Friday, June 13, 2014

THE CASE OF THE BAITED HOOK by Erle Stanley Gardner


To me, one huge baited hook in Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Baited Hook was the cover.

This was the least sexy book I've ever read to have such a sexy cover. Don't get me wrong. I didn't pick it up because of its cover. I read about it in one of Patti Abbott's pattinase “forgotten books" blog listings. Later, I found this picture of an early cover.

Perry Mason falls for a scam. An apparently wealthy architect comes into his office. He offers Mason the chance to represent a mysterious masked woman who is with him in the office. He gives Mason two thousand dollars to start and a part of a ten thousand dollar bill. The woman has the other part of the bill.

Mason is to represent the woman if she needs it. He is to agree to check all his incoming clients with the wealthy architect to be sure those clients don't have a conflict with this woman's legal needs. If she has a need, she will identify herself and give him the other part of the bill.

And Mason falls for this.

I thought he was supposed to be a smart lawyer.

The case involves the swindle of a not-for-profit corporation, a scheme to foist off high-priced penny stock on the not-for-profit. It also involves the death early on of one of the principals involved and several other plot lines.

Della Street and Paul Drake are major characters as always.

The book has esoteric lawyer talk, the kind of intricate parsing of complex clues Mason usually does, and a lot more. Mason ends up being framed. Instead of the usual court scene in the second half of the book, Mason takes on Hamilton Burger in Burger's office.

Years ago, I read a few Perry Mason books. I always liked them, but I prefer fewer esoteric clues and more character. I liked other books better.

When I saw the review of this book and found the book (along with all the other Mason books) on Kindle, I decided to try another Perry Mason.

I had the same response to Mason as before. The book was clever and interesting. I didn't stop reading it before the end. I might read other Perry Masons sometime, but not many. I prefer the old TV shows. When I get to my true dotage, I'll get my Perry Mason fix on ME TV.


George said...

When I was a teenager, I binged on Perry Mason books (they were everywhere back then). Today, I'm more like you: I'll read a Perry Mason occasionally, but I'll watch the old TV show whenever it's on.

Richard said...

Joe, this is one of the Mason books I haven't gotten to yet, but I will eventually as I plan to read them all before I go to the big bookstore in the sky.

I like the television episodes too, and have them on DVD. I watch one or two every now and then, and enjoy them, perhaps as much for the period cars, buildings and settings as the plots. A lot of fun.

Joe Barone said...

George and Richard, I see Gardner as super intelligent. I can visualize him sitting around thinking about how to create these complicated plots with clues negating other clues. Also I see the set-up as inspired. Mason as the brilliant underdog lawyer everybody cheers for. And of course, he confidently saves the day.

So I have a lot of good to say about the books. I just most often prefer another kind of writing.

Kelly Robinson said...

Compared to some of the other cover art of the time, that one's downright chaste. Nice review!

Joe Barone said...

Kelly, Thanks. I read a lot of paperback books in my time. Sometimes it amused me how the covers were huge come-ons and when you actually read the books they weren't as racy at all.