire; only the part closest to the recording head had a high signal and in playback the wire rotated, so the signal level went up and down much like a roller-coaster. Flat tape solved this. Germans invented tape recording. Here, the wire is apparently so thin, that it takes a full sound image on its entire circumference.

Coincidence, or what? Here are a J J Fritch and George Brogan, while in the previous novel, The Case of the Hesitant Hostess, there is a Harry Fritch and Mary and Albert Brogan. Dr Hanover here is the autopsy surgeon for the prosecutor, in the previous novel, Dr Hanover is Mason's close friend and confidential doctor. Here there is Edison Doyle, there a Dr Doyle. To top it off, we meet Judge Kaylor here, and the Hesitant Hostess is Inez Kaylor.

We've met Lt Tragg in earlier Perry Mason novels, but here we learn his first name for the first time, Arthur.

If the previous novel, The Case of the Hesitant Hostess, had a long trial scene, here that trial, Chapter Fourteen, is even longer, fifty-four pages (in the Detective Book Club edition), the longest so far in all the Gardner novels.


"Della Street, Perry Mason's confidential secretary, handed the lawyer a scented, engraved oblong of pasteboard." She warns Mason about the green-eyed prospective client. Sylvia Bain Atwood opens with "The best is always the cheapest." She is a widow with no children. Her family; sister Hattie Bain, brother Jarrett Bain, his wife Phoebe, and her father, Ned Bain. She is being blackmailed, and wants to protect her family from it. Her father got into oil with a loan from Jeremiah Josiah Fritch ("J J"), who may have gotten it by way of a robbery by acting as a bank examiner. George Brogan, private detective, has indicated the bank may claim Ned Bain's oil properties belong to them. Mrs Atwood wants Mason to meet Brogan and pay J J's demands and get a tape that supposedly has her father talking to J J. Mason phones Paul Drake, and learns that Brogan lives the high life. After getting a big retainer from Mrs Atwood, Mason phones Brogan and gets an appointment. He gets a German wire recorder that operates from a microphone that appears to be a hearing aid, demonstrates its high fidelity.


In Drake's office, Mason learns what Drake wouldn't say over the phone with a client next Mason, namely that Brogan is a clever blackmailer who works as a go between, so he's never been caught. Mason tells Drake he intends to record the tape, and Drake tells him to be careful.


Mason and Atwood are greeted by Brogan who is affable, but wary. Brogan won't leave either Mason or Atwood alone with the tape, so they go together into the kitchen and mix each his own drink, so no one can put knock-out drops in the other's drink. Brogan and Atwood go back to the living room while Mason, having found a magnetic knife holder, removes first the knives, then the magnet. Mason slips the magnet under the cloth covering the table on which the recorder is located. After hearing the recording, the tape is set on the cloth. Mason demands to see if the tape is spliced. The recorder is turned around so the lawyer can see the tape pass through the machine but, when played, there is no sound. Brogan is panicked, but assures Mason and Atwood it is the machine, not the tape.


Paul Drake joins Perry and Della and Mason explains the operation and how a tape was inter-spliced with an innocent conversation between Ned Bain and J J Fritch in a room with normal echoes and specially recorded leading statements by Fritch in an echo-free studio, then a splice-free copy made. Drake can hear this. Brogan calls, says he is at his office and the machine is fixed. Mason now knows Brogan has the master tape in his apartment, as Drake's operatives know he has not left since Mason and Atwood departed. Sylvia phones to say that Fritch has phoned Ned Bain directly.


As Sylvia drives Mason to the family home, he learns of Edison Doyle, Hattie's boyfriend who, having first taken a liking to the quiet at-home girl, may now be waking up to the livelier life Sylvia leads. Mason learns, too, of Sam Atwood, who died a year and a half earlier. At the house he meets Hattie, Edison, and Ned Bain. A phone call from Drake lets Mason know that Fritch has an apartment directly across from Brogan. Mason explains the making of the fake tape to Bain, who wants no publicity.


Della and Perry go to Brogan's. There is a note on the door indicating Brogan has been delayed by a poker game. Mason realizes they've been set up. Before he can cover, a scream comes from Brogan's apartment, the Sylvia opens the door. Fritch is dead, inside the apartment. Mason works a cover, and goes into Fritch's apartment. He finds a freezer stocked for a long stay if needed. At the prearranged signal, he follows Sylvia into Brogan's apartment, and Della has the note, which she gives to Perry. Brogan finds the body, accuses the trio of murder, and calls the police.


For two hours Sergeant Holcomb has been interviewing everyone but Mason. When he interrogates Mason, the attorney outfoxes him, carefully avoiding answers that will give Holcomb a chance to pin anything on him or his client, Sylvia, or Della. Even after Holcomb threatens Mason with a charge of first-degree murder, the lawyer is able to state he's going to walk out unless charged, which Holcomb, reluctantly, realizes he hasn't the evidence needed to do.


Drake reports that Fritch was stabbed with an ice pick. Brogan had an electric icebox and had ice cubes for his drinks, as did Fritch. The Bain household has both an electric icebox and an old-fashioned ice chest. The murder was between midnight and three, and Brogan was playing poker with friends at this time. At five he went out for about a half hour to raise money and he finally left about eight-thirty. A witness at the apartment saw Sylvia Atwood parking her car about eight-thirty. Fritch had enough food to withstand a year's siege. A phone call from Della informs her boss that Ned Bain is dead. Mason dashes for the building elevator, causing curiosity among passengers as the operator takes the machine quickly to the ground floor. At the Bain's, Dr Flasher states Ned died of natural causes and he'll sign a death certificate indicating death about five or six in the morning. Jarrett Bain has arrived from prowling ruins in the Yucatan. Sylvia tells Mason that her dad killed J J. She followed her dad to the apartment, and wants Mason to tell the police. She has the original tape, which she found under her dad's pillow, and the ice pick, which is a Bain ice pick! Edison Doyle joins them, with the tape. As Della and Perry leave, the secretary says she can "count two" murders.


Mason and Street return to the office, where they play back the tape, quietly. They are interrupted by Lt. Arthur Tragg, who has a warrant. He plays fair with Mason, warning the attorney that Brogan had a microphone picking up whatever was said in the hall or apartment. Tragg leaves with the tape, after repeating Brogan's alibi.


Sylvia tells Mason how she knows it was her dad she followed to J J's apartment. She saw someone come out of the elevator, not her dad, but woman, so she went up to Brogan's apartment, found the note, went in, but didn't find Fritch. She went home, came back after eight-thirty, found the body in the closet. She thinks she should tell the police.


Paul Drake reports what is on the news, that Ned Bain killed J J Fritch, and the tape has been found through "vigorous, intelligent work" in the office of "a prominent downtown lawyer" whose initials were P M. Jarrett Bain joins them, admits to having arrived before the four o'clock his telegram indicated, and that Ned Bain never left the house, but Hattie did. Only Doyle knows he arrived before one o'clock. Bain goes off to tell Holcomb his story.


Sylvia is back, with yet another story. She now realizes it must have been Hattie she saw leaving the apartment building. Hattie has been arrested. The police found the ice pick in the same drawer Sylvia had hidden the tape, in Hattie's room. Sylvia thinks a wire of a new finding could get Jarrett out of town, and she also thinks Mason is too conservative. She writes him a check to defend Hattie.


Hattie tells Mason she went to see J J, and she has told this to the police; "It's the duty of a good citizen to cooperate.


Spectators crowd Judge Kaylor's court as the bailiff brings events to order. George Brogan is called by deputy D A Delbert Moon to prove the death of Fritch, having seen the body at the morgue. Mason goes after him regarding when he first saw Fritch dead, which Brogan dodges. Questions then lead to the relationship between Brogan and Fritch. Dr Hanover, the autopsy surgeon, testifies to post-mortem lived-in and rigor mortis as the means by which he has decided Fritch was killed between midnight and three. Mason shows that the doctor is prejudiced against the accused. A question of how the body fell out of the liquor cabinet, and whether blood stains were found on the carpet, is inconclusive. Emma Lorton, apartment resident , testifies to seeing Hattie come to J J's apartment down the hall while she was awaiting a neighbor. Mason confuses her and discredits her testimony by showing she was coaxed by the police to identify a photo of Fritch and Hattie alone, not in a lineup. Frank Haswell states he found fingerprints of Harriet Bain, Perry Mason, Sylvia Atwood, J J Fritch, George Brogan and Sergeant Holcomb. Mason gets him to admit any of these could have been made up to seventy-two hours before he too the latents, so, of course, even Holcomb could have committed the murder. Brogan is now recalled to testify to two tapes, the one he made in the hall and apartment, and the one of Bain and Fritch. Mason stops admission of the former, because it has nothing to do with his client, who was not his client at the time the tape was made. Brogan admits he was concerned when Mason made the Bain-Fritch tape go blank, and also concerned when he learned it was not the original as claimed by Fritch. Mason queries him about his relationship with Fritch, and why he should want to help the Bains. Then he bears in on the time element, the poker game in which Brogan was involved. Brogan asks, "Now then, Mr Mason, suppose you figure out how I could have possibly committed a murder that was committed between midnight and three o'clock in the morning by leaving a poker game at five o'clock." Mason tells the judge he wants to answer Brogan, and explains how it could have been done by removing the frozen food from Fritch's deepfreeze icebox, putting Fritch in there around five, then taking him out at eight-twenty, when he was supposedly having breakfast in a restaurant (which he cannot name), and putting him in the liquor cabinet where Sylvia found him. Courtroom uproar. Now Brogan takes the fifth. Dr Hanover is brought back , Della piles books on the defense table, and Mason cautions Hanover before asking if the conjecture about use of the deep-freeze could be possible. Mason suggests a trip to the apartment.


Mason takes a pasteboard container of ice cream from the deep-freeze and shows the judge that the ice cream has thawed and been refrozen. A livid Holcomb is forced to remove all the foodstuffs, and blood stains are found in the bottom of the freezer.


The trio, Mason, Street and Drake, are in the attorney's office. Mason has figured that post-mortum lividity indicated the body lay on it s back, but this was impossible if the body was in the liquor cabinet. Someone tampered with the evidence, since Hattie saw Fritch alive after midnight. Drake gets a phone call; stains in the bottom of the icebox match Fritch's rare blood type. Fingerprints outlined in blood on packages taken out of the deep-freeze are not Sylvia's, Hattie's, Ned Bain's, Mason's, nor George Brogan's! Mason points out they could be Doyle's, or Jarrett's. They'll never know about Jarrett, because he's already gone back to the Yucatan, courtesy of "the green-eyed sister. Little Miss Fix-It" who sent him a telegram about a new find.

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Forty-third Perry Mason Novel, © 1954;

The Case of the Fugitive Nurse

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Click HERE to go to a related TV episode

Della Street

Erin Apartments manager

Malden cook

Switchboard operator

Perry Mason

Ramon Castella

. . . aka Edna Colebrook

Ed Duarte

Dr Summerfield Malden

Ray Spangler

[Harry Colebrook]

Taxi driver

Steffanie Malden

Erin spectators

Judge Telford

A Denver man with Burger

[Charles Amboy]

Erin bystander

Courtroom spectators

Two Denver officers

Gladys Foss

Photographers and reporters

Carl Hurley

Airline hostess


Drake's photographer

Assistant Madison Irwin

Mrs Charlotte Boomer

[Two stenographers]

Information officer

Airport employee

Court clerk

Well-dressed woman, aka . . .

Hamilton Burger

Dudley Lomax

Sgt Holcomb

Paul Drake

Holding officer

Millicent Kirby

Dr Reedley Munger

Drake's operatives

Darwin Kirby

Horace L Redfield

Dr Charles Ennis

Restaurant waiter

Malden maid

Paul Winnett

A dead mob boss

In his Foreword, Erle Stanley Gardner dedicates this book to S R Gerber, M D, Coroner of Cuyahoga County; Ohio. Gerber became the coroner of Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland and many of its suburbs, in 1937. Recognizing the need of a coroner to understand the legal implications of his fin dings, he studied law and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1949.

From steak Mason now goes to prime ribs of beef, and his preferred drink is a Bacardi cocktail.

Without simply transcribing several chapters of this novel complete, it would be impossible to reveal the complexities woven into it by Gardner. This is one you have to read yourself.


Della Street announces Mrs Summerfield Malden, Steffanie, wife of the doctor who died in an airplane crash. She does not seem to be in mourning. Stephanie explains that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has been investigating her husband, whom they think has secreted a hundred thousand dollars. He takes large cash payments, and this is managed by Gladys Foss, his nurse and bookkeeper. Her husband was flying to Salt Lake City, where Gladys was to meet him. She knows her "husband carried a leather key container" in which there were two keys she could not account for. He had a private place in the Dixiewood Apartments, possibly a love nest, under the name of Charles Amboy. She gives Mason photostats of a small notebook her husband kept; when she is walking out, Mason discovers that it is some sort of code. She is being shadowed, so expects Mason to go to the love nest.


Gertie and two stenographers have gone home. Mason and Street go to the Dixiewood Apartments, find a sumptuously furnished four-room apartment, with an open, empty safe. The are quick to leave but Mason thinks a well-dressed woman entering the building recognizes him, or thinks she does. On the way to his office, Mason stops to phone Paul Drake, and order him to put operatives on to Gladys Foss in Salt Lake City and on to Steffanie Malden to see if she is being tailed. Then he calls Steffanie and tells her to meet him in forty-five minutes at his office. Then he and Della get a quick dinner from a waiter who knows them. Mason reports to Steffanie that he has gone to the love nest, but found no money. She thinks he is saying this because he must but, of course, he found the hundred thousand dollars. After she leaves he conjectures with Della on the problems now existing, including Gladys having taken the money, or the books balancing . . . In the photostats, Mason discovers what appears to be the combination of the safe. Steffanie could make him look like a thief.


Drake reports that no one is shadowing Steffanie Malden. He had an operative trail an operative, so he is sure. She went to the Dixiewood Apartments. He has Drake arrange to have men cover 928-B, the Malden apartment, at the Dixiewood building.


Now Drake reports that there are tails on Steffanie. She left the Dixiewood, went home, then to Erin Apartments, and was followed there. She went to a room where, according to the manager, a (Ramon) Castella, Dr Malden's chauffeur, lives. Mason drives Della home, returns to his apartment. The phone is ringing; Drake reports that Gladys Foss is now at the Dixiewood. At the Dixiewood Mason is met by one of Drake's operatives who says Foss came down with two heavy suitcases and left but a few minutes earlier. Mason goes to 928-B and finds the safe shut and covered by a picture, and all the feminine garments removed. Mason follows the trail to the Foss bungalow. She is more than gorgeous. She admits to playing the horses through bookie Ray Spangler, possibly using cash from the cash drawer from which Dr Malden also took cash, and put in cash payments when he felt like it. She suggests she might also have won on the horses, which will confuse the income tax people in trying to determine how much cash there should be. She denies knowledge of any safe in 928-B. She explains that Ramon was not only chauffeur but cared for Malden's airplane and motorboat.


Mason leaves the Foss bungalow, seeks a phone. He tells Drake that he wants men watching Gladys Foss. Drake reports that Mrs Malden has been arrested, by Narcotics men. At the Erin Apartments Mason finds a little knot of curious spectators. A bystander says it has to do with dope, tho he always found Castella "nice enough fellow."


Mason enters the Hall of Justice, is accosted by photographers and reporters, one of whom slips him a card. He is a Drake operative and he gets Mason aside and tells him where Mrs Malden is being held. The information officer tries to stop Mason as he heads to the room where Steffanie is being held. Mason shouts instructions to her, then Hamilton Burger comes into the hall, demands Mason leave. In front of the reporters, Mason reminds everyone that this is a public building. Steffanie bursts into the hall, but is pulled back by an officer holding her. Burger refuses to let Mason speak to Steffanie.


Mason drives back to the Foss bungalow and learns from Drake's operative that she must be asleep. Mason investigates, finds she's packed her clothes and left. Mason phones Drake, who says trying to find her would be foolishness. Mason orders Drake to tip the police to Ray Spangler's deals with Gladys Foss.


Ray Spangler is opening his cigar shop, which he declares is now his only business. The police gave him a going over on a false tip. Mason busy a couple of cartons of cigarettes.


In jail, Steffanie pleads with Mason to believe her, but lies about going to the Dixiewood Apartments. Mason proves the lie to her. She hates Castella, and doesn't know who drove her husband to the airport, but thinks it was Darwin Kirby , a wartime friend. The Malden maid and cook saw him the night before the flight. Mason reasserts that he does no have the hundred thousand dollars. On the way out, he meets Edna Colebrook, wife of Harry who is in the Identification Bureau in the Sheriff's Office, the woman who seemed to recognize him at the Dixiewood Apartments.


Mason tells Street and Drake he is rushing the hearing to get Castella on the stand. They discuss the contortions of the case.


Judge Telford calls the court to order. Mason faces two trial lawyers, Carl Hurley and his assistant (Madison Irwin). An airport employed states how Dr Malden had filed a flight plan, and how he had gone to the site of the crash where a charred body had been found. Dudley Lomax is qualified as an expert in the science of "criminalistics." He explains how spectrographic analysis can determine contents of an item, and how substance 68249 had been put in some of Dr Malden's narcotics so they could be traced. This was found in a bottle thrown from the crashed plane. The bottle had fingerprints of Dr Malden, Castella, some unidentified prints and Mrs Malden (this last comes out only on cross examination). They were layers so that who was last could not be determined, but some of Castellas were over Steffanie's. Mason shows the court that Lomax is biased for the prosecution., that he is a member of an organization which cannot be identified, but which has other members who use the same marker in their investigation. After conferring with Irwin, Hurley calls Castella, who is caught reciting an analogy given him by the prosecuting attorney. He claims Steffanie asked him to marry her if something were to happen to her husband. Mason now objects to testimony, since there is no corpus delicti. Mason points out that, since Malden's car was not in the lot, he must have driven it away, and Kirby flew the plane and was killed. Hurley cannot disprove this, so Telford dismisses the case. Mason takes Steffanie into Telford's office and, appropriately, is chased out, but Mason now uses the hall, not the court, door, and spirits his client to a woman's room where Della puts on Steffanie's clothes. Mason sends his client to 928-B, and Della, in his car, up the valley, having surmised that somewhere around Stockton or Sacramento must be the place Dr Malden, still alive, and his love Gladys Foss, must be hiding, since her car came into town with windshield covered with mosquitoes, and that would not be the case if she'd come in from dry Las Vegas.


Mason finds Mrs Millicent Kirby in the Brownstone Hotel, Denver. She explains she is being "crucified on a cross of legal blackmail" by Horace L Redfield. She and her husband operate a string of restaurants, but only on land leased from Paul Winnett who is in Illinois. All expenses and gross income go to Illinois. The net is served out two-fourths to Winnett, one-fourth to her husband who is "sitting out in some tropical island, in the shade of a palm frond, with some little cutie catering to his every whim." She is embittered. Any suit involving the company gives it all back to Winnett. She has finally caved in and agreed to a divorce, which legal document has to be served personally in Colorado. Her husband is due that evening. Mason asks to go with her lawyer. She has the switchboard operator get her attorney, Ed Duarte, on the line; he says "no" in emphatic terms.


But Mason is not to be denied. When two cars leave the building in which Edward Duarte had his law offices, the attorney is waiting in a taxi in an alleyway. The driver manages to keep a cab with a governor in sight of the speeding cars. When they park a block behind the two cars, the driver notes they have been followed. Mason goes to the bungalow, finds the door open, hides in a closet. When one person leaves and a car drives away, he confronts Kirby. His story is that he was hounded by his in-laws with all his faults until he got away by joining the armed forces. Then, having seen life in the South Pacific, he decided to live there. Hamilton Burger bursts in with a man and two Colorado officers. Burger is triumphant; Kirby is alive. Burger tells Mason he's arrested Steffanie in an apartment she maintained under the name of Amboy, and a Mrs Colebrook recognized Mason coming out of the apartment with Steffanie.


