Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quick review of "The Case of the Curious Bride" by Erle Stanley Gardner (1934)

I've often watched the Perry Mason television show, but this is only the second Perry Mason novel I've read. Both the character and the story structure of the two are quite different. The television show is a traditional whodunit. The emphasis is on finding out who committed the murder (always a murder) and seeing that justice is done. In the couple of books I've read, the emphasis is on Perry getting his client off, and he doesn't seem particularly interested in who committed the murder (always a murder.) In both books I've read, though we find out who committed the murder, it's unclear whether the murderer will ever face justice from the legal system. Even more different is the way the character of Mason in presented. As played by the large, imposing, yet also somehow soft Raymond Burr, Mason is rather tenderhearted toward many of his clients. He is quite obviously not a man of violence, preferring to depend on his wit and the law. He is wily, but upright and honest. Mason in the books...Is different than that. For instance, this is Mason in the book confronting police detectives: "Mason's jaw jutted forward. His eyes became steely. "Pipe down, gumshoe," he said, "or I'll button your lip with a set of knuckles."" Can't imagine Burr saying that. He also is much less interested in fair play than the TV character. In this book, he tampers with evidence, barely staying within the law. But hey, he gets paid and paid well at the end of the book, so he's got that going for him. (Trigger warning, if bothered by sexism or racism, these 1930's pulps might not be for you.)

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