Saturday, April 6, 2013

THE D.A. TAKES A CHANCE by Erle Stanley Gardner








Judging from Erle Stanley Gardner’s The D.A. Takes A Chance, Gardner’s Doug Selby mysteries are Perry Mason mysteries in reverse.

The hero is Madison City D.A. Doug Selby.

When someone kills a playgirl during a party in an upscale mansion and then covers up what happened, Selby and the local sheriff investigate. A local female newspaper reporter helps too. In an understated way, she becomes Selby’s love interest.

Someone else had shot the victim a few weeks earlier. The victim was recovering from that injury. Selby has to nab that shooter too.

Selby’s actual adversary is a lawyer to the rich and famous.

The story comes down to shifting candy boxes, some of which have poison in the candy. There are substituted knives and Selby's clever manipulative analysis of the physical evidence.

Until the last minute, it looks as if the fancy high-class lawyer is going to win the day.

As I said, The D.A. Takes a Chance is Perry Mason in reverse.

I came across a Cardinal Edition of this book in our local used bookstore. The book’s cover has the original price, thirty-five cents.

That seemed like a bargain to me, but when I looked it up, I found out that Cardinal Editions were upscale paperbound versions of previously-printed books. The original paperback would have cost twenty-five cents.

To me, it seemed like the publishers printed this Cardinal Edition in about two-point type. (Maybe not quite that small, but . . . .)

I didn’t buy this book because it was old. I bought it because I used to like to read Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series. I had never read a Doug Selby book.

So I let Erle Stanley Gardner take me back to a book first published not too long after I was born.

I remember the Perry Mason books as being better than this one is, but that may be what Gardner discovered. He may have discovered that people like to root for underdogs. Perry Mason always represents the innocent victim the D.A. is about to railroad.

In any case, it was fun to go back and read Erle Stanley Gardner.

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