At sunrise Mason arrives in Los Angeles. Drake meets him with the joyous news that Colebrook has made a positive identification, and Steffanie has screamed her lungs out that Mason has a hundred thousand dollars of her money. Mason tells Drake to use his photographer operative to get into the crowd of police that will surround Kirby when Burger's plan arrives, and serve a summons on him for the defense.


Della reports from Sacramento. She's found Gladys Foss. By afternoon Paul Drake can report that she lives in Sacramento. Her husband, Charles Amboy, was a mining man who was away for long periods of time. Gladys grubstaked him. She kept long hours and ate at a restaurant, and got home late, but was definitely living there for the past six months. Mason flies to Sacramento and takes Della to dinner. Then they meet the seven-thirty evening plane. The hostess recognizes his description of Gladys, a regular passenger, commuting from Los Angeles, until recently, when her husband died in a plane crash. Mason now notes to Della that, besides Steffanie, Dr Malden had even easier access to his narcotics cabinet. If Malden were "going to pretend to be dead, take what money he could and run away with Gladys Foss, he would naturally need a corpse."


Burger's plane arrives at the airport, the regular passengers get off, and Burger makes his triumphal return with Kirby. Drake's photographer steps forward, asks Kirby to put his hand out, slaps a subpoena into it. Burger is outraged, orders the arrest of the photographer, and Mason steps forward threatening a fifty-thousand dollar false arrest suit. Burger rushes Mason, tries to hit him but Mason steps aside as flash bulbs go off.


Of course, it is the photo of Burger swinging at Mason that makes the front page. Drake reports that Kirby is in a swank apartment. He's had only one visitor, Mrs Charlotte Boomer, his aunt. He's spilled the beans, telling how he drank a bit of the narcotic-spiked whisky and fell asleep, while Dr Malden took a big slug. Mason still asks, "who drugged it and when?" He tells Drake to serve Boomer with a subpoena.


The clerk calls court to order. Evidence from the first trial is stipulated into evidence in this one. Sergeant Holcomb testifies to finding Dr Malden's dentist, Dr Reedley Munger. The dentist surprises Burger by saying he can't be certain that the teeth of the dead man belong to Dr Malden. Mason tries to get Burger to call Kirby as his witness and Burger is forced to admit the witness has disappeared. Mason has moved for continuance until Kirby is present, so the judge puts the onus on the defense. Mason states his view of the case, which includes Kirby and Malden driving to Salt Lake City and asking Castella to fly his plane there. Burger is aghast, states that he has spoken to Kirby and Mason is only grandstanding. Mason admits he hasn't interviewed Kirby, that he was prevented to do so. Mason explains that he believes the story Kirby has given is fabricated and that, under oath, he won't support it. His flight is evidence of that. Mason suggests that it is just as likely that Burger has aided and abetted Kirby's flight as for the defense to have done so. Of course, Burger will not stipulate that what Mason attests is true, so Kirby has to be produced. To show good faith, Mason calls Charlotte Boomer. Burger says she cannot come. Dr Charles Ennis will testify so. What did Mason intend to prove with Mrs Boomer. "Nothing." The judge says he's going to "impose a sentence for contempt" and stops Mason from interrupting him. Mason asks for the opportunity to "state a legal reason why sentence should not be pronounced" and Judge Telford has to let him do so. Mason then states that the fact that Mrs Boomer, Kirby's aunt, could offer nothing is a defense, because Mrs Boomer visited her nephew, therefore could come to court. Mason says Mrs Boomer did not, in fact, visit Kirby! Mason is allowed to cross-examine Dr Ennis, who states he doesn't believe that Mrs Boomer left the sanitarium. Sgt Holcomb is recalled and states firmly that Mrs Boomer did visit Kirby but, when he describes the woman, Dr Ennis jumps up and says that is not his patient! Mason says it was Dr Summerfield Malden.


Mason explains to Street and Drake. It was as he said. Dr Malden had simply planned to disappear, knowing he did not have long to live, and spend those few years with his friend Kirby and his love Gladys in the Hawaiian Islands, free of his snooping wife. Luck befell him when he was identified as the one who want down in the plane crash. Castella was the murderer, offering the plane to a mob boss who was on his back, getting him to take a slug of the drugged whisky.

I have to be frank; I don't like this solution. The introduction of a mob boss at the last minute is synthetic. Why not have had Gladys be as disliking of her husband in Sacramento as Malden was of his wife, both pulling a disappearing act. Then, Gladys gets her husband to fly the plane (this could have been prepared early in the novel or not, for she was commuting, and he could have been a pilot) and get killed. That could have as easily been worked in to the plot as what Gardner presented us.


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Forty-fourth Perry Mason Novel, © 1954;

The Case of the Runaway Corpse

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Della Street

Crampton deputy district attorney

Male visitor

Perry Mason

Crampton deputy sheriff

Mrs Welchburg

Mrs Myrna Davenport

Witness at motel

Fresno undersheriff

Mrs Sara Ansel

Drake's Fresno operative

2 broad-shouldered deputy sheriffs

William C Delano, deceased

Jason L Beckemeyer

Fresno D A Talbert Vandling

John Delano, deceased


Welchburg maid

Sara's sister, deceased

Newspaper reporters, photographers

Telegraph employee

Hortense Paxton, deceased

Reporter Pete Ingram

Judge Siler

Mason's switchboard operator

Butte County Sheriff

Fresno Sheriff

Mabel Norge

Butte County deputy D A (Oscar Glencoe)

Dr Milton Hoxie

Officer Sidney Boom

A pilot

Harold Titus

(Butte County) District Attorney [Jonathan Halder]

Some kids, later George Medford and Jimmy Eaton

Another pilot

Man on phone in Bakersfield

Their parents, including Martin Medford

Drake's San Bernardino man

Motel landlady

Male accomplice ?

Los Angeles D A [Hamilton Burger]

Dr (Herkimer Corrison) Renault

Annoyed couple

Miss Norge's attorney

Crampton Coroner

Sometimes there is very little to note about a specific Perry Mason novel. This one has one of the best "dodging of the question" sessions ever, Chapter Six. Mason is, of course, in trouble, but when the officer begins questioning him, Mason succeeds in interpreting everything in the smallest possible detail, all the while smiling affably and asserting he really wants to help his inquisitor.

Here we are introduced to Dr (Milton) Hoxie. In the television series, a Dr Hoxie is the most regular of the autopsy surgeons. The name "Hoxie" wasused first is in The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife, where the name is part of a law partnership. The next time "Hoxie" is used he is given a first name, "Frank," in The Case of the Moth-eaten Mink.

The Detective Book Club editions squeeze the type into fewer pages than the Morrow originals. Sometimes when one appears in a DBC Triple Decker, it is exactly as in the single volume, and sometimes the type is reset -- who knows why it is one way in one instance and another at another time? Here, the resetting for the DBC issue has resulted in an easily-missed proof-reading error. On page 40 "rolled" gets an extra "l," becoming "rollled."

There is a Foreword to this novel which the DBC edition does not reprint. In it Erle Stanley Gardner speaks of Dr Frederick D Newbarr whom he calls a medical detective. Dr Newbarr was also a clinical professor and Chief Autopsy Surgeon of the Coroner's Department of Los Angeles County (sort of a "Quincy," in television terms - the show ran from 1976 into 1983). The pocket book edition of this mystery keeps Gardner's dedication.


Della Street tells Perry Mason that there are two women who want to see him at once, before they have to leave. Mrs Davenport is mousy, Mrs Ansel is very catty. Their problem is domestic, so Mason tells his secretary to send them away. She returns with the news that it is a murder case. So Mason sees them. Sara Ansel tells Mason that she's "sort of an aunt by marriage." Her sister's husband was Myrna's uncle. To explain; William C Delano died six month's ago. John Delano, Sara's brother, was her sister's husband. Myrna is niece to John and William. Myrna's husband, Ed Davenport, has written a letter accusing his wife of killing him. It accuses her also of poisoning Hortense Paxton, the niece would have inherited most of William's's money. Sara wants Mason to protect Myrna by getting the letter before Ed dies, so the letter can't be mailed to the authorities. Sara gives Myrna's key to her house to Mason. Finally Myrna speaks up, asserting that her husband no longer loves her and is stealing her money.


Mason's switchboard operator (no longer Gertie?) rings Della to advise of a long-distance call from Crampton. Mrs Ansel tells him that Ed Davenport died a quarter hour earlier. He tells Della to "Get two reservations."


Mason and Street take a DC-3 up to Chico. A taxicab takes them into town where they get a rented car and drive to Ed Davenport's office-house. They find a lock box and in it an envelope addressed to "the authorities" which Mason steams open only to find six sheets of blank paper. Using mucilage, he reseals the envelope with the blank papers inside. Mabel Norge interrupts them, calls the police. Officer Sidney Boom of the sheriff's office joins them and Mason points out that he is the attorney for the wife of dead Ed. Mabel tells the officer of an incriminating letter and gets it out of the lockbox. She wants to open it with the officer, but Mason points out her employment terminated on Davenport's death. Mason suggests that the officer call the district attorney, which he does. Boom leaves with Mabel tailing along. The phone rings; it is a station-to-station call from a man in Bakersfield, with the message "Pacific Palisades Motor Court, San Bernardino, unit thirteen." Then Myrna calls. Ed is gone. Mason tells her to take Sara and go to the San Francisco airport and wait.


At the San Francisco airport they find Myrna and Sara, asleep, and watched by a man reading a newspaper. Della gets four tickets for Los Angeles. On the plane, Sara tells Mason that Ed stopped in Crampton, very sick. The motel landlady gave him the name of doctors, and Dr Renault came, diagnosed serious illness. They were called and joined Ed and the doctor. Ed finally rested, the doctor left, only to be recalled when Ed started to choke. Renault sent Sara to get medicine and Myrna, who was in the shower, arrived too late. Ed was dead. The doctor sealed up the place, believing there had been foul play from something Ed told him. When the coroner, deputy district attorney and sheriff's deputy came, Ed was gone. A witness saw Ed climb out of a back window and drive off. She is certain Ed had been rolled earlier that evening. She thinks that Ed must have wakened after the doctor gave him a last-ditch-effort shot of adrenaline. She notes that the doctor asked about candy; Ed eats candy to get over his alcoholic binges. Mason instructs her to take a taxi home, so he can see if they are being tailed. Mason tells Della what he has learned.


Back in Los Angeles, Mason watches the two women go off in a taxicab, followed by an unmarked police car. Della is also followed. Mason resists looking to see if he is followed. Drake reports that a Frank L Stanton registered in unit thirteen, paying ahead by telegraph. Drake's Fresno operative has reported that the room was being watched by Jason L Beckemeyer of Bakersfield. Mason grabs a nap and is awakened by Drake on the phone. Myrna has been arrested, for the murder of Hortense Paxton, by arsenic poisoning. The Butte County sheriff has opened the envelope, found blank sheets, and is looking for Mason. Della is already at the office. When Mason arrives, Sara is awaiting him to accuse Myrna of being a Lucrezia Borgia. She explains how she saw Myrna burying small packages in the garden. Myrna lied until she forced the issue. She was burying plant poisons, so if difficult questions were raised she'd not have them around to be found. Myrna packs Ed's bags when he travels, and includes candy. She's not going to the police, but if they come to her . . . When she leaves, Mason ruefully notes to Della that, when a third person is present, a communication is not confidential, and Myrna, not Sara, is his client. Mason phones Butte County District Attorney Jonathan Halder, banters with him, agrees to fly up to his office, setting an exact time of arrival so photographers can be there when he arrives.


At the Oroville airport, they are greeted by newspaper reporters and photographers. One reporter (Pete Ingram) surreptitiously gives Mason a note. Butte County District Attorney Jonathan Halder greets Mason with the county sheriff and a deputy DA (Oscar Glencoe). Mason, faking a need to look in his billfold, reads Ingram's note, which indicates that Mabel Norge has disappeared with all the money in Davenport's account. They go to the sheriff's office where an informal interview becomes a formal one when Mason notices the sheriff reading from notes. Mason quibbles about the identification of the house they were in as belonging to Ed Davenport when it belonged instead to Myrna Davenport. If it was community property, she gained title when Ed died. Otherwise she might have gained title through inheritance and a will. Mason has to protect his client, and some district attorney in the southern part of the state might interpret his informal admission as a formal statement. The D A and sheriff get nowhere against Mason's shadowboxing. [Here's another chapter that cannot be summarized; you have to read it to get its effect.] Eventually they bring Sidney Boom into the room and he starts to explain what he knows of Mason's entry to the house. When Mason tries to correct errors, the sheriff shuts him up. Then when Boom is done, Mason asks questions of Boom to prove his errors, and again the sheriff objects. Mason argues that Boom cannot even know who signed the note on the envelope. They suggest they'll charge Mason with accessory after the fact of Ed Davenport's murder. Mason suggests that the missing Mable Norge ran off with the missing Ed Davenport. Then, didn't they know she was at the Davenport place a half hour before he was, couldn't have been driving by casually since it was a dead end, substituted an envelope for the real one, and took Davenport's money out of his bank account. Halder is flabbergasted, since no one was to know of the withdrawal. Mason and Street exit, and are met by Ingram. They reward him with an interview on the way to the airport in his car. Their pilot is given instructions to overfly Sacramento and go to Fresno.


Mason sends the pilot and Della on to Los Angeles, but stops in Fresno. A collect call to Drake brings the information that Myrna must be in Fresno. Ed's body was found in a shallow grave prepared a few days before the murder, near the motel. Some kids had used it as a fort, then reported it to their parents when it got filled. The police think there was a male accomplice. Apparently Stanton was Davenport, and stayed in a motel where a couple, annoyed by his talking with a male visitor, got Mrs Welchburg of the motel to call them. Meanwhile, Sara Ansel has gone to the police and blabbed everything, then, when they worked her over, she decided she'd condemned Myrna without a hearing, so is now contrite. Mason goes to the hotel, gets Mrs Welchburg to confide. The man had two heavy suitcases, and one a new bag wrapped in newspaper. If he made any long-distance calls, they were from a pay phone. Mason phones the Fresno sheriff, speaks to the undersheriff, says he wants to speak to his client, no, he did not go to Mr Davenport's house in Paradise, he went to Mrs Davenport's house, and Davenport stayed at the motel from which he is phoning. Two "broad-shouldered deputy sheriffs" find Mason in the motel lobby.


Fresno Talbert Vandling greets Mason. He admits that the witness to Davenport's climbing out the window has disappeared, and his police bungled in not getting a legitimate address. Davenport died from instant-acting potassium cyanide. The candy was spiked with arsenic, but some also had potassium cyanide. That's all he "can say at the present time." He doesn't want to try a case where he is not certain of his evidence. He offers to accept a plea which will prevent the death penalty. Mason notes that if his client is convicted here, or in Los Angeles, first, the other county will easily get the death penalty in the following trial.


Myrna tells Perry she's told everything to the nice district attorney. Mason orders her to let him do all the talking, points out she'll get the death penalty one place or the other if convicted in either. Also, Sara has told the police of her burying poison, which brings "a distinct flicker of panic" in Myrna's eyes. Ed was sure Hortense would get Uncle William's money, and Ed did not like Aunt Sara. She packed one bag for Ed on the latest trip -- they were now living in Los Angeles and Paradise was but his office. His pajamas had red fleur-de-lis figures on them. She says the candy box was still in its cellophane wrapper, so there can be no fingerprint on the candy wrappers.


Back in his Los Angeles office,Mason gets a note from Jason L Beckemeyer who offers his services with a bill for $255 and a note about his watching cabin thirteen. He interviewed the maid, and was certain no one stayed in the cabin, but the telegraph employee proved a remittance sent by Frank L Stanton was duly delivered. Mason now asks Drake to check on Sara Ansel.


Talbert Vandling calls young George Medford, who tells of playing in a grave as if it were a fort, then telling his dad when they found it filled. Judge Siler allows a stipulation that, where no cross is done now, it may be done later if pertinent. Martin Medford testifies to digging in the grave until he discovered a leg, then he got the police. The Fresno sheriff describes the shape and size of the grave. Dr Milton Hoxie, physician, surgeon and toxicologist, testifies to finding no arsenic in the dead man who, he was certain, died almost immediately from cyanide of potassium poisoning. He died about an hour after eating a meal of bacon and eggs. There was no appreciable amount of chocolate, and a mild amount of alcohol in the "Delighted and Devilish" range. Mason refers the doctor to Homicide Investigation by Dr LeMoyne Snyder to try to more closely set the time of death. Fingerprint expert Harold Titus matched prints of the dead man with the license of Davenport. He admits that, initially, Mrs Davenport and Mrs Ansel were not under surveillance, but later they were followed. When he asked Mrs Davenport about the chocolates, she stated that she placed an unopened box in her husband's suitcase. He found two chocolates with Mrs Davenport's fingerprints on them, and they had poison in them. Sara Ansel is called, and she is belligerent when questioned about her in-laws and the changing of William Delano's will so that she inherited a hundred thousand dollars and a fifth interest in his big house. When she moved in, Ed started moving out, using the Paradise house as a mining office. Sara knew he was stealing from Myrna and using the money to expand his mining interests. Sara is forced to admit that Myrna is a good gardener and buried arsenic and cyanide of potassium in the garden. On the day of the murder she got a call from Dr Herkimer Corrison Renault concerning Ed Davenport's failing health, and she and Myrna went to Mason, gave him instructions before going on to Crampton. Mason objects to testimony from Sara concerning what occurred in his office, as confidential, and Judge Siler says he'll have to take it under consideration during the recess. Dr Renault is called to the stand and he says that Davenport told him he'd eaten a chocolate and believed his wife was poisoning him. He treated him for food poisoning, then had to return in the afternoon. When he gave him a heart stimulant, he became weaker and suddenly died. He locked the room and went for the authorities. When he returned, the corpse was gone. He was gone for an hour, but was certain the man was dead. He thinks the man died from extreme shock caused by the purging of the arsenic in the morning. He is certain he didn't die from cyanide of potassium. He doesn't know how the man could have eaten eggs and bacon. Mason now forces Renault to admit that Davenport might have died from ordinary food poisoning. Vandling admits he doesn't want to dismiss the case, but the confusion is troublesome. He recalls Dr Hoxie, who admits the stomach could have been pumped of its contents, and something could have been pumped in, but asserts death was by cyanide poisoning and it was not taken in candy, but possibly in whisky, and the defendant did not have the means to administer it. Now a continuance to the next day is granted, and Mason discusses the situation with Vandling. The D A reveals that Dr Renault, who has been in Crampton only three years, is not thought of very highly. Vandling now thinks that Los Angeles should try the defendant before he continues. Myrna insists to Mason that her fingerprints could not be on the candy. Sara says there were two partially-eaten boxes which must have been combined and in Ed's suitcase when he got to Crampton.


Mason, Street and Drake are in a suite in the California Hotel in Fresno. The attorney states that "there's only one person in the world who could have murdered Edward Davenport" and merely smiles when Myrna is suggested. How could she have known that Ed would get sick in Crampton? Mason says they need to look for a six-wheeled vehicle, an auto and trailer, and Mabel Norge. Mason and Street go to the grave site, fan out, and Della finds jeep tracks which they trace to the place a trailer had been situated for some time. Mason gives Della another clue; "Who was the one person who could possibly have known that Edward Davenport was going to leave Fresno at around seven o'clock in the morning, that he was going to be taken violently ill as soon as he started driving, and that by the time he reached Crampton he would be so completely ill that he wouldn't be able to go on, that he'd have to go to bed and call a doctor?"


The pilot tells Mason he can't fly them back at night as he takes them into San Bernardino. Drake has found Mabel Norge, registered as Mabel Davenport. Mason tells Della that the phone call they got in Paradise was for Mabel, but the person who phoned didn't know her. It was the location of where Mabel was to go. At the hotel, Drake's man tells them Mabel is in the restaurant. Mason threatens Norge with newspaper publicity if she doesn't help him. Mason suggests the Fresno DA will think she was Ed Davenport's mistress and they were running away together. Mabel insists she's working on instructions of Davenport. Mason phones Vandling and tells him where to find Mabel.


