Thursday, May 16, 2019

Perry Mason Tackles The Case of the Haunted Husband

When hatcheck girl Stephanie Claire is fired after refusing her boss's advances, she impulsively decides to hitchhike to Los Angles to see if she can break into the movies. She gets a ride to Bakersfield and there is picked up by a man in a powerful sedan. The man's been drinking and when he tries to get friendly, Stephanie she has a drink of whiskey to be a good sport, but otherwise resists his advances. In attempting to paw Stephanie, the man loses control of the car, which crashes. Stephanie is pulled from the wreck with liquor on her breath, only to find that the driver has disappeared, leaving her to take the rap for manslaughter.

The car belongs to a Hollywood mogul who claims that it was stolen, and if anybody ever needed a good lawyer, it's Stephanie. Fortunately, one of her girlfriends persuades Perry Mason to take the case, and it's a very good thing, because like so many of Mason's cases, this one will ultimately become so convoluted that only Perry could figure it out.

Inevitably, of course, a body or two will drop along the way and Perry will be locked in an intricate chess match with his new adversary, Lieutenant Tragg, who replaces the bumbling Sergeant Holcomb as Mason's principal antagonist. Interestingly, Tragg looks nothing like Ray Collins, the actor who played the character in the long-running TV series. In this novel, Tragg is described for one of the very few times: "Tragg was about Mason's age, an inch or two shorter, a pound or two lighter, but there was a certain similarity about the men which would impress a close observer. Tragg's high forehead, wavy black hair, clean-cut features and thoughtful eyes were at sharp variance with the bull-necked beef of Sergeant Holcomb, whose place on the homicide squad he had taken."

This is a fairly typical entry in the series, and a fun read.

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