Monday, May 15, 2017

Perry Mason May Have to Cross-Examine a Parrot in this Complex Case

The fourteenth Perry Mason novel (published in 1939) opens when a new client comes to Perry's office. The client's father has been murdered, and the client fears that his father's new wife may attempt to cheat him out of his inheritance. (For some reason, there seem to be a number of Perry Mason books in which an older man has remarried to a woman who seemed very loving and terrific before the marriage but who then turns out to be a greedy, unpleasant shrew, usually with greedy, grasping, unpleasant children, immediately after the vows. Then, when the man attempts to get out of the marriage, bad things always happen.)

In this case, the father has arranged to get a divorce. He's written a new will, disinheriting the shrewish wife, but the son fears that the wife will destroy the will, attempting to leave in force an earlier will that gave most everything to her. (A curious reader wonders why, having decided to divorce and disinherit the wife, the guy would leave the new will with her rather than, say, leaving it safely with his son or his lawyer. But in that event, of course, there would be no case, and Perry would be left to sit in his office playing Tetris or whatever.)

Perry agrees to get on the job but, of course, within a few pages it turns out that this will be much more than a simple contest over a will. Before you know it, Perry has a client charged with murder and the most critical witness turns out to be a Parrot. As always in these books, there are a lot of surprising twists and turns and Perry has to skate along the thin edge of the law. (One of the things that's most fun about these earlier books is that legal ethics were much less strict.)

All in all, it's a fun read that will appeal to fans of the series and to other readers who occasionally enjoy a trip down memory lane to the earlier days of crime fiction.

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