Perry Mason makes his first appearance in The Case of the Velvet Claws. The book begins with a Mrs. Eva Griffin approaching Mason for a favor. She’d been out on a date the night before with a man who wasn’t her husband. The police showed up to investigate a robbery at the hotel where said date occurred, and they took statements from witnesses. Eva Griffin’s date was a powerful local politician, powerful enough to get the police to exclude his name from the witness list.
This is the first I’ve read from Gardner, and it’s a good one. It’s more of a straight-up detective mystery than a noir, and it doesn’t attempt the reach the depth or weight you find in the best crime and noir novels, but it is entertaining. Bertha Cool is the unapologetically unorthodox head of the B. Cool detective agency. Donald Lam, “the runt,” is her new, wet-behind-the-ears junior detective. He’s got plenty of brains and more than enough street smarts to do his job, but he has a weakness for women in trouble, or perhaps for any woman who will give him the time of day.
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