Vandling is hesitant, after talking with the Los Angeles D A (not named, but certainly Hamilton Burger), to work with Mason, but listens to him, agrees to cooperate. He calls Mabel Norge. She testifies to her activities in regards to a letter with incriminating statements. Judge Siler objects, but Mason doesn't, to this hearsay evidence. Then Vandling asks if she were acting on Davenport's instructions, and her attorney objects. Vandling gets specific about her activities in withdrawing funds from the bank. Mason then gets her to admit she took the money to San Bernardino where she'd been instructed to give the money to someone no questions asked. The attorney objects. Mason recalls Dr Renault, asks if he treated him, then if he saw him the day before! The doctor says that has no bearing on his treatment. Mason says Renault saw Davenport in the Welchburg Motel under the name of Stanton and discussed how they could make it look as if he had died. Renault refuses to answer so Vandling offers that this would indicate a conspiracy. Renault says it would incriminate him. Mason explains. Renault and Davenport had rehearsed their plan whereby the doctor would report the death but give Davenport time to escape and drive to a house trailer. Davenport had murdered Hortense Paxton (to get the Delano money), was sick of the interference of Sara Ansel, had stashed away several thousand dollars he'd embezzled from his wife and needed to disappear before he was caught. Further, didn't he, realizing Davenport had suitcases loaded with cash, then give him potassium of cyanide in whisky. Renault now identifies the other party to the conspiracy, who was to drive the house trailer over to Nevada (with Davenport hiding in it), Jason L Beckemeyer. Vandling dismisses the case against Myrna Davenport.


Vandling celebrates with Street, Drake and Mason. In addition to what is known, Vandling adds that Renault used a hypodermic needle to inject the poison into the candy and sealed the holes with a hot needle. Then he gave Davenport a physic and emetic to simulate the poisoning. Credulous Mabel brought the last deposits to Davenport's account to San Bernardino to complete a mining deal. Bickerers was the one to whom she was to give the money; he'd been the dummy used for siphoning money out of accounts. Bickerers introduced Davenport to Dr Renault, completing the conspiratorial triangle. At the trailer, Bickerers fed Davenport a breakfast, as suggested by Dr Renault who'd been paid $5000, then the spiked whisky. He buried Davenport and made off with the entire loot. Mason now states that only Davenport knew he was going to be sick in Crampton and, that being so, Dr Renault had to be in on it. Davenport put his own neck in the noose. "Contributory negligence" notes Vandling. "Exactly . . . here's to crime" offers Mason.

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Forty-fifth Perry Mason Novel, © 1954;

The Case of the Restless Redhead

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Perry Mason


Ruby Inwood

Judge Dillard

Mervyn Aldrich

Sergeant Holcomb

Appointed defense attorney, Frank Neely

Paul Drake

Apartment car attendant, Joe

Witness Harry Bole

3D Motel maid

Newspaper reporters and photographers

Corona Jury

Unidentified intruder

Judge Kippen

Evelyn Bagby, defendant

3D Motel manager

Geoffry Strawn, new trial deputy

Courtroom spectators

Mike, headwaiter

Alexander Redfield

Riverside District Attorney

Man at sheriff's office

Mary Eunice

A brunette (future Mrs Neely, Estelle Nugent)

Deputy sheriff (Bill) Ferron

D A Hamilton Burger

Frank's father

Ferron's apartment

Spectators, especially lawyers

Irene Keith

Oscar B Loomis

Court policewoman

Helene Chaney



Della Street

[Harry Marlow]

Court Clerk

Staunton Vester Gladden alias Steve Merrill

Drake's night operator

Harmon B Passing

Joe Padena

Jim, at headquarters

[Presiding judge]

Mrs Padena

Chaney's butler, William

Celeste, Keith's maid.

Is there a more famous case for the television series viewers? Certainly not, as this was the very first broadcast episode, and is about what every young, beautiful high school homecoming queen or cheer leader dreams; Hollywood.

The events related in the third chapter are here stated a bit out of order to simplify the narrative.

Two more DBC typos (proof-reading errors). In Chapter 5, "told" becomes "toold." In Chapter 7 "Evelyn" gets spelled "Evelzn."

We have mentioned before that the best Mason mysteries are based on a time-shift. This,of course, is a prime example. Mason proves the crime was actually committed before the police have determined it was, thus depriving certain witnesses of their airtight alibi.


Traffic was light, so Mason had arrived at the courthouse in Riverside a half hour early. A trial is in progress in the courtroom and the attorney seems to have no idea of what to ask the witness, Mr (Harry) Bole, next. The witness testifies to seeing the defendant, Evelyn Bagby, stoop over a suitcase, open it, take something out, replace the suitcase in the trunk of the car. He says she had on the same clothes she's wearing in court, plus a plaid coat with fur collar, such as the full-skirted coat introduced in evidence. Since she had her back to him, how did he notice her. He particularly noticed the defendant's very good-looking legs. Judge Dillard calls the noon recess and the courtroom spectators shuffle out followed by the district attorney. A brunette tells Frank, the defendant's counsel, that he was wonderful. Mason joins Judge Dillard in his chambers. The judge identifies the attorney as Frank Neely, whose father is a businessman in town. Neely is a young attorney, so has been appointed this case to gain experience. The judge feels something is wrong for the witness is too patronizing. The judge signs papers Mason has brought, declines lunch since he has an engagement. Passing through the courtroom, Neely asks to shake the hand of the famous lawyer. Mason asks him about the case and Neely blurts out "how do you cross-examine a man who has made a positive identification when you feel that the identification is the result of a mistake, or perhaps the man is deliberately lying?" Mason gives him an analogy in response, then asks about the case. Evelyn Bagby is a waitress on the way to Los Angeles to find work. Her old model car broke down and she had to wait at a motel for a part to arrive. Rich Irene Keith, whose jewelry was stolen, was on the way to Las Vegas to be a bridesmaid for the actress Helene Chaney. She'd gone into a cocktail bar and when she came out she found the trunk lid ajar, and $40,000 worth of jewelry gone. Harry Boles, the witness, heard of this on the radio, and reported what he saw. The police checked the motel, and found Bagby who fit the description of the witness, and found one piece of jewelry, a bracelet, in her luggage. It is a routine run-of-the-mill case, so he was appointed, and he believes in his client. Mason offers to take him to lunch, and his girlfriend, not talk shop, and help him after lunch is over.


Mason tells Neely to play the part of Boles. Mason explains that he has to hold the interest of the jury. He has "to keep throwing questions at the witness. Rapid-fire questions." "Don't keep going over the same things he's testified to in the same order." Mason then demonstrates with a string of questions. This leads to the fact the whomever the witness saw was wearing a topcoat which, the attorney suggests, would make it impossible for him to see her legs. Then the witness saw her at the car, when did he next see her? Neely says the impression was that it was in a line-up. Mason shows him that he probably got a glimpse of her before she was put in a line-up. As Mason leaves, he encourages Neely and reminds him he's sure Boles did not see any legs..


Mason is looking at the morning newspapers, shows Della Street an article about "a young man by the name of Neely who seems to have made a brilliant cross-examination." Mason grins like a Cheshire cat. Della asks about the guests he had for lunch and the attorney suggests it was personal, with Frank Neely and Estelle Nugent. A bit later Della returns to the "Good Samaritan" with news that a starry-eyed young redhead is in his outer office. Evelyn Bagby comes in to thank the man who helped her attorney. She's looking for work. Mason asks if she'd thought of compensation. No. He asks Della to get Frank Neely on the phone, then hears Evelyn's story of her efforts as a redhead without freckles to get to Hollywood, how one Staunton Vester Gladden developed her talent, took her money and disappeared. Now she thinks he might be Steve Merrill, second husband of Helene Chaney. Mason speaks to Neely, arranges to be his associate, then gets her a job with Joe Padena whose restaurant, Crowncrest Tavern, is on the crest of the mountains above Hollywood, facing two valleys, a place run by his wife to which Hollywood's finest come. Mason stakes her to some cash. Della reports there was a tear in Evelyn's eye as she departed the office. Gertie has Irene Keith on the line. An appointment is made. The newspapers report that the marriage between Helene Chaney and Mervyn Aldrich is being held up by Merrill.


Mason is two-thirds the way through the urgent mail when Irene Keith arrives. She is a stunner, and seems open and friendly. Della turns on a tape recorder. Irene explains how her souped-up car got her and Chaney to Corona early, so they went for a drink. Mervyn Aldrich, the groom, a stickler for time, arrived on time only to find them involved with the police over the stolen jewelry. Aldrich joins them, is curt, sure Bagby got off easily. Mason notes that because of the complaint signed by Keith, Evelyn was imprisoned, tried, and acquitted, leaving "the situation in rather an unsatisfactory state." Aldrich, a rich boat builder, says Mason can't hold Irene for a thin dime" in damages. He and she are shown the door by Mason. Della asks "if she wanted to settle, why do you suppose she asked Mervyn Aldrich to meet her here?" Mason notes that Aldrich is always punctual, so Irene must have set his arrival to follow her softening up of him, which failed. Della suggests that Irene is "very, very much interested in Mervyn." Mason has her go for Paul Drake.


All Paul Drake knows of Irene Keith comes from her publicity department. Mason tells him to get more, and check on Gladden as well.


Drake reports that the maid at the 3D motel saw an intruder coming out of Bagby's apartment at 11:30 the morning before the theft. The manager had assigned her another room, first needing to size her up for renting at that time of day. She checked out by one o'clock. Next, Della finds out from Joe Padena that Evelyn got a c call from S M who was "willing to settle." Mason sends Della to the Crowncrest Tavern to await Evelyn's return and make certain she won't settle. Mason then advises Neely that things may be heading for a good settlement. Irene Keith now enters, tries to get Mason to settle for a thousand dollars against all possible claims, and is stunned when he declines. While she's there, Mason hears from Della.; S M was definitely Steve Merrill and he is Staunton Gladden for Evelyn's gotten back numbers of movie magazines and looked at photos. Irene gives Mason until 10:30 pm to accept her offer.


Mason is impatiently awaiting Della's return. When she returns, Mason mentions the check from Keith. Before anything is decided, Evelyn Bagby is on the phone with a story of finding a gun in her apartment at the restaurant. It is a very new, aluminum model, which hasn't been fired. They agree to meet at the Joshua Tree Café. Headwaiter Mike serves the Bacardi double they like. Mason looks at the Colt Cobra, which has been fired twice. Mason sends Della with the gun number to phone Drake. Mason then tells Evelyn about the check, which she is desperate to accept. He says they'll wait until the last minute. Evelyn now explains how she was almost run off the road while coming to meet Mason, and how she fired two shots wildly, which got rid of a hooded man in the pursuing car. Mason calls the sheriff's office. While awaiting the sheriff's men, Evelyn says she think's she thrown a scare into Merrill/Gladden. Ferron, from the sheriff's office, joins them, questions Evelyn all the while saying he hopes she got the person who has been terrorizing the area. She explains fully her encounter with the hooded man, including hearing a "plinking" wound on the second shot. They agree to go to the site of the incident.


At the curve where Edith lost her pursuer the guard rail is broken. Ferron and his partner go down to the car, and are followed later by Mason. They've found a dead man, shot through the head, in a car registered to Oscar B Loomis. It starts raining and the three hardly get back to the road before it pours. The officers head to town, Mason, Street and Bagby to the Crowncrest Tavern. In Evelyn's room, they discover drapes. Evelyn notes that someone with binoculars could, from a hundred yards away, look into her room. Then Mason and Bagby discover that a pillow case is missing. Now Evelyn worries that the dead man might be someone she knows. Mason suggests she become hysterical and Della will take her to a sanitarium.


The janitor in Mason's building is given $5 by Mason to think he is Harry Marlow and on the way to the Drake Detective Agency. Drake's night operator greets Mason, then absents herself when Mason leaves so he can return unnoticed. Drake reports that Evelyn's gun is one of two bought by Mervyn Aldrich. Drake has his operator arrange for Mason to visit Chaney, and have Aldrich arrive while he is there. Drake hears from Jim at headquarters. Drake's operator reports that Chaney will receive delivery of the movie script this evening. Mason notes to Drake that a mask conceals only a face, while a pillow slip may disguise even a woman. Della arrives. Bagby is sedated in a friend's apartment.


Helene Chaney greets Mason and Street, surprised it is not someone else. Her butler, William, escorts them into the living room, then Helene joins them. Mason asks to see the gun Mervyn Aldrich bought for her. She goes to check on her gun, but actually makes a phone call. Shortly after she returns Aldrich arrives. He tries to dodge Mason's questions. Mason suggests that, since the gun isn't Chaney's, it must be Aldrich's. Aldrich looks at it, apologizes, says it must be the gun stolen from his glove compartment. "Without asking permission and before anyone could divine his intention or interfere, he whirled, whipped the door open, jerked it shut behind him, and stepped into the rain." Aldrich returns, gives the gun back to Mason, reports the theft and finding of the gun to the police. Mason and Street leave. .Mason inspects the gun, finds two exploded cartridges and four loaded, but the gun smells only of oil. Aldrich switched guns.


Mason is cheerful, Della worried. She phones Drake, reports the dead man was Steve Merrill alias Staunton Vester Gladden. It was deliberate murder, for no lights were on in the car and the light switch was off. Ruby Inwood, Evelyn's roommate, took a message for Evelyn, indicating a meeting with Merrill who had $7500 for her. Merrill also had one of the new Colt revolvers. Sergeant Holcomb is looking both for Mason and Bagby. Mason tells her to tell Paul to go home and get some sleep. Of course Paul has "fortified himself with a lot of coffee" expecting an all-nighter for Mason. Mason sends Della home.


Mason tells Joe, the car attendant at his apartment, to leave his car waiting. He goes to his apartment and gets two .38 caliber shells and returns to the car. He drives to the scene of the crime, firs a shot into a redwood post, then a second shot into a live oak. At Padena's, only newspaper cars and police cars have braved the rain. On photographer sees Mason, and his camera flash sends Holcomb "barging out of the place like an angry bull." Mason feigns surprise that they are talking about murder. Holcomb demands the gun, and Mason counters that he won't respond "to an order from [Holcomb] to produce a gun with which a murder was committed." Holcomb pushes Mason off balance, opens the glove compartment of Mason's car, and triumphantly takes out the gun. While the reporters and photographer crowd around Holcomb, Mason quietly drives away.


Evelyn has woken up from her drugged sleep and been fed breakfast by Della. A parrot makes various appropriate and inappropriate comments in the background. Mason joins them, tells Evelyn that the dead man is Steve Merrill alias Staunton Vester Gladden. Evelyn is sure that, having filed a warrant against Merrill/Gladden, others must have found out. Oscar Loomis lived in the same apartment as Merrill, and had a car like the one Merrill had rented. Boles also lived in the same apartment and, when Loomis discovered his car gone, suggested Merrill must have taken it by mistake. Boles, Loomis and Inwood were together from twenty to five until eight. Aldrich has no alibi. Mason advises Evelyn to tell everything to the police and the reporters, get the publicity. She coyly says "I am innocent" and widens her eyes slightly. "That's a good trick" Mason says, widening her eyes and want a person to believe her. She is angry, then laughs, saying it was something Gladden made her practice.


Mason advises Neely to act like a veteran as they enter the courtroom of Judge Kippen. Geoffry Strawn, "a relatively new trial deputy," calls Harry Boles as his first witness. Boles identifies the dead man. Mason gets Boles to admit only that he learned Merrill was Gladden on the day of the man's death. William Ferron recounts the story Bagby had told him. Sergeant Holcomb explains he found the car with headlights off and switch off. The defendant told him they were on. He tells how he got the gun out of Mason's glove compartment. Mason catches him on the question of the gun being "in the same condition" in court as when he got it, for he has since emptied it of the cartridges and cases that were in it, and put them back. Holcomb goes on that he found the gun to be registered to Mervyn Aldrich. Mason suggests Aldrich testify. Strawn refuses. Mason says he wants it definitely determined as the murder weapon. The fatal bullet "mushroomed rather badly" says Strawn, so cannot be definitely identified. Holcomb produces the pillow slip, which has no bullet hole or power burns, so was put on after the man was shot. Holcomb says one bullet killed the man, the other was found in a redwood post. Then he quit looking. Ballistics expert Alexander Redfield identifies the bullet hole in the redwood post and locates it on a photo. Mason nudges Neely, suggests he make an objection once in a while. Redfield says the fatal bullet was fired from a gun of the type under question, but he is not certain it was this gun. Strawn moves to have the gun entered as an exhibit and Neely objects. The gun was in the possession of Mason, not the defendant. Mason notes that the mask was put on after the man was dead. Judge Kippen asks "You contend there were two people on that road wearing pillow slip masks?" Why not?" Mason asks to go to the crime scene. Strawn objects, they have photos. The photos are entered as evidence. Mason notices "a very peculiar spot" on an oak tree. Since one bullet from the gun was in the redwood post, if this is the second, then the dead man was . . . (shot by someone else, is the implication not stated).


The crime scene. Holcomb suggests he "can't keep anyone from coming out here and firing bullets all over the place." Kippen suggests proper investigative technique would have precluded problems. Mason notes the bullet hole in the tree. Mary Eunice, who lives in the house nearby, joins them. She's discovered that a bullet broke the glass in an attic window the night of the crime. They find a bullet in an attic rafter, and the angle of approach indicates that it came from the road.


Bullets are identified. The fatal bullet is #1, redwood post #2, oak tree #3 and Eunice house bullet #4. #3 in the oak tree was also fired from the gun. Burger suggests there was a deliberate attempt to tamper with evidence. #4, however, is more important; it was fired from the same type gun, but not the gun being introduced in evidence. Mason asks Redfield about breechblock identification. He asks that all four bullets be subjected to the test. At least two guns now figure in this matter. Marvyn Aldrich is called, says he identified the gun Mason gave him as the one taken from his glove compartment. He can identify it as his by a knick in the handle that he put on it so he could tell it from the one he gave Helene Chaney. Mason whispers to Neely "In a preliminary never object to any questions calling for new evidence. Only object to the form of questions so you keep the prosecutors off balance. . ." Aldrich's testimony is not objected to when he says the defendant was, at the trial in Riverside, within six feet of his car after the trial. Neely cross examines. With Mason's prompting, he needles and confuses Aldrich about having to take the gun with him to the car when he knew his gun by the knick. This is effective. A couple of lawyers who were spectators congratulate Neely as court takes a short recess. Estelle Nugent is proud of him. When a court policewoman takes Bagby to the defendant's room, Mason tells Neely and Nugent that Aldrich switched guns, which is why he wanted a breechblock test.


Redfield gives only a preliminary report to Judge Kippen. Bullets #1 and #4 were fired from the same gun, and it is not the one first introduced. Bullets #2 and #3 came from that gun. The empty bullet cases in that gun were fired from another gun. Judge Kippen asks Mason for an explanation and, to do so, he calls Helene Chaney to the stand. Aldrich responds with "Helene Chaney will not take the witness stand." The judge warns him of contempt charges as Chaney leaves the room. The bailiff is ordered to bring her back. General pandemonium. The judge orders the doors closed and locked so returning spectators cannot return and interrupt the proceedings. Miss Chaney states she doesn't want to testify, she is afraid, she doesn't want publicity. She has heard Aldrich's testimony about his giving her a Colt revolver. She produces it from her purse. She does not have a permit. Mason again objects to introduction of the weapons. Judge Kippen places the weapons in evidence, tells Redfield to test the weapons and all no leaks of what he finds, admonishes Burger that the Court, not just the prosecutor, is interested in this. Mason asks if he may examine the witness before adjournment, and is told no. "'Then,' Mason said, 'I would suggest that the Court ask the witness why she deemed it necessary to carry a weapon, what the danger was that was threatening her.'" "Why?" Because she was afraid of Stephen Merrill, the dead man. Burger calls this typical Mason tactics. The judge shuts him up by asking the question. She says it is for personal protection, she'd been threatened by Stephen Merrill, who wanted money. Mason prompts the judge to ask how much money. Again, "Why?" Suppose it was seven thousand five hundred dollars. The question is asked. "He didn't ask. He demanded. He wanted seven thousand five hundred dollars." The judge adjourns the court, admonishing the Clerk to safeguard the exhibits. Neely is worried, but Mason points out that he did not tamper with evidence, since the gun he used didn't kill Stephen Merrill. "When you're skating on thin ice the only way you can keep from breaking through is to start going like hell." He says he's scrambling facts and presents the analogy of cooking eggs over a camp fire, and breaking the yolks, then scrambling the eggs and pretending scrambled eggs is what you wanted in the first place. "That's a damn good way to try a lawsuit when you're up against a frame-up."


