Friday, 11 March 2016

the case of the borrowed brunette

On Monday 7th I finished The Case of the Borrowed Brunette, a Perry Mason novel by Erle Stanley Gardner.

I see when I blogged about reading The Case of the Lame Canary I didn't think I'd read any Perry Mason before, but that when looking at a list of them the Borrowed Brunette rang a bell; I suspect it rang a bell because I'd bought it, and bought it for Bethan, because I hadn't written my name in it (and ones I've bought for Bethan are the only ones I tend not to write my name in).

There's a good review of it here (which looks like an interesting blog) - good, in that I largely agree with it on both the pros and cons. I preferred it to the Lame Canary, but it was just 'not bad'. It was pretty convoluted, and a bit stretching of credulity, not just in plot but in Perry Mason's behaviour and what he got away with (although within that there are interesting insights into criminal law and the courts, the author being a lawyer himself). The perfect, devoted secretary is underwritten and notably old-fashioned (first published 1951). The dialogue in particular is very 'written', with people continually telling each other things they know already, overelaborately explaining what they're talking about for the benefit of the reader; all dialogue in plays and novels is unrealistic to an extent, but this was particularly so.

Again, I won't be seeking out any more Erle Stanley Gardners.

First line: At this hour, Adams Street was a pedestrians' no man's land.
Last line: 'At that, next time I run across anyone who is borrowing a brunette, I'm going to let him keep her!'

The cover. The warm green of the cover hasn't come out, though I tried a couple of times. That's phones for you. It's the classic Penguin Crimes cover, though they don't always have either a tag line (a way to get Perry Mason's name on the cover?), and certainly don't always have a 'complete and unabridged' line, both of which reduce the cleanness of the design. I don't know if they always have a price on the cover, though - possibly? I wonder how the cover-price practice varied across time and publisher. You don't tend to see prices on any covers now, although sometimes they might be on stickers (more likely in supermarkets than bookshops, I'd guess, though they latter would have '3 for 2' or 'buy one get one half-price' kind of offer stickers).