The Case of the Howling Dog by Erle Stanley Garnder

First, an admission. I never watched the Perry Mason TV series. I know who he was and the general idea of the shows, but this book is my first true meeting with Perry Mason, and I have to say I’m impressed. As a lawyer, he’s all for representing his client, even if his actions are sometimes skirting the edge of legal.

Mason studied Drake stedily for several seconds, and then said, “were you going to tell me how to practice law?”

“I might tell you,” said Paul Drake, “how to keep out of jail. I don’t know law, but I know thin ice when I see it.”

“A lawyer,” said Perry Mason slowly, “who wouldn’t skate on thin ice for a client ain’t worth a damn.” (pg. 99)

The story starts with a client coming to Perry Mason’s office to discuss a will and a complaint about a howling dog, but a seemingly simple case leads to murder and it’s up to Perry Mason to protect his client.

It’s a quick read, mostly dialogue actually, but what descriptions there are well done and to the point. The plot moves quickly and the clues are there, but of course I missed them. Perry Mason is a great character, it’s no wonder he’s become part of American culture, more or less. He’s brilliant, cynical, tenacious. The other characters are fleshed out well too, but he definitely steals the book. I’ll be keeping an eye out in used bookstores for more of the series.

Just a comment though, the portrayal of the Chinese cook and the way the cops interacted with him was outrageously racist. I know the book was written in the 30’s but I was still flabbergasted.

 

First published 1934
Perry Mason #4
216 pages

Challenges: 100+

I purchase my copy and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.