Judge Kippen announces "This Court deplores the sensationalism which has surrounded this case." He then recalls Redfield, who restates what is already known about the bullets. The empty cartridges in the first gun were fired from the other gun. They were moved after the gun was fired. The judge calls Chaney back to the stand. Harmon B Passing, her attorney, says shes not there, she wasn't subpoenaed. The judge argues the point, loses. Burger tries to blame Mason for the gun substitution, but Judge Kippen points out the only person who could have done this had to be "someone who had access to both weapons." Burger suggests he's going to find who did this and have him disbarred. The judge catches him on the implication. Burger backs off. Mason now calls Irene Keith and asks her if she had in her possession a weapon looking like those in evidence. She can't say. Didn't Helene Chaney give her such a weapon. Yes. What did she do with it. She can't say, it might incriminate her. She has consulted an attorney. The judge asks questions about her involvement in the murder of Stephen Merrill and she answers in the negative. The judge then says she must answer the questions. She repeats her position. Mason helps out, asking her if the incrimination might pertain to some action other than the murder. Did she have a discussion with Stephen Merrill about some jewelry. Didn't she give Merrill a large sum of money and a gun? Burger interjects a long objection, which the judge cursorily overrules. Burger, having suggested that Keith will use the same answer to any question asks if she didn't conspire with Merrill to assassinate the President of the United States. The question is impertinent, but Burger says he is trying to establish a point. Mason asks if Burger is clairvoyant, and Miss Keith answers Burger's question; "No." Mason smiles. Burger demands to know if Keith consulted Mason as her attorney. "No." Judge Kippen orders a recess and calls counsel to his office.


Burger is angry as he leaves the judge's chambers. Judge Kippen tells Mason and Neely that the presiding judge had discussed this case in advance in hopes that sensationalism could be avoided. He is baffled by the turn of events. He notes that Keith is a prominent, wealthy woman. So is Chaney, who has left the state, as has Aldrich. The prosecutor, he notes, is also baffled. Mason says the gun Evelyn gave him was switched on him. "'Are you trying to tell me that you took the substituted gun and fired a bullet into a redwood post and into an oak tree?' Judge Kippen, asked, his face grave." "Mason grinned. 'That's what I'm trying to keep from telling you.'" Then, "Whoever murdered Steve Merrill was someone sufficiently close to him to be with him in the automobile, to know about the gun, to know about the seventy-five hundred dollars, to know about Evelyn Bagby's claim against Merrill." The person killed Merrill, parked the car nearby, cleaned and reloaded the murder weapon and planted it in Bagby's room, stole a pillow slip, watched with binoculars to be sure she found the gun, followed her with the pillow slip over his head and frightened her into firing two wild shots. He then went back to the hidden car, put the pillow slip over Merrill's head and drove the car off the road. The judge gives Mason permission to prove this if he refrains from sensational tactics.


Mason calls Oscar Loomis. He is acquainted with Boles and Merrill. On the day of the murder he saw Boles, with his girl Ruby Inwood, about five, and they were together until eight. Ruby Inwood admits to seeing a large sum of money in Merrill's possession. She took a message for Merrill from Bagby and Merrill showed her the money and gun about three o'clock. After dinner she loaned her car to Boles. A Ford. She now has a new Ford. Mason asks for a subpoena duces tecum to produce the automobile, which he is certain will have a bullet hole in it. Mason explains that the defendant heard a clink when she fired the second shot, and that was the bullet hitting the car. He offers that what Loomis has said is false, the he took the car to ambush Bagby. Inwood bursts in. It was not Loomis, but Boles, who asked for an alibi. He borrowed her car that evening, came back, said he'd get her a new car because "he didn't want to be stuck for damages in the traffic accident he'd had." Inwood and Loomis are taken into custody and Burger is ordered to find Boles.


Mason, Street, Drake, Neely and Bagby have gathered in Mason's office for the explanation to complex mess. A phone call from Irene Keith gives many of the answers needed. Celeste, Keith's maid,had been bribed by Merrill to keep him abreast of things while he was trying to get a settlement out of Chaney without going to court. Then his problems were compounded when Bagby called him from Corona. He hatched a plot by which he could steal forty thousand dollars worth of jewelry and have Bagby convicted of a felony so she couldn't testify against him and simultaneously delay the Chaney-Aldrich marriage so he could now file a suit against her. It was Celeste, wearing Keith's clothes and dark glasses, who planted the bracelet in Bagby's motel room. It was Boles who took the suitcase out of Keith's car. When Bagby was acquitted, Merrill bargained to return the jewelry to Keith for seventy-five hundred dollars. Her attorney told her not to compound a felony, but hide microphones. He found them, smashed the recorder, and she made the deal. Apparently Boles argued with Merrill about his amount of payoff, grabbed the gun out of the glove compartment and, tho not intending to, shot him. Boles hid the car, planted the gun in Evelyn's room, watched from a nearby hill with binoculars until she found the gun, followed her down the hill and scared her into firing two wild shots, one which hit the car. He left the lights off the Merrill car to have Bagby's testimony proven false. Keith was smart enough to keep numbers of the bills she gave Merrill, so all this can be proven. Keith has made an offer of twenty thousand dollars for complete settlement with Bagby. Mason notes this should allow Evelyn to get a lot of new clothes for a screen test, give Neely a good fee for trying the larceny case, allow him to pay Drake what is owed, and have a bit left over for himself.

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Forty-sixth Perry Mason Novel, © 1955;

The Case of the Glamorous Ghost

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Della Street

Paul Drake

[Stephen Escalante]

Perry Mason


Court Clerk

George Belmont

Suzanne Granger

Hepner's maid service maid

Diane Foley

Belinda Apartments clerk (Webley Richey)

Courtroom crowd

A glamorous ghost, aka . . .

Belinda Apartments janitor


Officer Stanley

Ethel Belan

Newspaper reporter

Olga Corbin Jordan

Two operatives, one young, one mature

Coroner's office attendant

William Kensington Jordan

Las Vegas gamblinghouse dealer

Della's locksmith friend

aka Eleanor Jordan Corbin Hepner

Necking couple

Drake's night operator

Douglas Hepner

Car repair people

Frank Ormsby Newberg, an alias

Mr Homer Corbin, Olga's dad

Hamilton Burger

Sergeant Holcomb

[Sally Levan]

Mrs Fremont

Titterington Apartments manager

Hospital head nurse

Lt Tragg

Belinda Apartments switchboard girl

Eleanor's doctor

Judge Moran

Two assistant district attorneys

Nurse Myrna

Raymond Orla

Restaurant waiter

Dr Ariel


Sadie (Payson) Hepner

Special nurse

Dr Julius Oberon


[Doug's mother]

Merton C Bosler

Erle Stanley Gardner, in his Foreword, dedicates this novel to George Burgess Magrath, M D, who investigated over twenty thousand unsolved deaths.

It is standard that each novel builds the demands upon Mason and brings the District Attorney's office closer to having an open and shut case against our favorite attorney. Hamilton Burger is certain that he's got Mason this time, and so is Paul Drake. The only thing we can be certain of is that Mason's client is not guilty.

The subject of sex hardly arises in the Perry Mason mysteries, though Erle Stanley Gardner is not afraid to raise it in his novels under his A A Fair pseudonym. Neither in the novels nor in the television episodes is sex a major issue. Mason can be a bit romantic with Della Street, dancing with her after dinner, for instance, but it does not go beyond that. In this novel, however, the idea that a man and a woman over the age of consent might go off for a weekend together, is explicit. Further, Mason has Della become a decoy for amorous - predatory is Della's word - males. He send her to a very high-class hotel after work hours. Mason asks her about her evening and "Any approaches?" "Lots of them." "Significant?" "I don't think so. I think they represented merely the usual wolf on the prowl. Of course in a high-class hotel of that sort the approach is rather guarded, discreet and refined, but it has the same ultimate objective as it would have anywhere else." Then asked about what they did when she danced with them, she says "They made exploratory remarks . . . Not passes. Exploratory verbal excursions for the purpose of testing my defenses." "And who were your defenses?" [Here's the punch line.] "Adequate, but not impregnable. I didn't give them the impression that they were storming the Maginot Line. I let them feel that the territory might be invaded, conquered and occupied by definitely not as the result of one skirmish. In other words, I was sophisticated, amused and -- I didn't slam any doors." Now, that's the best suggestive line since Bogart sat next Bacall in "Key Largo."

It has been a long time since Mason put his hands in the armholes of his vest, but he does it here in chapter ten.

DBC keeps making typos in their editions. In Chapter 4 they change Hepner to Kepner.


Della Street brings Perry Mason a newspaper. The headline reads



George Belmont and Diane Foley were parked in Sierra Vista Park when a nearly nude girl approached. Diane gave chase but did not catch the glamorous ghost. The police later found the young woman clad in an opaque raincoat and "an expensive gossamer slip, torn into the equivalent of Salome's seven veils." Then Della announces the half sister of the ghost is in the outer office. Mrs William Kensington (Olga Corbin) Jordan tells Mason that her half sister Eleanor, whom she hates, is the ghost, and she doesn't have amnesia. Two weeks earlier she ran away with drifter and fortune-hunter Douglas Hepner. Olga, her husband, her father got a wire saying they were married in Yuma. Olga says that her father married Sally Levan and had Eleanor as their child. Then Sally died. She and Bill have covered for Eleanor with her dad, but this time it may be serious. She thinks Eleanor will fake amnesia but, when she sees her half sister she'll come out of it, remember everything up to the moment she disappeared, from which all will be a blank. She wants Mason to talk with Eleanor alone. They head off to the hospital.


The hospital head nurse tells Mason and Olga the rules, as set by the doctor, then has nurse Myrna take them to Eleanor, who comes out of her amnesia to recognize Olga. She thinks she's been out overnight, not two weeks. She remembers a car's lights coming directly at her and Doug, nothing since. She is told she was found in a diaphanous slip in a park. Eleanor's doctor enters and Mason says he's taking Eleanor to a sanitarium under the care of Dr Ariel. A special nurse arrives to help with the transfer. Eleanor remembers phoning Douglas' mother in Salt Lake City. When she tries to get out of bed the special nurse gives her a sedative by hypodermic. Mason asks Olga for photos and information on Hepner. Olga explains that Doug and Eleanor met on a boat coming back from Europe. Eleanor never missed a chance to go to Europe when her dad went there, and Bill often tagged along. She has a few snapshots of Doug, and the postcards, which she threw away, indicate they went from Yuma to Las Vegas.


From a pay station Mason gives Paul Drake instructions on finding Hepner. and his mother.


Olga and her father, Homer, are late in bringing to Mason items he needs in his search for Hepner, because they were looking for negatives of their prints. They didn't notice if the handwriting on the postcards was or was not Eleanor's. Hepner drives a big, air-conditioned Oldsmobile. Drake phones in the location and phone of Sadie Hepner in Salt Lake City. Mason phones her and learns her son was last known in Las Vegas, with someone identified as Suzanne. Olga remembers her as someone on a recent ship trip. Gertie has found several Granger's in Los Angeles, but Bill Jordan finds the number in Eleanor's copy of the ship's passenger list. Homer remembers one more useful detail; Eleanor's luggage is very conspicuous, in red and white checkerboard squares. He says spare no expense, then corrects himself, "no reasonable expense."


Mason and Street are stopped at the Belinda Apartments by the front desk clerk. They ask for Suzanne Granger. She is not in. Mason asks to leave a note for her and, while he writes it, Della watches the clerk, who goes to a phone. When Mason asks the room number, he is told 358, but Della saw him phone 360. They go around the back, the freight elevator, and a helpful janitor takes them up to the third floor. At 360, they are greeted by Ethel Belan, who recognizes them from newspaper photos. The first thing Mason notices in her apartment is that she has clipped the account of the park ghost from the newspaper. Then he notices the nice view over the Sierra Vista Park. It is a double apartment, but Ethel dodges identifying with whom she shares. Mason makes a stab in the dark [but a logical one for, as he notes, it is the dry season and Eleanor would not have packed a raincoat]; "Was that your raincoat Eleanor was wearing?" This strikes home, and Della is led to a closet with Eleanor's things, which are then packed into her checkered suitcases. Mason pays the rent Eleanor owes. As they leave Mason is figuring that Eleanor is unaccounted for from the second to the ninth since she went away on the second and the rent was due on the ninth. As they drive to Della's, the secretary skims the newspapers and notes all the publicity, when Mason was supposedly being paid by his clients to prevent publicity. At Della's apartment, they look inside the suitcases. When Mason comments on Eleanor's skin, Della inspects the skin cream jars and finds a cut diamond! Eventually they have a "glittering assortment of gems." Mason says Della will check in to a high-class hotel under her own name and put the gems in the hotel safe. He then calls Drake and orders a couple of operatives, one young, one mature, to keep tabs on Della when she is leading her double life. Drake reports that Sadie Hepner, so-called mother, is "a beautiful brunette babe about twenty-seven years old . . ."


Drake tells Mason that a dealer at a Las Vegas gambling place has identified Hepner, whom he knew three or four years ago when the man was a gambler. For about two hears he's been collecting rewards from the U S Government by identifying smugglers to the U S Custom's agents. Drake thinks Eleanor is capable of doing a bit of smuggling. Twenty-percent is the reward, but their is a further angle, namely blackmailing the person you could turn in so you won't turn them in. A phone call to Drake informs him that a necking couple found a man's body in the Sierra Vista Park. Mason phones Dr Ariel who is slow, but soon catches on that Mason wants Eleanor in deep hiding.


Mason phones Granger, suggests she "should have an opportunity for rehearsal" of the story she's "going to have to tell police and newspaper reporters later on." This gets her interest. At her apartment she admits to knowing Hepner, with whom she recently took a trip to Las Vegas, staying in two separate motel rooms. On the way, Doug phoned his mom, told her about his girl including her measurements and where she lived, and even put her on the phone. She's working on a book about paints and travels to Europe two or three times a year. While she was gone, her apartment was broken in to, and her paint tubes were cut open and the paint squeezed out all over her room. She thinks Eleanor did it. A phone call interrupts things and after it she blinks back tears and dismisses Mason. When Mason suggests she's just heard that Hepner is dead, she counters that she could hate him for that.


Della finds Perry already in the office in the morning. She recounts her amorous adventures. Then Mason notes, again, Eleanor's skin. She'd been missing two weeks, yet her skin was white, so she wasn't out in the sun. Maybe she was with Ethel while Suzanne was off with Doug, and during that time Eleanor might have committed vandalism. Suzanne, as an artist crossing the ocean often, probably has a good relationship by now with Custom's agents (so bringing in tubes of paint stuffed with gems would not be difficult). Then, perhaps, while Suzanne is away, Hepner, over the phone to his mom, gives a signal vandalize the apartment. Drake reports that Ethel Belan has cracked, and is locked up in the same hotel, same floor, as Della has her room and, as usual, the district attorney (Hamilton Burger) has an airtight case. Hepner's Oldsmobile has been found in a garage, the front end smashed in. The car repair people don't know who towed it in. Mason calls Dr Ariel and tells him to surrender Eleanor when he sees the newspapers calling her a fugitive. Mason tells Della to phone the hotel and tell them she's going to Mexico and she'll send a check to cover the rental.


Della brings Perry the morning newspapers [yes, there was a time when cities had morning and evening newspapers]. Eleanor had a gun of the same caliber with which Hepner was shot. She noticed it was gone when she packed for her trip with Doug. Mrs Fremont, manager of the apartment, says that Lt Tragg showed up with a warrant and has taken the luggage from Della's apartment. Della is now worried about the stones, but Mason reminds her that he has no knowledge that they have anything to do with any crime of which he is aware. Della worries abut Hamilton Burger "being so smugly triumphant>" Mason reminds Della that the D A "isn't a fast thinker and he isn't a thorough thinker."


The courtroom is crowded. Homer Corbin, wholesale jeweler, is there. Mason considers how damaging it would be if Hamilton Burger got him on the stand and made, even in passing, the connection between his jewelry business and Hepner's position as informant regarding jewelry smuggling. Burger gives his opening statement and is interrupted when he mentions psychiatric evidence. Raymond Orla, deputy coroner, testifies to making an autopsy, but the photographs are too gruesome to show the jury. Mason asks about the clothes of the decedent and is told they are in a locker and may be viewed. Mason wants them introduced. At this time, a list of what was in the pockets is introduced, and it is rather short. Dr Julius Oberon, forensic pathologist, testifies to recovering a .38 caliber bullet from the head of the dead man, who died 24 to 36 hours before the autopsy. After much cross-examination, he suggests the man was seated, and the murder probably next him, also seated. Merton C Bosler, ballistics expert, indicates that, with a metal detector, he found a buried gun from which a bullet was fired, and it matches the bullet recovered from the dead man. The gun is registered to Evelyn Corbin/Hepner. As the courtroom crowd leaves, Mason speaks to Eleanor, who admits she carried the gun for protection, had it when she left on the honeymoon, but didn't have it on her when the police apprehended her. A policewoman takes Eleanor away. A newspaper reporter tries to get Mason to admit the defense will be amnesia, but Mason says he's not an expert on the subject. Mason tells Street and Drake he can't plead guilty to avoid the death penalty because Eleanor won't admit to the crime. Mason has Drake empty his pockets, and there is a lot more than Hepner had in his. So, where did he live. The Dixiecrat Apartments says Drake, and his maid service maid said he was gone for long stretches, and there was never any food in the icebox, and his laundry must have been sent out. Mason jumps on this. Mason has Drake get his ultraviolet lamp and a block of wax.


The coroner's office attendant, after checking with Orla, shows Mason, Street and Drake the contents of Hepner's pockets and his clothes. While Della distracts the attendant with questions, and Mason shields the detective with Hepner's clothes, Drake finds the laundry mark and makes impressions of the keys that Hepner had. Drake goes t work checking on the laundry mark while Della goes to a friend to get keys made. When she has them, they go to Drake's, where the night operator sends them in. Drake has found that the laundry mark belongs to Frank Ormsby Newberg.


They go to the Titterington Apartments Room 220, Newberg's room. One of their four keys opens the front door, another the room door. The room is a total mess. They hear the elevator and voices, so all three step inside and shut the door. The voices approach. A woman is saying she saw the picture of Newberg in the papers. Mason tells Della to start writing, anything. Sergeant Holcomb arrives with the apartment manager. Mason brazens it out, counting things out to Della, taking inventory for the widow of the dead man, whose apartment this was, of course. Mason's parting shot; where's Hepner's mother.


