Book Review: The Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner (1933)

Synopsis: When Eva Belter, the wife of a tabloid newspaper financier, walks into Perry Mason's office, his secretary, Della Street, has a bad feeling about the woman. However, Mason accepts Eva's retainer and immediately begins to take steps to protect his new client from a scandalous scene that could result in negative publicity both for her and the politician she may have been having an romantic dinner with. When Eva's husband is later found murdered and Eva claims Mason was the man who shot him, he must decide between remaining loyal to his client or save his own skin.

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Review: I was in the mood to change things up a little bit when I was at the library a couple days ago and realized I had never attempted to read a Perry Mason book before. So, in addition to another Agatha Christie novel, I ended up checking out this book as well.

At first, I wasn't really sure if it would be a book I would enjoy, mostly because, while I have watched an occasional episode of the TV series, I wouldn't consider myself a huge fan. But, once I started reading this book, I admittedly had a hard time putting it down.

Let me start out by saying the literary version of Perry Mason was definitely not what I was expecting. The best way to describe him is he was much more Sam Spade than Raymond Burr.

I found I especially liked the way he would cross lines by bribing police officers and tampering with witnesses (which, for the time period this book takes place, pretty much fits what I probably should expect from the genre). At the same time, he had an undying loyalty to his paying client, even after she tried to frame him for a murder he didn't commit. It's one of those things that made me both respect him while, at the same time, made me wonder if his loyalty would prove to be a fatal flaw.

I also found I liked the ending of this book, which had a few surprise twists and ultimately resulted in Mason figuring out who the real killer was by remembering a couple very subtle clues. It honestly caught me off guard because, at that point, I honestly thought the real killer was already behind bars. Considering I've read plenty of mystery books I couldn't say that about, I was honestly impressed.

Final Opinion: It wasn't quite what I was expecting but, ultimately, that was a good thing because I wound up enjoying the book more than I thought I would. I would highly recommend reading it as a result.

My Grade: A


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