The Wall (Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1938)

Juliette turns up at Sunset House, the summer residence of Marcia Lloyd, to demand $100,000 from her ex-husband, Marcia’s brother Arthur, but while the Lloyds may still have some of the trapping of wealth, they don’t have $100,000 and couldn’t raise it if they sold everything they owned. It works out, though, when Juliette is found bludgeoned to death in the woods. Then her maid’s body is caught off-shore by a fisherman. Then the local doctor is shot through the heart. The D.A. is up for re-election and is gunning for a conviction, first trying to pin it on Arthur, then on Fred Martin, a golf instructor who it turns out was also once married to Juliette. The sheriff, Russell Shand, is less hasty and doesn’t like all the “odds and ends” that so simple a solution leaves. Juliette, for all her faults, was a fearless woman and she was afraid when she came to Rock Island. Why?

No inscriptions.

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The Case of the Crying Swallow (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1947)

The second short story appended to The Cautious Coquette. If the first was half-baked, this one never saw the oven. Honestly, it barely makes any sense. A wealthy man’s wife drops the insurance policy on her emeralds, they’re stolen, then she disappears. Perry Mason is called, finds she stole the emeralds herself (shocker) to pay off her ex-husband, who it turns out she’s still legally married to. Ex-husband’s other wife finds out and kills him. Wealthy man thinks his wife is the murder and tries to frame someone else. The wife — and this is the least clear bit and I’m assuming a lot here — felt guilty and tried to kill herself while booked into a hotel under an assumed name, but Perry Mason finds her in time to both save her and coach her to tell the right story to the police.

The Case of the Crimson Kiss (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1948)

One of two half-baked short stories appended to The Cautious Coquette. The mistress of a wealthy man finds him dead. There are too many of her things in the apartment and she fears she’ll be suspected, so she poisons her roommate to make it look like she was the mistress and it was a murder-suicide. Except roommate’s aunt arrived earlier than expected and a doctor is called in time. Perry Mason discovers seemingly out of the blue that the man actually had two mistresses, and it was mistress #2 that did him in, and the entire story was pointless.

The Case of the Cautious Coquette (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1949)

A hit-and-run driver leaves a young man with a broken hip. Perry Mason is engaged to discover who it was and he finds two different men ready to confess and settle out of court. Only one of them could have done it — what’s the other’s angle? Mason might have his answer when he finds himself framed for murder and the other man using the hit-and-run as an alibi.

No inscriptions.

The Cup of Fury (Rupert Hughes, 1919)

The adopted daughter of English aristocrats begins to suspect her parents are German spies for the very good reason that they are. The authorities are not without some doubt of Marie Louise herself, but as she’s an American citizen, she’s not arrested. Back in the US, she becomes involved with a ship builder named Davidge. Filled with patriotic fervor, she takes a job at his new shipyard. A German agitator she knew in England appears and threatens to blow up all of Davidge’s work unless she can stop him.

Inscriptions: There’s what’s probably a name and address on the front flyleaf, but the handwriting is perfectly indecipherable. I’m not even going to guess.

The Ebony Bed Murder (Rufus Gillmore, 1932)

An internationally renowned beauty just divorced from her fifth husband is found shot to death in her Fifth Avenue apartment. The police and DA are sure it’s suicide, but amateur detective Griffith Scott thinks otherwise. A ridiculous story that ends with the most impossible reveal imaginable. If the murderer had 10,000 tries, they’d still never successfully pull off the crime as Scott describes it.

Inscriptions: Stamped on the first and last page “Mrs. J.E. Connell”.

When Life was Young at the Old Farm in Maine (C.A. Stephens, 1912)

During the Civil War, all of the Old Squire’s sons are killed. His grandchildren come to the farm to live with him and his wife. The book never actually says where the farm is, but from the description of the land and neighboring areas, there’s no way it isn’t Norway. The author character (I should say, I assume this is autobiographical, but I don’t know how fictionalized it is) is a twelve year old boy from Philadelphia, unused to rural living or farm life, but eager to give it a go. He’s never met any of his five other cousins before but he quickly becomes friends with all of them, except maybe Halstead. The book has no overarching narrative, it’s merely a series of incidents and little adventures of the sort that twelve year olds get into. Rather similar to Farmer Boy but not going into such detail about mundane farm activities.

Inscription: A plate pasted on the inside front cover says it’s from the Weld Public Library.