Burger is crestfallen when the court reconvenes, for hardly anyone is there to witness his triumph. He calls Ethel Belan. She testifies to the defendant's coming to her and offering her money, which she desperately needed since her former roommate left, to let her stay two weeks to observe Hepner and Granger. She testifies to the accuracy of a drawing that represents the layout of her apartment. She now testifies to seeing a .38 caliber revolver in the possession of the defendant in an overnight bag. Later the defendant telephoned her and asked her to stand back of her because she was going to pretend amnesia, she was in a scrape and had to protect herself, and she'd send for her checkerboard luggage later. She gave the luggage to Perry Mason on the afternoon of the seventeenth. Burger "flung himself into his seat, grinning at the smiling faces of two assistant district attorneys who flanked him on each side.: Mason asks about the diagram. Webley Richey, the Belinda Apartments clerk, testifies to the layout of the apartments in the diagram, the two apartments being identical except the Belan closet being smaller. Mason ask Richey to recall the visit he and Miss Street made. Didn't he step into a glass-enclosed office and phone the apartment of Ethel Belan? Richey doesn't recall, then won't recall. Belan returns and Mason asks her about the gun, proving she doesn't have any concept of what ".38 caliber" means and used the expression because she was told by the D A. She does remember the call from Richey, in which she was warned that Perry Mason was at the front desk. Burger has some re-direct. Didn't the defendant have some articles of extraordinary value besides the gun in her possession? Yes, she was looking at gems on her bed, diamonds, rubies, emeralds. Mason attacks her veracity. Has she ever owned any precious gems. Only a ruby ring, and she's not certain it was genuine. When it takes a jeweler several seconds close up to tell if a single gem is genuine, how could she, looking at 50 to 75 gems from several feet, tell if any was genuine? She saw them the eve of the sixteenth. Suzanne Granger is next. She knew Evelyn was spying on her, and one time, as Doug got into the elevator, she went over to the Belan apartment, opened the door, and found Eleanor Corbin, who made threats, saying she'd kill her and Doug. Richey was in an adjoining apartment and heard the threats. She says the defendant had a gun like the one introduced in evidence. Court takes a recess and Mason takes Eleanor into the witness room with Della. He tells Eleanor she faces her own funeral by cyanide poisoning for first-degree murder. Eleanor now admits that, except for killing Doug, the prosecution's case is correct. [Note; we are exactly two-thirds the way through this mystery.] She says that she believes they were in love. Doug had told her about his business and that he believed Suzanne was a big smuggler or had a contact, and the reward he'd get would allow him to buy an interest in an importing company. She was to pose as the jealous, frustrated woman. Doug would plant a listening device on the wall of Ethel's apartment while she was at work. He'd go in and out the freight elevator because the janitor hates the snobs in the front office. She'd walk right by the switchboard girl and stay out while Doug was in. It was shortly after she told Suzanne she'd murder her that Doug heard what he thought he needed. They were common law man and wife, not married. The car wreck was a fib, but the car was smashed by a big truck that cane straight for Doug; she thinks it is a wonder he wasn't killed then. Doug was up against a regular smuggling ring, which plays dirty. That was when she gave him her gun. Mason asks her about the gems and she denies having any. He then tells her that Granger's apartment was vandalized and the tubes of paint cut open. She then admits that she found Doug dead, and the gun beside him. She then buried the gun. She went back to the apartment, tore her clothes, got the raincoat, and went back to the park with the idea of claiming to have been raped and Doug murdered, but the woman chased her. She went back to the apartment , got her clothes, took them to the park and buried them, but was caught by the police shortly thereafter. Mason points out that once it is known what Doug was doing for a living, she's crucified.


When the waiter presents the check, Mason notes he didn't dare to let the situation affect his appetite. Della and Paul each offers a solution. All Mason can admit is "A made-to-order case. No wonder Hamilton Burger was so damned happy. He'd been laying for this for years. This is the time he has everything his way." He has no idea of what he can do, other than find a loophole somewhere. Richey will be his barometer. Burger recalls Richey, the barometer goes down. Richey says he overheard the conversation between Granger and Corbin and it was as Suzanne described it. When Mason cross-examines him, Richey is caught not answering directly. First he has to admit that he listened into some long distance calls. He had heard the defendant's voice only over the phone, never talking directly to her, so how could he know he was hearing her speaking to Granger. Mason categorizes his responses as evasive, which Burger doesn't like. Mason trips Richey up on his description of the argument. He "didn't want to get mixed up in an altercation between two angry women" yet hadn't he characterized them as "one angry woman and one dignified one?" Richey was in an adjoining apartment. Which one? He can't remember. Mason finally gets him to say he was in Granger's apartment , that he hid in a closet and overheard Hepner. Suzanne jumps up calling Richey a liar. The judge silences her. She protests; "The witness told me he was in an adjoining apartment." Even the judge questions Richey. He investigated the vandalism in Granger's apartment. He had the janitor clean it up when Granger told him to not report it to the police. Then he went back to the apartment, hid in a closet when Granger returned and took a shower. Now Mason asks for the right to recall Granger and Dr Oberon. Burger objects to the first request and ushers the witness out, followed by Drake under Mason's orders. Dr Oberon is asked about two little spots on the right arm of the decedent as shown in photographs submitted by the pathologist. They might be hypodermic punctures, which he considered significant, but the district attorney told him to not mention it. Mason wants the body exhumed. The judge is angry with the prosecution because "what might have been a material factor was not investigated at the time of the autopsy." A recess is granted to Mason, over Burger's objections. Drake reports that Granger was sent home by an angry Burger. Mason admits that he took a chance when he saw a photograph for which there was no obvious reason why it was in the collection. He offers that his "only hope is to find some weakness in the prosecution's case."


Mason gets the needed bright idea; the keys. Two fit the Newberg apartment. He goes back, gets the manager to show him all the room keys, discovers that one matches room 281. After ditching the manager, Mason goes to 281 where he finds Sadie Payson (Hepner's so-called mother). Mason traps her with the fact that, somewhere, she has a family, so she's going to have to tell her story. She explains how the smuggling ring worked, with Doug getting in good with the Customs, then going on to blackmail. He'd telephone Sadie in Salt Lake and she'd fly to wherever the victim lived and get the gems. Doug used Eleanor, posing as a jealous neurotic, so he could get into the apartment next to Granger's with listening equipment. Doug had the gems before he was killed, and she's been hiding in this apartment since. Mason says she can have the reward on the gems if he can get her testimony into the record.


Della gives Mason "a chamois skin bag containing the gems that had been taken from Eleanor's cold cream." Judge Moran overrules Burger's objections and Granger takes the stand, under orders not to volunteer any information. When asked about her returning to the apartment (where Richey has claimed to have been hidden), she states she took a bath. "Was it possible for anyone to have been concealed in your closet?" Definitely it was not. I looked in the closet . . . There was no one there." The prosecution rests. Mason now gives his opening statement. It is a full explanation of the smuggling arrangement that involved Hepner with Granger, who made one mistake. He got the wrong woman. When he recovered a small fortune in gems he communicated with his accomplice and told her his life was in danger. He left the Belinda Apartments and went to his hideaway, but was followed and imprisoned, given morphine, and his place ransacked. When the gems were not found, they killed him and framed Eleanor. "And the proof of this is that Douglas Hepner did recover those gems" and Mason puts a chamois skin on the table and pours a cascade of gems from the chamois bag onto it. Burger is outraged at Mason's theatrics, but the attorney continues. Hepner found the gems but, in entering the hiding place, set off a burglar alarm. He quickly hid the gems he'd just found in the one place he thought they might have a chance to be secreted. He then left the apartment, expecting to have to fight his way out, but found the hallway empty, so made a mistake in thinking he'd gotten away, and opened his door to a knock, was taken prisoner. Now Burger says Mason cannot prove this. Mason says he has a surprise witness. Burger objects to introduction of any statement by Hepner. Mason counters that the statement was a dying statement, because it was the last thing said before morphine was injected. Sadie is called into the courtroom. She was associated with Hepner to recover gems. Judge Moran says there has to be some foundation for the testimony. Mason picks "up a sheet of paper which he had dropped over the pile of gems . . . Sadie Payson's eyes caught the glitter of thew gems. 'Oh, you did find them . . . Those are the ones Doug telephoned about! He told me he had them."


In chambers, Burger accuses Mason of cheap trickery. Mason informs him that Customs officials already have a search warrant for Ethel Belan's apartment and will find a place in her (shortened) closet where things are concealed. The phone rings, and Customs officials inform the judge that they found a quarter million worth of illegal narcotics. After telling Burger to "reconsider the entire situation" he says, "I feel you should be congratulated, Mr Mason, on your apparent solution of this case, although I deplore the dramatic manner in which you presented the facts." Mason explains that it had to be done this way "otherwise Ethel Belan and Webley Richey wouldn't have tried to escape." Richey wasn't in Granger's apartment, but Belan's. The judge's parting words to Mason after Burger "lunged from the judge's chambers" are "I deplore your procedure . . . but I'm damned if I don't admire the effectiveness of your technique."

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Forty-seventh Perry Mason Novel, © 1955;

The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary

Click HERE to go to the TV episode

Della Street

Department store clerks & cashiers

Drake's night operator

Perry Mason

Undercover officers

Candler's nurse, Rose Travis

Arlene Duvall

[Delivery boy]

Grand jurors

Colton P Duvall

Service station attendant

Newspaper photographers

Bank inspector (Jordan L Ballard)

Edward B Marlow

Newspaper reporters

Two armed bank guards

Night garage attendant, Mike

Phil Rice

Armored Truck driver (Bill Emory)

Process server (Marvin Kinney)

Helen Rucker

Santa Ana bank person

Hamilton Burger

Harvey Niles

Thomas Sackett, alias Howard Prim

Horace Mundy

Sgt Holcomb

Drake's agents and operatives

Innocent bystander*

Some Candler patients

Dr Holman B Candler

[Taxi driver]

Commercial photographer

Ideal Trade-In Trailer Mart salesman

*James Wingate Frazer

Jail matron


Mundy's partner

Judge Cody

Jim Hartsel

Bertha Frazer

Sidney Dayton

Ideal mechanic

Frazer's friends

The Foreword is a lengthy discussion of "Nightmare Deaths" in Honolulu, in which young Filipino men in the prime of life and best of health died from no identifyable cause. The dedication is to Alvin V Majorska, M D, who has written about this strange syndrome.

How can Mason avoid being convicted along with his client when the murdered man had just served Mason Scotch and shortly after Mason left his client entered, finding the decedent with a knife in his back? Three glasses, one with Mason's fingerprints, and a cigarette with his client's lipstick still smoldering in an ash tray.

Those who read to help themselves fall asleep, and like short chapters, will be annoyed by this novel. Only fourteen chapters, versus almost always nineteen or more. With those having so many chapters, one has to worry only about starting into the likely-to-be-long courtroom scene, which will usually run twenty pages but might run over forty. Here, every chapter seems long. The average length is thirteen pages in the Detective Book Club printing.

Of red herrings, and such. Erle Stanley Gardner is a master at presenting the reader with red herrings. Some just keep us from more quickly seeing the essential elements to solving the crime. Others seem to have no purpose, but may be just to establish a mind set towards one or another character. In the third chapter of this novel there is an event which leads nowhere. After her stolen trailer is found, Mason, his client and the Trailer Mart manager go to it and determine that it is hers, all three leave to go to the manager's office to effect return to the client. Then the client goes back, having left her purse. She doesn't immediately return, and eventually the manager gets worried that something is going on. The reader has been prepared to believe the client has something hidden, and must be checking to see if it is still there. She comes out of the trailer before they get back to it and explains that she saw her face in a mirror and realized she needed to make up, so did. This is accepted. Yet the whole event is unnecessary, as she drives away with the trailer, and could have had all the time she needed when she got back to her hiding place. Does it hold the plot back? Yes. Does it advance character? Possibly. If Gardner were being paid by the word, as were writers of pulp novels, he'd be a bit richer.

Previously, some witnesses have taken the fifth by stating that their answer might incriminate them. Here, for the first time, Hamilton Burger reminds Mason that he has "the right to refuse to answer those questions where you feel the answer may have a tendency to incriminate" him.

To solve the crime that brings about the murder, you only need to ask, who could have opened the armored car compartment and switched packages, and who was the accomplice who could have gotten copies of the bank key that locks the armored car compartment.


Della Street asks Perry Mason if he wants to talk with a girl who has been robbed . . . of everything. She is at a phone near the fourteenth hole of the Remuda Golf Club. It happens she and Della are about the same size, so clothing Della was going to throw out will fit her.


Arlene explains her predicament. She was living in a trailer in a meadow two hundred yards through woods from the fairway and another two hundred from the nearest road. She was sun-bathing, having gone into the woods and dropped her robe. When she got back her Cadillac and Heliar trailer were gone. She thinks the police have it, because her father, Colton P Duvall, is in state prison. He is supposed to have stolen $396,751.36 from the Mercantile Security Bank. Her father wrapped the money in a package at the Los Angeles bank for shipment to Santa Ana. He and the inspector sealed it. The inspector, who lost his job, was listening to the radio for race results on his bet, so wasn't watching Duvall closely. The package was put by Duvall into a locked cash compartment in the armored truck and the driver took it to Santa Ana, where a bank person with key opens the compartment. He found only checks from an AA to CZ file. Later, Duvall was found with some of numbered bills from a separate situation which had been put into the Santa Ana package. The police think he buried the money and, for a while, thought she knew where it was and was living on it. She can get $1500 as a retainer for Mason, but she wants the trailer back right away, as the police might find her real diary, which she has hidden it, even though she's planted another false one that will be easy to find. Mason says he'll try to protect her but if her dad took any of that money and she has any of it he'll turn her in.


Paul Drake has gotten quick results. One of at least two men who stole the truck was Thomas Sackett, Alias Howard Prim, who put it up for consignment at the Ideal Trade-In Trailer Mart. Mason asks how Drake found it and Drake explains how a good detective searches for something. In this instance he counted on arrangements with service stations on the seven main highways out of Los Angeles and calls to trailer parks and trailer sales places. Reports led two operatives to the Ideal. He hasn't found the Cadillac. Mason calls Arlene's contact, Dr Holman B Candler. Della has the switchboard connected thru to Mason's office when Gertie goes off duty. Arlene calls in, hears the good news including that, tho the trailer has been cleaned out, none of the wall panels has been ripped open. An Ideal Trade-In Trailer Mart salesman took the number of the jeep that drove the trailer in, and by that Drake located Sackett. When Drake connects Duvall with the bank theft, he is left out of the trek to Ideal by Perry and Della. At the mart a salesman takes them to the manager, Jim Hartsel. He remembers Arlene Duvall, because she paid with "Cash. C-a-s-h." He checks his records for her trailer number, then, when she joins them, they go to the trailer, and she is certain it is hers, because in a compartment, she finds an ink spill she couldn't entirely clean up. Now Mason wants it turned over, but it hasn't been reported to the police and isn't going to be, so Hartsel has no proof that Arlene didn't sell to Prim. On the way to the manager's office, Arlene returns to the trailer to get her purse, which she left on the bed. Mason offers to buy the trailer. Just call Prim and have him bring over proof of ownership. Hartsel makes the call to the number Prim gave him, and his name is unknown at the other end of the line. Hartsel agrees to sell if Mason will sign a statement. Mason doesn't even read it before signing. Arlene backs up her car, is hitched up by the Ideal mechanic. She tells Mason not to worry about payment, just get his men on the job.


Perry and Della join Paul. Arlene went to a department store and loaded up on her needs, without a list, lightning fast, and paid in cash. Undercover officials are on hand. Some follow her, others stayed and exchanged bills with the various cashiers. Arlene went back to her Remuda Golf Club meadow and set up housekeeping. Drake then explains the bank robbery, with inspector Jordan L Ballard, the other half, after being fired ending up getting into the service station business, eventually owning a station, then the block which, to his good fortune, a department store decided it needed for expansion. Now Ballard is well off, but still runs his own station. One last thing from Drake; the blackmail money on which the police have the numbers was mostly tens and twenties, so Arlene can safely spend bigger bills. The bulk of the stolen money was hundred -dollar bills, along with a hundred thousand-dollar bills. He then hands Mason an envelope left earlier by a delivery boy. Mason hides the contents from Drake's view; a thousand-dollar bill and a five-hundred-dollar bill with a typewritten note signed "A." Drake gets a phone call telling him that Ballard has given some new information to the police. Mason goes to Ballard's station, has the attendant put gas in his car while he talks with the owner. Ballard is friendly, says his bet paid off twenty-two-seventy-five on a two-dollar bet, and he bet a hundred on the nose. Mason notes that Ballard writes "with copperplate accuracy." Ballard says Duvall had a lot of friends, but "was all wrapped up in his daughter." The way things were at the bank, either Duvall slipped the money into the wastebasket, or he can't imagine how he did it alone. The other alternative would have to be that the two of them were together. Because only bank people had keys, each person put a seal on the package, and a tight schedule with the Santa Ana bank being phoned the arrival time, there was no way for a switch. Mason helps Ballard by driving him home, during which he learns that the checks in the package had been received in the bank within an hour of the package being sent, so the driver, who never enters the bank, couldn't have made a switch. At his bungalow, Ballard remembers that one of the thousand-dollar bills had a number he remembers, because it was 000151, and he bet on horse five to come in first. While getting drinks for Mason, the attorney checks his thousand-dollar bill and it is 000151. He takes it and the five-hundred-dollar bill and puts it in the roller curtain shade. Ballard shows Mason a photo of the armored car and its driver, Bill Emory, who is still driving. Ballard knows Dr Holman Candler, because the doctor circulated a petition to get Duvall out, and was the personal physician to Edward B Marlow, the bank president, as well as the physician for bank personnel. At his apartment garage, the night attendant tries to signal Mason but too late, a process server give his a subpoena to "Bring any and all bills, money, or other legal tender that you have in your possession paid to you by Arlene Duvall." Hamilton Burger made certain the process server would put it into Mason's hand. Mason leaves, phones Drake. Ballard has been murdered. Drake's agent, Horace Mundy, followed Arlene, with some difficulty involving an innocent bystander. Mundy saw a man whom he couldn't identify signal someone by pulling down a shade. He saw Arlene, who got there by a taxi, notice the man, go into the back yard and wait until he left. She went in, was there for a few minutes, then came running out. Mundy tried to follow in his car, but she eluded him. Mason wants Mundy not to talk for twenty-four hours, but Drake says only an hour or two, because as soon as the murder gets to newsmen, he can't hold back if he wants to keep his license.


Mason goes to interview Mundy. Drake's man tells the attorney he couldn't recognize the man in the house The man who was driving him was James Wingate Frazer. Mundy describes Arlene's activities, entering the bungalow, running out, being followed until she noticed she was being followed. Mason takes Mundy back to his partner.


Mason goes to Frazer's. The man now calls himself C and R Frazer, for Cops-an-Robbers Frazer. He retells his story, this time to Mason. He couldn't recognize the man inside, but got a clear view of the woman. Mason tells him to not got to sleep, as the police will soon be there.


When Mason phones Drake, the detective's night operator gives him a note. The police have learned from the station attendant that Ballard left with Mason. The attorney drives to Santa Ana, phones the doctor and is told by the woman who answers (nurse Rose Travis) that Dr Candler will meet him at his office. There Dr Candler admits to being a close friend of Arlene. He doesn't know who is financing her, but thinks it might be the bank president, Edward B Marlow, who may now think Duvall innocent. Mason informs the doctor of Ballard's death, and Chandler thinks Ballard may have been the thief, involved with another accomplice, and may have given Arlene money. Mason mentions that Ballard may have told the police about a bill from the robbery which Arlene had in her possession. Chandler's nurse of twelve years, Rose Travis, arrives unexpectedly, and is informed of the murder.


