The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1950)

This is a book that didn’t make a whole lot of sense before the reveal, and really didn’t make much more after it. There’s a gang of baby traffickers who buy illegitimate children and sell them to infertile couples. That’s not the end of the scam, though: they then “coincidentally” get the couple to meet a salesgirl at this one specific nightclub who has a sob story about her baby being stolen, but far worse than that, she has an infinitesimal amount of Japanese blood in her. So the couples are blackmailed to prevent their baby’s 1/128th Japanese heritage being known and ruining their lives forever.

There are a few murders, disappearances, maybe a kidnapping, one of the murdered guys comes back to life, and it’s all just a glorious mess.

No inscriptions.

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The Case of the Long-Legged Models (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1957)

I’m pretty sure I’ve read this once aeons ago. I couldn’t remember anything specific about it, but I was getting feelings of deja vu, especially in the courtroom. Of course, that might just be because Perry Mason started getting super formulaic near the end — I might have just read an identical story with the names changed.

A syndicate is trying to buy out a small motel casino in Las Vegas and build a large resort. Three shareholders have sold but the other two are holding out for a better price. The racketeer trying to buy them out finds himself shot to death. Notable for most of the novel being immaterial to the case, which resolves itself rather suddenly when a witness for the prosecution inexplicably breaks down on the stand and confesses to the crime.

No inscriptions.

The Case of the Silent Partner (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1940)

Harry Peavis, flower mogul, wants to acquire the Faulkners’ small chain of florist shops. The obvious way to accomplish this is through Bob Lawley, the gambling husband of the elder Faulkner sister. At a nightclub in town, the Golden Horn, there’s also an underground casino run by Lynk. Lawley will risk the stocks, Lynk will win, and Peavis will buy them. It all goes to plan until Lynk is shot to death and Lawley disappears.

Too easy, The glue on the package being at least four days old cinches the case at once and leaves only one possible suspect. Even ignoring it, the drugged candies are suspect, given that they were drugged with a sedative rather than a poison, and that the dose ingested was enough to knock you good and out for a few days, but well short of being fatal. It reeks of a manufactured alibi.

No inscriptions.

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 Case of the Counterfeit Eye (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1935)

A man is found dead, clutching a glass eye. His wife had a son from a previous relationship with a man who, as it should happen, only has one eye. Perhaps related are a boy and his unknown accomplice, who had been embezzling thousands of dollars from the dead man and had just gotten caught. The only eye witness to one-eyed murder was the son’s new secret wife, who has skipped town for reasons of her own. Perry Mason, celebrated lawyer, is employed variously by pretty much every major character to see that the innocent go unpunished.

No inscriptions.