The ‘Perry Mason’ series by ‘Erle Stanley Gardener’ is a brilliant blend of courtroom drama and a whodunit mystery with elements of law, forensic medicine and science (remarkable in itself since forensic science was still in very nascent stages during the time when the series was published, 1930s to 70s).
The protagonist ‘Perry Mason’ is a defence attorney who loves working on challenging cases and tries to avoid mundane activities as far as possible, much to the chagrin of his devoted secretary ‘Della Street’. Most of his cases involve unusual clients in unusual circumstances, often with a murder somewhere which brings in his expert detective ‘Paul Drake’. Paul Drake is the good-old-fashioned detective in an era where there are no mobiles or any electronic gadgets, yet he delivers every time. The three of them work hard towards protecting their client and unveiling the real culprit while always trying to stay a pace ahead of the police. The stories usually culminate in a courtroom scene which gives the reader a great look at the working of the legal system and may even tempt some to take up law!
The trademark characteristic of the series is the brilliant cross-examination by ‘Perry Mason’ of the witnesses often providing comic relief and sometimes even revealing the true murderer!
The books will keep the reader at edge throughout as the plot twists and unfolds towards a jaw-dropping end. It’s a definite must-read for lovers of mysteries, whodunits or courtroom stories.
Review by Smita Singh (PGP 2012 - 2014)