Mason enters his office only to be confronted by Della Street with another letter, addressed in typewriter. It has two bills, as before, but this note is handwritten and signed "Arlene Duvall." Mason tells Della he got rid of the first retainer. He asks her to get Paul to find out who was the delivery boy who delivered the previous letter. Before entering the grand jury room, Mason is confronted by exploding flash bulbs, but he gives them no statement. Burger reminds the attorney that he must answer all questions but those that may tend to incriminate him. Shortly into the investigation, Mason accuses of Burger making insinuations, giving the prosecutor a red face. Mason hands over his two bills. He states forcefully that he signalled no one at Ballard's. Burger brings in Horace Mundy who not thinks the man he saw make the signal was Mason. Then James Wingate Frazer says it was Mason he saw. Cross-examination is not allowed in a grand jury hearing, but Mason gets in his say. "If you want to be absolutely fair to the grand jury you might point out that I asked both of these witnesses if they could identify the man they had seen. Mundy told me that he didn't think he could. Frazer said that he might if he saw him again. But at that time Frazer was looking right at me." On his way out , Mason is confronted by newspaper reporters but, again, he gives no satisfaction. "Is it true you were the last man to see Jordan Ballard alive?" "The murderer saw him alive" is the obvious answer. Back at his office, Mason tells Della that, by getting Burger angry, he kept the prosecutor from asking the right question, the answer to which might crucify his client. Drake reports that the delivery boy might have been Prim, or even a girl, in a theatrical costume. Mason reports that Mundy identified him. Drake says Mundy hasn't given a written report. Mason wonders if the D A told Mundy what to do. Drake says the man is honest, but wouldn't fight with the D A. Drake says that the police have found out that Arlene gave them the slip. They've entered the trailer, without a search warrant, and are busy tearing it apart. Mason notes that, since Ballard was killed with his own knife, the murder was not premeditated. But the police will figure that the murder was Arlene, or her attorney. A phone call informs Drake that Arlene has been picked up by the police, and she claims Ballard was dead when she went in to the house. Drake says Arlene will pin the murder on Mason.


Newspaper headlines shout PROMINENT ATTORNEY FACES PERJURY CHARGE. The grand jury apparently held off charging Mason with perjury until after the trial of Arlene Duvall for the first-degree murder of Jordan L Ballard. Hamilton Burger has stated that he intends to show that the murder is connected to the bank theft and he will make every effort to connect money paid by Mason's client to her attorney with stolen money. Drake reports that the police found a whole cache of money in the trailer, including over a thousand dollars of the blackmail money. His agent who was following Sackett alias Prim got Sackett's fingerprints and now they know he "has a criminal record a mile and a half long" including forgery and stick-up work.


They go to Laguna Beach. Operative Phil Rice has been watching Sackett and his girl Helen Rucker. Mason confronts Sackett, who sends his girl to get dressed, with trailer theft, then asks about the delivery boy and using the uniform to get into Ballard's house to kill him. Rice and Drake hold Sackett while Mason intercepts Helen Rucker, pries a list from her, a string of numbers, possibly a code, which he has Drake's other operative, Harvey Niles, photograph. Sackett gives the wrong answer as to where he was the night before, because Helen corrects him. On the way to Dr Candler's, Mason suggests to Drake that he slipped hot documents into the shade at Ballard's. Drake says Holcomb has been there, played with the shade, and has not reported finding anything.


Dr Candler's nurse says the doctor is finishing up with a couple of patients and will see them next. They set the camera on a table and light up cigarettes. Then an emergency occurs that will keep the doctor another third of an hour, and Mason and Drake leave, return to their offices. Mason picks up Della, and they go to Paul to go out to dinner. He reports that his men followed Sackett, who made one phone call, possibly local, then burned a paper and put it in the station toilet, then dropped Rucker off and went home. The trio goes to a commercial photographer who begins the developing process while they go for cocktails, double Bacardis for Mason and Drake, a dry Martini for Drake. Newspaper headlines read STOLEN BILLS RECOVERED IN GIRL'S TRAILER. So Mason notes that there are still bills for which the numbers haven't been published. Mason is now sure that Sackett's list is the numbers of the stolen blackmail bills. The photographer pulls the film out of the developing tank, and the negatives are totally black.


A jail matron tries to keep Mason near the hidden microphone, but he and Arlene slip five seats away. Arlene says she went to see Ballard because she found $26,525 hidden behind a loose panel, including one one-thousand-dollar bill. She went back to the trailer to get her purse actually to make certain her real diary was still hidden. Ballard was giving Arlene the money, and believed he knew who the real thief was. She doesn't understand when Mason asks about "any other money." It must have been only thirty seconds between the time Mason left the house and Ballard entered the kitchen and was stabbed. The D A has offered to reduce the charge to manslaughter if she'll testify to Mason's signalling her. Arlene tried to reach Dr Candler, but he was away, and she got his nurse, whom she hates, and who hates her. Candler wouldn't give Arlene his apartment number. Only Candler knows where the diary is. Mason tests her sincerity and loyalty by telling Arlene to "Do whatever you think is for your best interests." Back at his office, however, there is good news from Drake. Harvey Niles developed his roll of film and the last shot, of the notes, came out perfect, along with a shot of Sackett putting the paper in Rucker's bathing suit. The numbers check with those now published in the newspapers. Mason asks Drake to have Niles to produce half a dozen 11 x 14 prints for him.


Hamilton Burger states that he is trying Arlene Duvall but Perry Mason will be called as a prosecution witness and his answers to questions may tend to incriminate him. Mason counters that he'll rip the testimony to pieces of any witness who tends to substantiate Burger's theory. Marvin Kinney, the process server, testifies to going to the Ballard house, finding Ballard dead, and seeing a still-burning cigarette in an ash tray. Mason confronts him with the room's bright light and his inability to see the glow of the cigarette, and saying so only because the police told him to remember it. Sidney Dayton testifies to finding Mason's prints on an empty glass, Ballard's on Mason's and another which had ice in it, and ice in a third on which the fingerprints remain unidentified. He also found a match between the lipstick on the smoldering cigarette and the lipstick found in the defendant's purse. Mason confuses him over the fingerprints on the glasses when a photo is introduced showing ice in the sink. Mason suggests that shows his glass had been emptied before the other two, and uses this to show that the police expert technician is paid to testify for the police, and is biased. Further, the lipstick test is not quantitative, so maybe other manufacturers could have made similar lipsticks. Burger calls Mundy to the stand, and he states that he cannot identify the man he saw as Mason, only that he had the same build. He saw Arlene Duvall go into the house right after the man he saw left, and he tried to follow her five minutes later when she ran out. Mason has no cross examination. James Wingate Frazer gets cornered by Mason who makes the witness admit he was sure he saw Mason after the police questioned him. Dr Candler takes the stand and admits he circulated a petition asking for Duvall's release on parole. Mrs Rose Rucker Travis [bang; if that doesn't hit you, you really missed it], his office nurse also circulated petitions. Burger asks the doctor if he has communicated with Arlene Duvall "In person, by correspondence and on the telephone?" Is he "familiar with the handwriting of Arlene Duvall?" Yes. Burger produces what is purported to be a diary in Arlene Duvall's handwriting and asks Candler to verify that it is her handwriting. Candler quickly says it is. Burger asks, "All of it?" and asks him to examine each page, as Arlene whispers to Mason that he must stop them. She says there are things in the diary that will turn Candler into an enemy. Burger directs Candler to a specific date entry, and Mason objects that all the doctor was to do was identify the handwriting and has done so. Candler is absorbed in reading the diary. Mason demands that he and his client be allowed to see the document. Candler reads on. The judge orders him to give the diary to Mason. Candler pays no attention. Mason and Arlene read what Candler was reading; "Ballard . . . is convinced that he knows what happened and how the theft occurred . . . through the connivance of Dr Candler . . . accompanied by his nurse, had been in the bank just about half an hour before the shipment of cash went out. He would have had ample opportunity in passing out of the bank entrance to have opened one of the filing drawers for canceled checks and scooped out a whole drawer full of canceled checks which he could have put in his empty instrument bag. He was the only one aside from the bank officers permitted to use that door. " [Now, dear reader, you have all Perry Mason needs to solve the crime.] Burger wants the diary back. He asserts that he only wanted it marked for identification, not entered as evidence yet. Mason asks to cross-examine, and thrusts an 11 x 14 photographic print of the sheet of figures which Sackett had in Candler's face. Candler doesn't recognize it. Burger asks for it, takes it to his desk to check the numbers with his own list. Mason takes it back while Burger looks at his own list. Burger demands it back, but Mason uses Burger's own rule to say he cannot now examine it, for it is marked for identification only. Burger argues that the list is so confidential he hasn't been able to get it, yet the defense has it, and that's not fair! "Mason merely smiled . . ." Mason now tests the doctor's recollection by asking him to diagram his office. Then he asks him if film in a camera next the wall of the X-ray room could be totally fogged if the X-ray device were turned towards the dividing wall. Yes, as long as the camera did not have a lead shield. "So if someone in your office thought I had valuable evidence photographed on a film in a camera and wanted to destroy that photograph, it could be done by using that X-ray machine in that manner?" "Yes. . ." Does Rose Rucker Travis have a sister, Helen Rucker? Yes. Does he know Howard Prim? No. Thomas Sackett? Yes, he's treated a patient by that name. William Emory? Yes, he's still a patient. Burger is grim as he calls Mason and demands to know where Mason got such a secret document as the 11x14 photograph which it is absolutely impossible for him to have. "Then if it was absolutely impossible it's quite apparent that I don't have it" Mason responds. They are trying a murder, not a theft, Mason notes. Mason is now asked if he lowered and raised the roller shade at Ballard's and Mason answers in the affirmative. What explanation does the attorney have for doing this if not to signal someone. Mason say he was hiding two bills, one a thousand-dollar-bill with the serial number 000151. "Burger's jaw sagged open." Mason further notes that he did produce all bills he had which he thought might be from Arlene Duvall, but the first bills were only signed by typewriter. Burger assumes to much. It is now clear that Ballard was alive when Mason left. "Then since Arlene Duvall entered immediately after your departure --" Mason interrupts Burger. What about the person about "his size and build who was keeping the house under surveillance, the person who saw him lower and raise the curtain, and wondered why (he) had done so. . ." How does Mason know there was such a person? Because when the police lowered the curtain, no bills were found. Someone had lowered the curtain before the police got there and took the bills. The police should check the unidentified fingerprints and see if they are Bill Emory's. They should check the list and see if it is in the handwriting of Emory, who would have copied the numbers of the blackmail bills to make certain he didn't spend any of them, and could be the only other person besides the FBI who could have such a list. Consider also that Rose Rucker Travis, sister to Sackett's girlfriend, had plenty of opportunity to make copies of keys of Doctor Candler's bank employee patients and could also have scooped up the canceled checks as she followed Candler out of the bank.


Paul, Perry, Della, Arlene and Dr Candler are rehashing the case. Mason notes that Ballard was on the right trail but had the wrong person. He made the typical amateur mistake of deciding who the guilty person was and then trying to fit the facts to his choice. Sackett forged the bank seals. Ballard had cultivated Emory to get information. Emory was watching the Ballard place and, as soon as Mason left, he drove his car into the driveway. He figured Mason was hiding something, and found the bills he'd so carefully sent Mason had been concealed before the subpoena was served on the attorney. Ballard probably saw Emory finding the bills, questioned him, and was killed because Emory realized Ballard was catching on to the truth. Mason reminds Arlene that there is a reward for recovery of the money, and his will help her and her dad "begin life again together" as a telegram from her dad in San Quentin prison states.

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Forty-eighth Perry Mason Novel, © 1955;

The Case of the Nervous Accomplice

Sybil (Mrs Enright A) Harlan

Georgiana Doxey

Court matron

Perry Mason

Two radio officers

Photographers & reporters at court

Enright A Harlan, "Enny"

Sergeant Holcomb

Jim Bantry

Roxy Claffin

Arthur Nebitt Hagan

Harlan's secretary (Janice Condon)

George C Lutts

A second taxi driver

Car agency person

Ezekiel Elkins

Drake's operative Jim

Judge Sedgwick

Cleve Rector

Harry Blanton

Marvin Pierson

Herbert Doxey

Arresting and questioning officers


Regerson B Neffs

Jail matron



Hamilton Burger

Jacques Lamont

[Gertie's boyfriend]

Judge Hoyt

James Bell Gibbs

Paul Drake

Dr Jules Oberon

Court reporter

Sybil's cleaning girl

Doxey's and Lutts' waitress

Stephen Ardmore

Cab driver (Jerome C Keddie)

Sidney Drayton

Newspaper columnist

Ruth Marvel

Alexander Redfield


The Foreword is about Joseph Worcester Spelman, M D, state pathologist of Vermont, a shrewd, cautious, level-headed investigator. Dr Spelman has prepared a collection of color slides about violent deaths, which help separate suicides from murder, and vice versa. The book is dedicated to Dr Spelman.

In this novel we learn unequivocally that Perry Mason has no middle name when, in Chapter 2, he is asked for his middle initial and says there is none.

Some good advice is given by Mason's female client. "A woman should never forgive a man for infidelities. She should remain in complete ignorance."

Gertie has a boyfriend.


Della Street says that a Mrs Enright A Harlan, who is having domestic problems, is in the office, and convinces Perry Mason to see her. Sybil (Mrs Enright A) tells the attorney that her husband's stepping out on her and she wants to do something about it. (In Chapter 3, she puts it quite elegantly; "I don't want to get evidence. I don't want a divorce. I don't want a separation. I want my husband.") Today is their fifth wedding anniversary. She thinks Enny will come running to her soon with a property settlement and she'll "get cast in the role of giving him financial headaches." She wants to be the glamor girl, so wants the other woman to be the financial headache. Does she want Mason to "Nip it in the bud?" "Not the bud. It's blossomed. . . . Cut the stem." She wants Mason to buy stock in a real estate development company and become "the nastiest, most technical, mot conservative old fuddyduddy in the world" at the stockholder's meeting. This will mess financial things up so Enny's girl Roxy will start asking him embarrassing questions. She tells Mason to call George C Lutts and ask what it will take to purchase two thousand shares in the Sylvan Glade Development Company, then pay it. When Mason says this is "hardly the way to buy stock" she responds, "I'm not buying stock. I'm buying a husband."


Lutts is absolutely flustered over why Mason would pay his unreasonably high asking price for the stock shares. Mason asks him about the company directors. Ezekiel Elkins is extremely practical. Cleve Rector is his temperamentally his opposite. Herbert Doxey is Lutts' son-in-law. Regerson B Neffs completes the board of which Lutts is the president. As Mason notes (in Chapter 3), Lutts "didn't want to sell, but he was afraid to let [him] get out of the door for fear [he'd] get away and wouldn't come back." Lutts shows Mason an anonymous letter saying the stock may be worth a lot more than he thinks. Mason starts to walk out with his check, suggests that by the next morning his offer will be twenty thousand, after noon it drops to twelve, the next day ten, and then nothing. Lutts rushes to sign the transfer. Mason goes into Doxey's room and has the transfer recorded.


Sybil has come to take Mason out to the Sylvan Glade property. On the way out Sybil explains that the once-fashionable property is near where an expressway is being constructed, and fill dirt is needed. Sylvan Glade's property is a big hill which can provide fill and, when leveled, will be worth a fortune. Roxy has a house directly opposite the Sylvan Glade property, and jumped the gun and sold her hill to the expressway. She wants Mason to make Roxy pay for the roadway she needs, which she'd get free if Sylvan Glade gets a deal to sell its hill. One old mansion remains at the top of the Sylvan Glade's property. They stop there, and Sybil pulls binoculars out of the glove compartment. Mason notices a gun, which the lady keeps for protection, in the back of the glove compartment. They climb to the top floor where Sybil has a chair so placed that she can sit an with binoculars see Roxy and Enny at her pool. A contractor's shack is just below. Mason observes the two through Sybil's binoculars, sees Enny sweep Roxy "into his arms in a crushing embrace." As they return to the car, Sybil admits she's "a creature of emotions. . . . sophistication is a thin veneer. " Sometimes she has "the most savage, ruthless impulses." Sybil puts the gun in her handbag to return to her husband's gun collection saying that she's "not going to need it after all -- now that [she] is] beginning to understand the way [he has] things planned."


Lutts announces that he has disposed of all his stock and is resigning as president of the board. The other board members want to know what Mason paid. They vote Lutts out of office. Mason explains the right of lateral support whereby, without giving notice, a property owner cannot undermine the natural, normal support of adjacent property. He suggests that if they terraced the hill it could be a very fine residential property. Enright Harlan asks "Are you trying to turn an asset into a lawsuit?" Mason grins; "I'm turning a lawsuit into an asset."


Gertie, staying late waiting for her boyfriend, has Mrs Harlan on the phone. Mason tells her to take a cab from Union Station to his office. He advises Paul Drake to wait for instructions. Sybil tells Mason that Lutts was shot at the house on the hill. She explains; Neffs complained that Lutts sold out, so Lutts bought him out, 3000 shares at $8 per share. He phoned her and the message was passed on by her cleaning girl. Lutts had found out she was behind Mason's stock deal, and he was going to tell Enny unless she told him why the stock was so valuable. They drive to the house, he goes in. When he doesn't come out quickly, she follows and finds him dead on the third floor stairs. She sees a gun, but not the person with it, and runs. She catches a cab, and gets the driver to take her to Union Station. Mason advises her to call the police and she says no, because then Enny will know what she's been doing. Mason asks her about the cab driver and the charge slip. As they go to get the gun Sybil's put back in the glove compartment, Della slips Perry a note telling him that his client has changed shoes and stockings. The gun has been stolen. Mason asks if she has a levelheaded, calm, sufficiently prominent woman she can trust. Ruth Marvel, president of her Current Topics Club. He gives her instructions as to how to get picked up by the same cab driver but with Ruth Marvel, who will pay after they've driven the same miles as Sybil did earlier, and get a receipt. If she does this, she may get lucky.


Della repeats her tale of changed shoes and stockings. They go to Drake's where the switchboard girl recognizes them and sends them in. Drake is listening to the radio calls of the Red Line dispatching office. He locates Sybil's cab, 761. When Sybil calls in, Mason sends her and Ruth to the appropriate pick up point. Della and Perry go back to the attorney's office and get Doxey on the phone and learn that some of their property already washed away stakes marking the northern property border. Mason asks him to have Lutts phone at the earliest opportunity. Then a phone call from Sybil. She says she recognized the cab driver but he probably didn't recognize her. She has the receipt, which is the same sum as her earlier ride. Mason tells her to enjoy her wedding anniversary when her husband comes home.


Doxey answers the phone. He's worried, because Daddy Lutts always has dinner at seven o'clock, and he's not even called in. Mason asks to go out to the Sylvan Glade property. He picks up Doxey, who waves goodby to his wife, Georgiana. On the way to the site, Mason admits what he paid, and learns of Lutts' purchases and that he knew who was behind Mason's purchases. Doxey finds he dead father-in-law. Mason has him phone the police. Two radio officers arrive, one finding the body. Sergeant Holcomb arrives and, of course, doesn't believe Mason or his client has nothing to do with the murder. On the way back to Doxey's, Mason raises questions about Lutts and his daughter. Mason stops to make a call to Drake, who reports that Sybil phoned to say that Roxy and Enny have seen Roxy's lawyer, and this woke up Enny who is now "behaving in a most satisfactory manner and exactly as anticipated." Doxey is left to tell his wife of her father's death.


Della tells Mason that Rector and Elkins have written him letters, and Arthur Nebitt Hagan, Roxy's attorney, has threatened to hold Mason responsible for his client's loses. Drake reports that Lutts was hit with a thirty-eight from a distance of eighteen or twenty inches about four-thirty. Jerome C Keddie, the cab driver who picked up Sybil and took her to Unions Station, has told the police about her. A phone call to Drake indicates that the murder weapon has been found, a thirty-eight Smith and Wesson sold to Enright A Harlan. A taxi driver who picked up a fare who fit the description they were looking for at Union Station and drove to a place on Lamison Avenue led the police to the Harlan's at 609 Lamison. They are now being interviewed by the police. Operative Jim reports that the police found a taxi receipt in Sybil's purse. Mason tells Drake to disappear; Harry Blanton will run the office in his absence.


Sybil is happy as a lark, because she has her husband back. He told her how Perry Mason had handled the stockholder's meeting, and that "Roxy's lawyer had said that [Mason was) the most diabolically ingenious attorney of the whole California Bar" so she told him if she ever got into trouble she'd get Mason as her attorney. She hasn't told the arresting or questioning policemen anything, just smiled sweetly at him. She's certain that the gun she had did not kill Lutts. Enny didn't kill Lutts because she saw him, or his car, drive up and taking her away to an appointment after five. A jail matron leads her out. Mason phones Blanton and tells him to get information on Doxey, Claffin, Enright, Elkins, Neffs, and Rector, and find out where two of three shots were fired from the murder weapon.


