The Case of the Amorous Aunt

I had my first sick day of the year, and felt a bit guilty taking it, but I’d been under the weather for several days and really needed to rest. Of course there’s no better cure than a stack of mysteries! I try to read one or two of Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason mysteries every year, so The Case of the Amorous Aunt was up first on the list.

Young Linda Calhoun and her fiancé George Letty come to Mason’s office concerned about Linda’s Aunt Lorraine, a wealthy widow whom they fear has come across the equivalent of a modern-day internet scam. A little while ago she received a letter from a man named Montrose Dewitt in response to a letter to the editor she had written. They struck up a correspondence and now she has driven out here to meet him. Before leaving, she withdrew thirty-five thousand dollars from her savings. Now it appears they are en route to Mexico to elope.

Linda is concerned that Dewitt may resort to violence to get the money, but by the time Mason, Della, and Paul Drake catch up to the duo, Dewitt is the one who is dead and the money is gone. It will take all of Mason’s wits to get Lorraine off of a murder charge, complicated by the fact that the trial will take place in the small town where the corpse was found. He must contend with a local prosecuting lawyer determined to show him up and a witness who has been mysteriously squirreled away.

Trying to summarize a Perry Mason book is always a challenge, as Gardner’s plots have more twists and turns than a dance club. I can barely keep up with them as I’m reading! I haven’t seen the TV show recently, but I’m sure if the episodes were compared to the books a lot would have been cut out to fit into a half hour. Every story feels fresh, despite some of the common elements. One of the unusual aspects of this case is that during the trial Mason is aided by a young lawyer named Duncan Crowder, apparently the son of a friend. He is very bright and stays right with Perry, who is always one step ahead of everyone else. I think it’s the first time I’ve known him to collaborate with another lawyer on a case. Of course, I don’t always agree with everything he does to protect a client, and I’m sure other lawyers don’t either, but Crowder seems to be of the same mind.

I’ve come to really appreciate the setting of the books, especially after reading I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason. As a born-and-bred East Coast girl, Southern California and is landscape are totally foreign to me. Here we can hop between states; there it’s just a jaunt to Mexico. I love reading the description of scenery and can just picture the desert from the plane. If I recall correctly, one of the others I read recently also has Perry excited about a plane ride.

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Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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