The Case of the Glamorous Ghost by Erle Stanley Gardner The Case of the Glamorous Ghost by Erle Stanley Gardner
Series: Perry Mason #47
Published by Fawcett Books on February 29, 2000 (first published 1955)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 232
Format: Paperback
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Though some think they saw a ghost, it was a real, live woman in the (mostly exposed) flesh flitting through Sierra Vista Park. Eleanor Corbin has a taste for trouble - and a talent for getting out of it using the most outrageous means to cover her tracks. now her scandalized half-sister, Olga, fears Eleanor may be using lascivious antics to camouflage more larcenous acts.

Enter Perry Mason - retained by Olga to keep the press at bay while pressing Eleanor for the sordid details of her latest escapade. The glamorous "ghost" claims she can't recall anything except eloping with a smooth-talking gambler . . . and a terrifying car crash. But a hidden cache of precious gems has another story to tell. And so does a murdered corpse that speaks louder than words . . .

Sunday evening I had a bit of a cold and when I’m not quite feeling up to par, I tend to pick up vintage mysteries. The Case of the Glamorous Ghost was the first I saw sitting on my shelf and since it’s been a while since I’ve read a Perry Mason story, I picked it up. My daughter saw it and said something along the lines of “isn’t that a tv show?” She watches that retro channel sometimes. I told her that yes, but the books actually came first. I’m not sure if I ever watched a full episode of the show.

The Glamorous Ghost was what I expected – an interesting court case, some good dialogue, a slightly convoluted mystery. I think part of the reason I like mysteries from that era because they tend not to be overly violent. In general, they’re also short, coming in at under 300 pages and while the characters are fun and well-drawn, they’re not too depressed, they don’t obsess over their own backstories. The Glamorous Ghost is like a break, it’s light short, fun, easy to read. Of course,things look dismal for Perry Mason’s client, but he keeps grinding away and in the end we’re not surprised that she gets off. He may push some of the grayer areas of what is, but he does it with style. The action keeps moving throughout the story; it’s sharp and quick, there’s no place where it slows down too much.

Vintage mysteries can be sexist, racist, homophobic, but none of that really glared here. The women are the stars of the story, aside from Perry Mason himself. I especially liked Della Street, Perry’s secretary. She’s bright and cheery and willing to put up with having to stay in a fancy hotel because he asks her to. They have some great dialogue between them, too.

I need to head to a used book store soon. My supply of older mysteries I haven’t read yet is dwindling.

About Erle Stanley Gardner

Erle Stanley Gardner (July 17, 1889 – March 11, 1970) was an American lawyer and author. Though best known for the Perry Mason series of detective stories, he wrote numerous other novels and shorter pieces, as well as a series of non-fiction books, mostly narrations of his travels through Baja California and other regions in Mexico. The best-selling American author of the twentieth century at the time of his death, he also published under numerous pseudonyms, including A.A. Fair, Kyle Corning, Charles M. Green, Carleton Kendrake, Charles J. Kenny, Les Tillray and Robert Parr.