District Attorney Hamilton Burger addresses Judge Hoyt, stating that he hopes to avoid the "legal pyrotechnics, spectacular cross-examinations, dramatic assertions" which have no place in a preliminary hearing. Judge Hoyt glances sternly at Mason, states that some hearings have gone "far beyond the scope which the Court feels the framers of the law had in mind." Mason with "a mask of cherubic innocence" counters with "I take it the Court is not insinuating that the counsel for the defense is to be deprived of the right of cross-examination?" Then Mason passes on cross-examining the first four witnesses. First is Dr Jules Oberon who testifies to the time of death as 4:30 plus or minus ten minutes. Second is Herbert Doxey testifies to having lunch with Lutts and the orders being served by the waitress at three-eighteen. Later he went with Mason to the house where the body was found. Sidney Drayton testifies to the angle and distance the gun was fired into the dead man. Alexander Redfield says the gun held three empty cartridges, two Peters, one that killed Lutts, and the last fired, a U M C. The loaded cartridges were Peters. Judge Hoyt is annoyed that Mason has no cross-examination and warns him that he should not refrain from proper cross-examination. Mason passes on the offered opportunity to examine any of the witnesses. Harold Ogelsby, one of the questioning policeman, says that, after advising the defendant of her rights, she said nothing. When Mason doesn't object, the judge does. Burger comes to the point. Did the officer find anything in the purse of the defendant. Yes, a receipt from the Red Line Cab Company for cab seven-sixty-one, trip nine-eighty-four, in the sum of two dollars and ninety-five cents. Again Mason has no cross-examination. Jerome C Keddie, the taxi driver of seven-sixty-one says he picked up the defendant about four-thirty and drove her to Union Station and collected the fare of two ninety-five plus tip. He gave her a receipt which she put in her purse. Burger shows the receipt in evidence, and the cabby identifies it. Mason now begins cross-examination, eventually confusing the driver into wondering if he had not seen the defendant later in the day, since the receipt is not for the afternoon trip he is talking about and which is in his log book as trip nine-seventy-one, but is trip nine-eighty-four. Mason gets Keddie to admit he saw the defendant only once the day of the murder, and it might have been the evening trip, not the afternoon one. The judge suspects something is wrong, but tells Burger that there is not enough evidence to bind the defendant over for trial. Burger angrily dismisses the case. Mason asks who signed for the gun; Enny's secretary. Before the court matron takes her away, Enny comes to her, having learned that she put up the money for Mason's purchase from Mrs Doxey who told Roxy. He stomps away and Mason and reporters and photographers follow. Mason asks Harlan, "How did that gun get out of your possession and up at the scene of the murder." This changes the attitude of the newspaper people.


Mason and Street drive up to the old mansion and the attorney, using blanks, tests Sybil's statement that she didn't hear shots. Della hears shots with the radio off, then doesn't when the radio is on loud, but does when Mason retests with the radio at normal volume. Mason has Della hold the gun at arms length, then at her body. In either case, he figures that the first shot went wild. When the second shot, the one that killed Lutts, was fired, was Lutts charging the murderer, or the other way around?


Mason goes to Doxey's and interviews Mrs Doxey. She has no idea of who bought the stock from her father. Doxey arrives and gets angry with Mason for intruding on his wife, and also declares that, even at lunch with Lutts, there was no idea as to who was behind the purchase. Back at his office Drake reports that most everyone had an alibi. Cleve Rector was with Jim Bantry of the Bantry Construction and Paving Company at four, and at his office by five, but is unaccounted in between. Elkins is unaccounted for, is not talking, and has a black eye. Mason explains his experiment with the gun shots. Lutts did not have his car keys when found dead. Photos Drake presents shows the ignition switch was off. Drake checks with the car agency and is told that the radio cannot be played with the ignition off.


Judge Sedgwick gives the peremptory challenge to the defendant, then the people represented by Burger and Marvin Pierson, and has the jury sworn in. Burger gives his opening statement, which includes the fact that the defendant took a cab from Union Station to her home, then went to the parking lot where her car was parked, did something to the door of the glove compartment, telephoned someone, and went to the office of Perry Mason. He wants a verdict of first-degree murder. Mason asks for a short recess, confronts Sybil with her lies. She admits to returning to her home to change clothes, meeting Ruth Marvel who advised her how to handle things. Mason points out that Burger might learn this, since the cabby could identify her from their evening trip. She asserts she had the radio on loud, did not hear the shots, and took the keys from the ignition when she went to investigate. She's sure the keys will never be found. The bailiff calls the court back into session.


Hamilton Burger puts on his case methodically all morning. In the afternoon he calls Jacques Lamont, parking lot attendant, who testifies to seeing Sybil take a gun out of her car's glove compartment about four o'clock. Around five-forty-five she returned in a taxi, went to her car, did something with the glove compartment, made a phone call, and left in the taxi. James Bell Gibbs, gives the usual information to the court reporter. He is a service station operator, and serviced the defendant's car. When he put his bill in the glove compartment, it slipped inside, so he opened the glove compartment and found a gun looking like the murder weapon, as well as binoculars. Ruth Marvel is forced by Burger to state that Sybil asked her go with her in a specific taxi. Mason comforts her by asking if Sybil wasn't acting under his advice to see if a certain taxi driver could identify her. Mr Keddie didn't recognize her, did he? No. Keddie now recognizes the defendant as the one he picked up in the afternoon, but Mason finds out that he thinks so because the D A had pointed out Ruth Marvel through a one-way mirror-window as the one who rode with her in the evening. Mason points out that to Keddie that he had "sworn to something that wasn't so" and his current testimony was "inspired by statements made to (him) by the district attorney." Stephen Ardmore testifies to finding the Lutts' car keys in a sugar bowl in the Harlan household, and finding sugar on gloves of Mrs Harlan. Mason asks why he didn't find these before several people had the opportunity to plant the evidence. Didn't he examine the woman's husband's finger mails for traces of sugar? No. Janice Condon, Enright Harlan's secretary, admits to signing for the purchase of the gun. Ezekiel Elkins is Burger's surprise witness. Mason makes him put his testimony on immediately, not after an adjournment, and Elkins testifies to seeing Mrs Harlan go to her car and the glove compartment, then following Lutts and Mrs Harlan to within a mile of the Sylvan Glade property where he cut off another driver, then was pushed off the road by that driver, so quit following. The other driver gave him a black eye. Mason now accepts an adjournment, rather than cross-examine the witness.


Mason asks Drake which of the involved parties is a bad shot. Elkins and Claffin. Harlan, Neffs, Doxey and Rector are all good shots. Drake reports that Claffin took some old stuff to the dump. Blanton is called in , for he was shadowing her. A stool, some torn canvas sacks, old inner tubes, a coil of wire, scrap iron, boards that had been on a packing case were dumped. Mason finally decides that this is the key to the case, and asks Drake to prepare a four-wheeled truck such as used by bellboys so that it will squeak, and put boards, a stool and scrap iron on it and cover it and bring it to court.


"Judge Sedgwick Frowned with obvious distaste as he surveyed the jammed courtroom." A newspaper columnist had psyched out Mason's strategy of jockeying things so he'd begin the court session Monday morning. Ezekiel Elkins begins answering question "yes" or "no," adding nothing. Mason asks him if he wasn't coached by the District Attorney. "As much as three hours?" "Yes." Elkins becomes more responsive. He testifies in detail to getting curious about Lutts buying stock, following him, seeing him make one phone call at the restaurant, then driving with his wife to the Sylvan Glade property. He doesn't have the name of the person who gave him his black eye, or the license of the car or even its make. The prosecution rests when Mason finishes with Elkins. The defense calls Enright A Harlan. Burger protests that Harlan is a witness he couldn't call, yet the defense can, and he insists that strict rules be followed. Yes, he did business with Claffin, who introduced him to Doxey. He has six revolvers, the police have one, which his secretary signed for. He taught Claffin to shoot, but she gave up and returned her gun. The revolvers re in a locked wall compartment to which there are two keys, one kept by his wife. The judge is a bit worried that the witness may be testifying against his wife, but Sybil says it is okay since Mason wants it. Drake comes in with the squeaky four-wheeled truck, and the judge suggests Mason should have waited until the court takes a recess. Mason now demands the witness produce his list of his guns and check it with what is in the locked compartment. Harlan has to go home to do this, and is given a police escort. Drake moves the truck down the aisle as spectators leave for the recess. Drake says that anyone on Mason's list hurries away, he'll be followed.


Doxey is the one who rushed away, says Drake, to his garage where he checked a closet. Harlan has not returned, so Mason calls Herbert Doxey. His first two questions about his knowing Roxy Claffin and her taking articles from her garage to the dump are objected to, and Judge Sedgwick sustains them. Harlan has returned and is put on the stand. He says there is no external evidence that the wall compartment has been tampered with, but one of the revolvers inside is not his. Noon recess. Mason and Drake head to Doxey's and get Mrs Doxey to open the closet at the back of the garage. They find boards that were part of a shooting stand, scrap iron to hold it steady, canvas sacks which once held sand. Mason tells Drake that the shooting stand had been placed in the contractor's shack and so aligned with a knothole that a bullet cold be fired up the hill into Lutts' chest. Drake protests, that Doxey got a sunburn, and powder burns indicate the gun was fired close up.


When Burger has no cross-examination of Harlan, Doxey is recalled. He is absent. Roxy Claffin is called. He gets her to admit she knew that Doxey had substituted a gun for the one she got from Harlan and it was the substitute she returned to Harlan. Did she know of Doxey's plan to kill Lutts? Not then, but afterwards she became afraid she'd be implicated, so she took the things in her garage to the dump.


Perry, Paul, Della, Sybil and a policewoman are in the witness room. Mason explains how Doxey fired from the contractor's shack, resting his arm and gun on sandbags. The first bullet he fired proved he could kill Lutts from the shack. The third, missing, bullet, the U M C, was actually just a shell sealed with wax, and fired after he kille Lutts, close up t create the powder burns. The maid told Mrs Harlan that Lutts had called and she told Lutts he coudl reach her at the beauty shop. There was only one phone call. So Lutts had to learn Sybil was behind Mason fromDoxey at lunch. Doxey had been minipulating the company's books and Lutts had apparently begun to see this. Enny comes in to apologize to Sybil and she handles him perfectly, saying she knew Mrs Claffin was the vain type who demanded lots of attention and flattery and he did right to make a living for the firm of Harlan and Harlan. There's nothing to forgive! The bailiff enters, says Mrs Claffin has made a complete confession and the police are searching for Herbert Doxey and the judge wants to instruct the jury to return a verdice of not guilty. Sybil links her arm in Enny's and heads into the courtroom. Drake comments on how Sybill looks "so damn demure, so utterly innocent." "'Woman,' Mason said, "are at their most deadly dangerous when they look like that.'" Della comforts her Chief. Drake comments, "Darned if you aren't looking demure and innocent yourself, Della." "The glance she flashed Drake held nothing of gratitude.

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Forty-ninth Perry Mason Novel, © 1956;

The Case of the Terrified Typist

Perry Mason

Walter (Stockton) Irving

Two lawmen

Blood expert


Cigar stand girl (Ann Riddle)

Honcut; Honcut, Gridley & Billings

Max Dutton

Della Street

[Mr Carson}

Irving's cabby

Limousine driver


Janitor and assistant

Drakes operative tailing Irving

Friendly reporter


Munroe Baxter

Cop stopping Irving

Drake's secretary


Yvonne Manco

Chaumants' taxi driver


A terrified typist, aka . . .

Barge accomplice

Airline ticket sellers

Nan Ormsby

Miss Mosher

Drake's switchboard girl


Alonzo Martin Liggett

. . . Mae Wallis (Jordan)

Company representative/friend

Judge Hartley

Dan Ormsby

Miss Mosher's secretary

Gertie's boyfriend

Hamilton Burger

James Kincaid

Paul Drake

Marline Chaumont

Court attachés

Agnes Elmer


Marline's brother Pierre


Josephine Carter


Nora Pitts

Jack Gilly

Ruth Dickey

Building manager

Cabachon apartments manager

Officer of the court

Deputy D A

Duane Jefferson

Two men with Mae

Various witnesses

"Pierre's" guard

The Foreword , dated Temecula 1955, honors by dedication, the Honorable John Ben Sheppard, attorney general of Texas, who solved the problem of the Principality of Duval, a virtually sovereign country within the borders of Texas. In the forward Erle Stanley Gardner gives examples of Texan sincerity, noting that Texans think in superlatives, speak in superlatives.

There was only one TV episode in which Mason's client was found guilty. Here is the novel in which Mason's client is found guilty.

Of course anyone who reads detective novels knows of stool pigeons. How about a stool squab? That's French, according to this mystery.


Perry Mason has been busy editing brief which Jackson has edited down to ninety-six pages to thirty-two. Della Street says Stella has the flu and Annie is snowed under. Mason suggest Della call the agency and get a typist. The agency cannot get someone right away, but will send someone who can finish the work by afternoon the next day. Gertie comes in and says there is a girl who is "scared to death" in the outer office. All Gertie said to her was "I guess you're the new typist" and the girl nodded. Gertie rushes back to the switchboard, Della goes to the typist. Ten minutes later she returns and reports that when the terrified typist was given her work, the "typewriter literally exploded into action." Mason suggests they hire for a week or two, but Della says she may be fast, but the should see if she's accurate.


Della brings Perry the first ten typewritten sheets. They are excellent. Della phones Miss Mosher to find out more about the typist, Mae Wallis, that she sent. Miss Mosher's office secretary says her boss is out but there is a memo to find a typist. An hour later Miss Mosher returns Della's call and says she never sent anyone. Della is certain the typist said she came from the agency, but Mason says Gertie never said that. He sends Della to find out, and the girl is gone. Mason sends Della to the girl's powder room to see if she has a flask. Della suggest she'll also check for the odor of marijuana. Mason thinks she's walked out on them. Paul Drake enters with the information that cops are crawling all over the building. They were looking for a dame on this floor. Mason has Della catch Gertie before she can leave. She reports that police were in the office due to a burglary down the hall. She told them only regular employees and "a relief typist fro m our regular agency" were in the office and they left. A stenographer saw the girl fumbling with keys at the South African Gem Importing and Exploration Company and telephoned the building manager. She couldn't identify the woman, whose back was to her, but could recognize her clothes. The police found the office in a mess, but no shipments had yet come to the office, run by Duane Jefferson and Walter Irving. It strikes that they went to their office without being told police were in it, so Drake calls the manager and asks why not. The manager calls back. He and the stenographer were watching people who were coming out of the elevators. Drake tells Mason that gems are now shipped, insured, in the regular mail.


Mason suggests to Della that the typist came into their office blind because she knew her escape was cut off and then Gertie let the cat out of the bag that we were expecting a typist. Mason instructs Della to check the typewriter and women's restroom. He goes to the lobby and chats up the cigar stand girl who has just purchased the stand firm Mr Carson. She remembers Jefferson and Irving, and the manager and young woman watching the elevator. Mason returns to the office. Della has found a wad of gum encrusted with diamonds, and fingerprints. In her search of the restroom she found a lot of love letters. They read one. It is to "My dearest Prince Charming" and is signed "Your faithful and devoted Mae."


Three days have gone by. Della has been looking for Mason. Jefferson has been arrested for murder. Mason tells Della to chew some gum and use it to place the gum and diamonds back where she found them. The janitor and an assistant have moved the desk out of the way. Irving joins them. He's authorized to retain Mason on behalf of Jefferson, whom he thinks is hiding a girl. He says the police found $100,000 worth of diamonds in their office. They suggested Jefferson murdered a smuggler, Munroe Baxter. His accomplice, Yvonne Manco, has confessed. Baxter courted her in the Mediterranean, near Gibraltar landed via helicopter on the ship. He went overboard with $300,000 worth of diamonds, and was supposed to swim to a waiting barge in Los Angeles Harbor. Yvonne waited for him to come and share the take, but he never showed. The barge accomplice says Baxter drowned. Irving writes a $2,000 retainer against $5,000 fee, which excludes expenses.


Perry tells Della he took "the case in self-defense" so he wouldn't have to tell the district attorney what he knows. They wonder why he was chosen to represent Jefferson, why he got a cable to represent him even before Irving knew. Mason tells Della to buy a fingerprint camera. He has Della type a detailed description of the typist. He takes it to Paul Drake, nodding to the switchboard girl on the way in. He gives Paul the description and asks him to furnish an office and go looking for a girl who can "copy rapidly and perfectly and at a very high rate of speed" with pay set at $200 a week. He will, of course, be deluged with applicants, but few will meet the typing requirement. He will compare the fingerprint on the driving license of those who do with one which the lawyer will supply. Her name may be Mae.


Jail. Jefferson is American, but puts on British airs, which Mason suggests would negatively affect a jury. Jefferson admits to discussing the Baxter suicide with a company representative and friend. He doesn't know where the diamonds in his office came from. He hesitates when questioned about a girl friend, then denies knowing anyone.


Mason tells Della he's certain Jefferson is hiding a woman. They set up photographic equipment, make photos of the gum ball in place and close-ups of the fingerprints, all the while keeping Gertie in the dark because she romanticizes everything and might tell her boy friend.


It is a few mornings later. The grand jury has filed an indictment, which prevents the defense from cross-examining witnesses until the trial, unlike a preliminary hearing where the witnesses can be cross-examined. There is no murdered body but, as Mason explains, corpus delicti means "body of the crime, not body of the victim. Drake has done his job, and located Mae W Jordan who lives at 792 Cabachon Street.


Drake is very pleased with himself. He's found Mae, and reports that Walter Stockton Irving has made one local contact, "A French babe. Marline Chaumont" who lives in a bungalow on Ponce de Leon Drive with her mental case of a brother. Mae is working in a law office but wants out.


Perry and Paul go to the Ponce de Leon Drive bungalow. Marline Chaumont has the door on a short chain, and talks from the house, not letting the two in, so as to keep her brother from excitement. She describes Irving as rather simple, a man who likes to show off beautiful women on his arm. She thinks Jefferson dangerous.


They go to the typewriting suite, which is a place in the building available to clients, particularly international ones, who need such space only occasionally. Nora Pitts, a Drake operative, is introduced as the fake receptionist. Mae does not show up. They go to Cabachon Street and locate Mae's apartment. The manager says she left, with suitcases, for some time, with two men.


Drake warns Mason of Irving's imminent arrival. Irving is angry at Mason for going out to Chaumont's. He certain that the invalid brother is Baxter. He says he's going to find a new lawyer.


A cablegram from the South African Gem Importing and Exploration Company says Mason is to continue his work. Drake reports that Irving is all wet. Marline took Pierre, her brother, out of the state hospital. Mae has been picked up the by the district attorney's office. Two lawmen disrupted Mr Honcut of Honcut, Gridley and Billings when they picked her up. Drake's man lost Irving when his cabby pulled through a light just as it changed, and a cop stopped him when he followed. Meanwhile Marline and Pierre went to the airport where they disappeared. Their taxi driver said their suitcases were heavy, but ticket sellers couldn't locate them by way of excess baggage checks. Mason explains his strategy to Drake.


The jury is sworn in by 10:30 of the second day of the trial and Judge Hartley expects "a long, bitterly contested trial." Hamilton Burger gives his opening statement, claiming he'll show that the defendant murdered Munroe Baxter to get his smuggled diamonds. Courtroom attachés are surprised at the shortness of his statement, his shortest ever. Yvonne Manco is called by the bailiff. She admits to being the accomplice of Baxter in the smuggling scheme. Mason gets her to admit she is being granted immunity for testifying exactly as she did in the district attorney's office. Jack Gilly, who rents boats, testifies to renting a boat to an unidentified man who took it into the harbor as the cruise ship entered. Through binoculars, he saw the renter and Duane Jefferson in the boat, fishing. Something was pulled up, but remained under the water surface, where it was stabbed by the defendant with a knife, later found in the boat after it was returned. He was paid a large premium for the boat rental. Gilly has been convicted of larceny and perjury. He keeps cash and has no idea how much he has. When court adjourns Mason again asks about the woman and is told, "Just don't ask me questions about women . . . It would be embarrassing to discus any woman with . . . Mason." Drake reports that Irving is back and was in court. He hasn't found the Chaumonts.


