Monday, February 7, 2011

The Case of the One-Eyed Witness by Erle Stanley Gardner

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Perry Mason is dining peacefully at the Golden Goose cafe when he receives a mysterious phone call.  The frantic woman on the other end of the line is desperate during their cryptic phone conversation.

The only clues: a newspaper clipping about a blackmail case, and the combination to a safe scrawled on a  scrap of paper.  The case: a tangled web indeed, strung between an eccentric widower with something to hide, a sexy cigarette girl with plenty to cry about, a real-estate broker with his own home on the selling block, a wife, a lover, and too many loose ends.  The common denominator: murder, of course...

I think I've already mentioned that I'm a hug fan of the Perry Mason TV show, so much so that when by chance I found one of the books last year, I snatched it up and loved every minute spent reading it.  I then went on the hunt for any more that I could find, and The Case of the One-Eyed Witness was one of two that I found.

What I love about these books so much is that though they are fairly short in length, this one was only 228 pages, they are packed full of everything you want in a good mystery.  The action starts off fairly low key, building up slowly as the story introduces characters and plot twists.  Just when I thought I was starting to figure out how everyone fits in, the story shifted and a new development made me rethink everything.

From the synopsis you already know this mystery revolves around blackmail and the murders surrounding it.  The blackmail, the reason for it anyway, isn't obvious right away but once it was exposed I was rather shocked by it because it's not something I would ever think about.  The whole plot revolves around a blackmail scheme that victimizes adoptive parents.  The parents are told that their child is part Japanese and unless they want everyone knowing about it, they must pay the blackmail.  Of course I'm comparing it too how things are viewed today, not back then.  Once I got over my thinking on the subject and started looking at it through other eyes, I could understand why things happened the way they did.

The mystery itself it one of the best I've read in a long time.  It has plenty of twists and turns but nothing doesn't ring true.  From the beginning when Perry is trying to figure out who his client is all the way to the end, the story kept me on my toes.  Everything that happens, needed to happen in order for the author to get too the ending he wanted.  It's pure genius and now I'm frantic to get ahold of more of his books.

I did find the full TV episode that was based off of this book, but I couldn't embed it within the post.  Instead I will post the link for anyone who would like to go and watch it.  It doesn't follow the book on every point, but what movie or TV show does,.  It was enjoyable to watch and it made me appreciate the story even more.

Challenges:  A-Z, M&S, FF, VM


Bev Hankins said...

Ryan: Just as a little incentive for reading towards your Vintage Challenge goal...there just happens to be a Perry Mason book among the prizes available. If you meet your challenge in could be yours.

Glad you enjoyed this one. I can't say I'm a big Perry Mason fan...but I know lots of mystery folks who love him.

I'll get this posted to the Progress site.

bermudaonion said...

I remember the show from my childhood and there was no detective as good as Perry Mason. I loved watching him make the witness break down on the witness stand. I'd love to try one of these books one day.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the one Perry Mason I've read, even though you're right, they definitely reflect the time period they were written in.

Staci said...

I love these shorter books...the author works really hard to keep that story going and to satisfy the reader. Sounds great!

Kathleen said...

I've never read any of the books but I sure enjoyed the old TV series with Raymond Burr as Perry Mason. I'll have to give one of the books a try.