Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife, Erle Stanley Gardner

The second Perry Mason book published in 1945, The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife marks the 27th appearance of Mason, Della Street, and the crew.

By this point in the series, Erle Stanley Gardner had been dictating his books for years and while they make for entertaining reading they certainly don't stand up to close scrutiny. For example, early in the book Gardner introduces a character who, get this, actually studies law books looking for precedents. Gardner seems to forget all about this character even though he could have been brought in to help wrap the case up. 

Fun to read but eminently forgettable. 

Two-and-one-half pistols out of four.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Death WalksThe Woods, Cyril Hare

Billed on the cover as a "novel of suspense," Cyril Hare's 1954 Death Walks the Woods turns out to actually be a cracking police procedural with a small dollop of amateur sleuthing.

I'm always a sucker for books that touch on post-War II austerity and this book's denouement hinges on England's meat shortage following the war.

A large cast of finely sketched characters combined with a healthy dose of humor combine to make Death Walks the Woods a winner.

Three blunt instruments out of four.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Moving Toyshop, Edmund Crispin

From 1946, The Moving Toyshop features Gervase Fen in his third highly amusing case.

Four out of four daggers.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Murder on Wheels, Stuart Palmer

Originally published in 1932, Murder on Wheels finds Hildegard Withers and Inspector Oscar Piper teamed-up for their second case.

Published during the Great Depression, Murder on Wheels not only mentions the dire economic climate of the country but also does as much as it can to offer value for money. The reader gets an impossible mystery, witty repartee, rodeo performers, and a soap opera sub-plot.

Palmer telegraphs what should have been a big twist so blatantly that even I figured it out a hundred pages before the big reveal.

Fun and fast-paced but a notch or so below Murder on the Blackboard.

Three-and-a-half daggers out of five.