Hamilton Burger calls Mae Wallis Jordan. She claims she was in the jewelry office to reclaim some letters which were part of correspondence between her and Duane Jefferson while he was in South Africa. They were joke and gag letters. When he came to Los Angeles she found he was nothing like the letters indicated. She was caught in the office by Jefferson and Irving. As she left with the letters, given her by Jefferson when he got a call that police were on their way there, she was given two diamonds by Irving. She disposed of the letters in the women's restroom, went in to Mason's office, learned they were looking for a typist, took the job, and hid the diamonds in a wad of gum. An officer of the court is sent to get the gum with diamonds. Mason pursues her. Was she willing to commit a crime in order to get the letters back. She was trying to get possession of her own property. Mason pries out of her that she was coached by Hamilton Burger into claiming no need to answer when it might tend to incriminate her. Since she thinks no one would have believed her if she said the diamonds were given her, and thus hid them, why should the jury believe her now? Mason then suggests that she went into the office to plant diamonds, and had to leave before all could be planted. She denies it, but won't say who gave her the key to the office. Various witnesses testify, and Mason cross-examines only the man who examined the bloodstains. They could have been a month old, long before the incident. Max Dutton comes on as an expert in diamond identification, using his own system of classifying them. Ten stones brought to him by the police were identical to some which Munroe Baxter had asked him to classify. When the court adjourns, Irving congratulates Mason, says he was in Mexico, but now he'll help in any way he can.


Drake has found how Marline got away by posing as an incoming passenger, taking a limousine downtown, then back and renting a car, which was driven sixty-two miles round -trip. A friendly reporter has given Drake's operative a tip; they've found Jefferson's girl. Drake's secretary brings the report, and she says Davis is running down the car rental agencies. Nan Ormsby is Jefferson's woman. Alonzo Martin Liggett is a juror who is close to Dan. Nan is married to Dan Ormsby of Nan and Dan, Realtors. Nan is having trouble with her husband, but he doesn't want to settle on her terms. If Burger gets to cross-examine Jefferson, there is one juror who will crucify Mason's client.


An argument ensues on connecting the testimony of Mae Jordan to the murder. The judge reserves his ruling. Max Dutton is recalled, and states one of the diamonds found in the gum was from Baxter. Burger rests. Mason asks to be heard without the jury, so they are temporarily dismissed. Mason argues there is no corpus delicti but, while the judge largely agrees, he quotes several cases against Mason, and lets the case go forward. Mason warns Jefferson that all he can do is prove Mae Jordan lied. When he says he knows where he was the night of the fifth, Jefferson stiffens. Mason calls the cigar stand girl, Alice Riddle, who testifies to seeing Jefferson and Irving going in after the police were there. Mason calls Jefferson, who testifies that from two a m to noon on the sixth he was sleeping until seven when he had breakfast with Walter Irving, then went with him to his office. Burger asks him if he's ever been convicted of a felony. Yes. Under the name of James Kincaid. For posing as an English heir? Objected to and sustained. Irving is called, but he has skipped. Mason rests. Burger calls for rebuttal Agnes Elmer, who testifies that Duane Jefferson wasn't in the apartment the night of the sixth. Mason trips her on the date, since she had to refresh her memory by calling the dentist. Josephine Carter, night switchboard operator at Jefferson's apartment, says she called him every hour from eleven on and got no answer. She sat where she could see anyone come in or go out. Why, when she got no answer the first time, did she keep calling when she could see he hadn't come in? Ruth Dickey, elevator operator, testifies to seeing Jefferson and Irving go down in the elevator before the manager and the stenographer went down to watch those exiting from the elevator! Mason asks if she's ever been out with the defendant socially. Yes. Did the defendant say anything about the cigar store stand woman. Yes, he and his partner had set her up in business and she was their lookout, and they could do something like that for her. Mason finds from her that other men date her and make similar offers.


Burger's summation is short. While awaiting the verdict, Mason is told by Drake that Irving gave his men a chase but got into a helicopter headed for LAX, but diverted to Santa Monica and took a rental car. Now he has a second rental car, not having returned the first. Mason's client is declared guilty of first degree murder. Mason asks for an early hearing on his motion for dismissal. The deputy D A agrees, as Burger is out boasting to the press.


Mason confronts Alice Riddle. He forces him to tell where Irving and Chaumont are. Della, Paul, Perry and Alice head to Santa Ana.


They find Marline Chaumont and her "brother," the latter in a room sedated and guarded by a retired private detective. When confronted by Perry Mason, the guard gives in.


Mason moves "for a new trial of the case on the ground that the trial took place in the absence of the defendant." He asks Duane Jefferson to stand up. Two men stand up, one next Mason, another near the middle of the courtroom. The latter is identified by Mason as Duane Jefferson. Burger insists that the man standing next Mason has been convicted, Mason counters that the D A "introduced evidence consisting of articles belonging to the real Duane Jefferson. Mason explains that the real Jefferson was sent by the South African Gem Importing and Exploration Company with Irving to receive a half million dollars' worth of gems in the mail. Irving had been gambling heavily. Kincaid had bee groomed to replace Jefferson and the body of Jefferson would be found. The couldn't leave well-enough alone, decided to kill Baxter and steal his gems, but the spurious Jefferson didn't have to be so clever. The gems were held back due to a tax situation, so the real Jefferson had to be kept alive. Mae goes to her Prince Charming, he to his Lady Guinevere.


In chambers Mason explains that Gilly lied; he got twenty-five hundred dollars for letting two men take the boat out. Mason says his only client was the real Jefferson, and that the man sitting next him must be tried. Burger must dig up the evidence on his own, but Mason gives him a copy of the sworn statement of Marline, who was in on the whole theft from France on the way to the United States with Irving and soon-to-be-drugged Jefferson. Judge Hartley wants to speak to Jefferson, but "He and the witness Mae Jordan are jabbering away like a house afire."

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Fiftieth Perry Mason Novel, © 1956;

The Case of the Demure Defendant

Drugged girl (Nadine Farr)

Hermann Korbel

Newburn's lab assistant

Dr Logbert P Denair

The boys' parents

Rose Farr

Uncle Mosher Higley

Plain-clothes officer

Wesley Mann Jennings

John Avington Locke

Lieutenant (Paul) Tragg

[Jenning's wife]

Nurse Elsa Clifton

Hamilton Burger

Jail matron

Perry Mason


Reporters at the jail

Della Street

Mrs Felton


Paul Drake

Sue Newburn

Dr Medley Prosner Granby


Jackson Newburn

Judge Ashurst


Cap'n Hugo

Alexander Redfield

[Unidentified client]

Motel manager

Court reporters

Police officers

Higley's day nurse (Marilyn Bodfish)

Court photographers

Four boys, one of them . . .

Higley's night nurse

Court policewoman

. . . Arthur Z Felton

Drake's operative

Daniel J Condon, M D, medical examiner of Maricopa County, Arizona, is the subject of the Foreword and dedication of this novel by Erle Stanley Gardner. "Dr Condon is one of a tight little group of highly trained scientific men who are pioneering a new order of investigative efficiency in matters of sudden death."

Isn't it Lieutenant "Arthur" Tragg? In the TV episodes it is, and elsewhere in the novels. In the Pocketbook list of characters, he is inaccurately identified as "Paul."

Gertie has been mentioned often in these Perry Mason mysteries, but hardly discussed. A good description of her is given at the beginning of Chapter Seven.

The key to solution of the case comes much too late for the reader to reach it before it is sprung on him by Mason who has himself just gotten the clue.


Drugged with sodium pentathol, Nadine Farr is asked questions by Dr Logbert P Denair, who is recording the answers on a tape recorder. She says she killed Uncle Mosher Higley who had ordered her to disappear so that John Avington Locke, whom she loves and who loves her, wouldn't love her. She poisoned Higley with pills which she threw in a lead-weighted bottle into Twomby's Lake. She falls asleep. The Dr instructs Miss (Elsa) Clifton, his nurse, that the conversation was professional, not to be revealed.


Perry Mason is caught by Della Street before he can leave for the afternoon. Dr Denair must see him. The doctor's story is complicated even when he plays the tape. He wants to pass the buck to Mason. The attorney asks if there is any possibility that what the patient said is untrue. If so, to report it to the police might open him to a law suit. If there was a murder and it was cyanide, embalming of Higley will hide that fact, and the speed of Higley's death which was called a coronary thrombosis, indicates cyanide. Mason suggests an investigation, one in which Mason will "try to keep the charges as low as possible" even tho Dr Denair is in the high brackets, since that will retard the speed at which the investigation is made, and with a penniless patient . . . The doctor understands. When Paul Drake is apprised that he can take his time with the investigation, the detective thinks he's dreaming.


Dr Denair arrives with Nadine Farr. The interview does not go well, as Nadine won't admit anything, even after hearing the tape. She cries for the first time in she doesn't remember how long. She leaves, alone. Mason warns Bert to keep the tape safe.


Mason is with a client when Della interrupts to say Denair must talk with him. Dr Denair has phoned to say that his nurse let the cat out of the bag and some officers took the tape recording. The attorney arranges to have Bert and Nadine take a taxi, meet Della and go to the secretary's apartment. He says Gertie and Jackson can run the office. Then he goes to Twomby's Lake, throws a stone to see where a bottle might have landed, then gets four local boys to dive for the poison bottle. Arthur Z Felton, twelve going on thirteen, finds it. Mason tells him to hold on to it, it is evidence.


Hermann Korbel, Mason's chemist, has Arthur and Perry mark the bottle with an etching acid. Mason then takes Arthur home and goes to Della'. There he hears that Higley, who had some hold on Nadine, told her she had forty-eight hours to disappear from the life of John Locke. She decided to commit suicide, got cyanide pills from John, a chemist, put them near Higley's sugar substitute pills. They got accidentally mixed into his chocolate and served to him. Mason tells Denair things are not good, since they found the bottle. He calls Korbel, who says the police have taken everything, all but a bit of a pill. Mason advises Denair to make a round of visits and not be found, and tells Della to take Nadine to a motel.


Mason asks for Lieutenant Tragg and a plain-clothes officer finds him. Tragg brings in Hamilton Burger. Shortly an officer brings in Mrs Felton, who identifies Mason. Arthur then identifies Mason and tells about the finding the bottle and taking it to Korbel. Burger says he's charging Mason as an accessory to the murder of Mosher Higley. Mason notes that Nadine Farr was drugged and in such a condition couldn't testify, so the tape is not evidence. Then Burger says he has tampered with evidence but the attorney points out it was never in his possession. He calls Korbel, learns that it was not cyanide, but sugar substitute in the bottle. Mason leaves.


Gertie is anxious for Mason to see someone waiting for him, Mrs Jackson (Sue) Newburn. Her only purpose at visiting Mason is to convince him that Nadine Farr is playing a game, trying to delay probate of Higley's estate. Higley 's will gave her the big two-story house where he lived and his car, furniture and such. Nadine could live in the house and have her expenses paid until the end of the current school year. There were cash bequests to her husband Jackson, who is in the oil business, to her and to a college. His factotum, Cap'n Hugo, was to be kept on at half-salary for up to four months. Whatever was left, and the remainder of his property, was to go to Nadine. The estate, however, is worth only $75,000, less than the bequests. Nadine wants a delay until Standard Oil can find oil on Higley's Wyoming land, and make the estate worth a lot. Mason calls her bluff, saying she has "a dietary deficiency." She doesn't "eat enough of the foods which generate the milk of human kindness." She flounces out the door.


Mason explains to Della Street about the sugar substitute pills. Della says Nadine stayed on at the beachfront motel for rest. Drake arrives with startling news; the police have found the other pill bottle, and it contained cyanide. The boys saw Mason throw something in the water, and the police think he planted evidence, "a typical Perry Mason trick" as Hamilton Burger would have it. Mason tries to reach Nadine, but the motel manager says she's left with a man. Mason tells Drake to go into high gear. Drake goes to get Cap'n Hugo. Della suggests Nadine might have gotten smart and thrown a second bottle with sugar substitute pills in it into the water, which would have been clever.


Cap'n Hugo's line is "We're square. I don't owe you nothin' and you don't owe me nothin'." That's how he left Higley and it is how he leaves Mason after telling him that Nadine is sweet, the Newburns aren't, there was a day nurse and a night nurse attending Higley, he doesn't know if Higley might have been Nadine's father, and one of the Newburns might have gone into the kitchen the day of Higley's death.


Drake tells Mason that Nadine left with Jackson Newburn, not her boyfriend. He is updated by a phone call' the police are looking for the boyfriend and Nadine, and Locke is having dinner, alone. Perry and Della drive to The Smoked Pheasant where Locke is having dinner. Drake's operative gives Mason a signal when Locke comes out, and the attorney and his secretary walk in step until the man catches up. They befriend him, though he is wary. When told of the new developments, including the sugar substitute pill bottle, then the cyanide pill bottle, he gets worried. His lab assistant had been doing an experiment using cyanide, and knew how many pills went missing, twenty-five. When Locke learned they were missing, he went to Higley's, had Cap'n Hugo bring him the pill bottle, took the twenty-one remaining pills (for missing) and flushed them down a toilet at a service station. He confirms that Cap'n Hugo was washing windows in the dining room and chocolate was melting in the double boiler. Mason warns him that the police will hammer the information out of him.


Mason drives onto the freeway to avoid being found with Locke, who has no idea what Higley held over Nadine. Mason stops to phone Drake, who has located Newburn. When Mason gets back to the car, Della says Locke thinks he knows where he can find Nadine, and has gone to get her and go to Yuma and get married. Mason goes to the Wildcat Exploration and Development Club, where "a small group of plunger who go in for wildcat wells" meet. Newburn lies, over and over, saying he didn't pick up Nadine at the motel until Mason confronts him with his credit card receipt. Newburn says he threw the sugar substitute pill bottle in Twomby's Lake, but then decides he'll get his own lawyer and let Mason take the rap.


Late evening. Mason tells Street that the number of bottles don't add up, nor do the number of pills. There are now two bottles of cyanide pills, the one the police found, and the one Locke got rid of. Mason is worried that the police will now be looking for Locke and will find him if he and Nadine didn't fly. A phone call from Drake gives them the worst; Locke was driving his own car when the police caught them halfway to Yuma.


Drake brings Mason the early editions of the newspapers. While Burger has said nothing, for that would be unethical, Sergeant Holcomb has said it all in Burger's office with Burger "unconsciously nodding his head from time to time. . ." "The boys are really basking in the sunlight of their own self-approval." Drake reports; Twenty-five years ago Rose Farr was the confidential secretary to Higley and Wesley Mann Jennings. Rose and Wesley wanted to get married as soon as he could divorce his wife. They tried to raise cash to buy off Mrs Jennings. Seven and a half months after Jennings shot himself, Nadine was born, and a few months later Rose died. She left a letter, which Nadine opened when she reached eighteen.


Jail. Mason explains to Nadine that she is faced with first-degree murder. She then admits that she was blackmailing Higley. She read between the lines of her mother's letter and blackmailed the man who, eventually realized she was bluffing. He then told her she had to disappear or he'd tell John's family she was a blackmailer and an adventuress. Mason nods to the matron, goes out to the waiting reporters, and says that his "client has been crucified upon a cross of coincidence."


The newspapers were calling it 10 to 1 against Mason. The jury was sworn, Burger makes his opening statement, Mason has none, and Dr Medley Prosner Granby is called to testify. He signed the death certificate. He's changed his cause to cyanide poisoning because of redness of the skin at time of death. Mason goes after him, showing that this became important only when the district attorney asked about it. The body was embalmed, so there is no cyanide remaining, so that must be the cause! He doesn't know how many deaths are due to causes that cannot be found, but all doctors have a blanket reason for when they don't know. Finally, "Despite the fact you couldn't find the cause of death you signed a certificate stating that death was due to a certain cause." "That is generally accepted medical practice." Marilyn Bodfish, the day nurse at Higley's, testifies to smelling an odor of bitter almonds at the time of death. She admits she didn't connect the odor of bitter almonds with cyanide until the police called attention to it. Then she remembered that she smelled such an odor. Dr Denair testifies to giving Nadine Farr a truth serum and making a tape recording of what she said. Mason objects, but the judge says he'll overrule objections until the preliminaries are out of the way. Mason argues the inadmissibility of a confidential communication between doctor and client, of information obtained under drugs and so forth. He and Burger argue California cases by specific citation . Confessions, "no matter how obtained," can be admitted if there is corroborating evidence. Mason challenges Burger, saying he can prove what happened about the two pill bottles. He calls Newburn, and asks him if he didn't throw the sugar substitute bottle in Twomby's Lake. No, says Newburn. Judge Ashurst says "the Court has always found Perry Mason strictly scrupulous and strictly accurate in any statements made to the court." Burger, of course, is inclined otherwise. "Mason, who had been studying the exhibits, turned to Burger. 'Wait a minute. You want to introduce this confession of the defendant on the theory among others that it is corroborated by the discovery of the shotgun shells in the very place where she said she had left them and that those shotgun shells constitute a sufficient corroboration so that the evidence can be received?'" "Exactly" is Burger's reply. Mason says then he'll meet this directly, and withdraws his objection to introduction of the tape. The judge notes that Mason has a personal investment in this, and only allows it when Nadine Farr says that whatever Mason says is all right with her. Mason offers to prove that the defendant never threw the bottle of poison into Twomby's Lake. Exhibit A with the poison contains number seven and a half or eight shot, while Exhibit B with the sugar substitute contains number five chilled shot which came from shotgun shells. Nadine threw a bottle with shotgun shot Burger is baffled as he first says she threw Exhibit A, but that contains bird shot. If she threw a shotgun shot as her taped testimony proves, she threw sugar substitute.


Ballistics expert Alexander Redfield proves Mason right about the shot. He notes, in addition, that the shot in the cyanide pill bottle has ink on it. He explains that steel pens retain in k and in time become corroded. To remove the ink a container holding a large number of shot is used; dipping the pen removes the corroding ink. Mason asks the Court to order that clubs to which Jackson Newburn belongs be immediately checked for such shot in glass containers in writing rooms. Newburn breaks down and admits he got the shot at his Wildcat Club. He was protecting his wife, whom he believed poisoned Higley, though not now since she's denied it to him. He got the cyanide from Locke's laboratory, since Locke was doing some research for him. He planted the bottle to remove suspicion from his wife. He'd learned with her that Higley, to whom his wife was the only heir, had killed Wesley who left his share of the partnership to Rose Farr. Judge Ashhurst orders both Newburns be charged with murder, and the jury will be instructed to return a directed verdict of not guilty.


Sue Newburn calls her husband a "weak-kneed bounder! You welsher! You double-crossing little rat. You'll never get another cent of my money as long as you live" to which Jackson Newburn responded, "Honey, you haven't any money, and the hell of it is you aren't going to have any." Nadine kisses Mason, then again for a reporter that missed the first time. As a policewoman leads Nadine out -- she has not yet been released -- Mason says he expects Burger to do the wrong thing. He'll try to prosecute Sue Newburn for murder, but her husband cannot testify, he's got no confession, he can't prove the corpus delicti, he can't prove Mosher Higley died from cyanide of potassium poisoning, nor can he prove how it was administered.. Finally Mason notes that Newburn said that when his wife slipped out, no one was around, and the chocolate was heated. When Cap'n Hugo gave the bottle to Locke, four pills were missing. Cap'n Hugo was sympathetic to Nadine, undoubtedly knew about Rose far and the death of Higley's partner. Mason suggests that after Burger has paddled his own canoe for a while, Drake could "tactfully place burger under obligation" by passing on a bit of information.

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