September 28, 2021
Recently (not today recent, but just weeks ago), I had a few Cocktail Talks from the A.A. Fair book Owls Don’t Blink (you can read Part I and Part II as desired). A.A. Fair of course being an alias of Erle Stanley Gardner, who is/was/will be mostly famous for his series of books featuring dashing and mystery-solving attorney Perry Mason. I’ve written before here on Spiked Punch (check out past Erle Cocktail Talks for evidence) how I generally like the Perry Mason television show better than the books, in a twist, and how I also tend to like the A.A. Fair books better. Hey, I’m strange! I don’t dislike the Perry Mason books, but sometimes our loveable lawyer is a little too, oh, cool? I dunno. I will say this: the Perry Mason books are worth reading, A: to make up your own mind, B: cause some (like The Case of the Cautious Coquette) are dandy reads, C: they all tend to move fast and frolicsome, and D: the versions in the 40s, 50s, maybe even early 60s usually have outstanding covers. This one, featuring our red-headed heroine holding a smoking gun and wearing a smoking pantsuit, is no different. The tale itself features a mysterious letter, woman, murder, gun, car wreck, and more. And an un-mysterious drink for Perry.
He arose as Mason entered the room, said, “Mr. Mason, the lawyer?”
The man extended his hand. “I’m Stephen Argyle. I’ve very glad to meet you. I have heard about you. Won’t you sit down and join me in a drink?”
He was thin to the point of being bony, with long fingers, high cheekbones, bleached out eyes, think hair which was well shot with gray. He wore glasses which clamped on the bridge of a high nose with a black ribbon hanging from the side, giving him an expression of austere power.
Mason said, “Thank you. I’ll have a Scotch and soda, please.”
Argyle nodded to the butler, who walked over to the portable bar, dropped ice cubes in a glass, mixed a Scotch and soda, and wordlessly handed it to Mason.
–Erle Stanley Gardener, The Case of the Cautious Coquette
December 17, 2013
My wishy-washy-ness with Erle Stanley Gardner, and his version of Perry Mason, as well as my love of Perry Mason-as-played-by-Raymond-Burr, have been detailed on this blog in the past. So, I won’t weigh into them here (no need for me to get haunted anyway). But I still can’t stay away from his books when I find them in their pocket-sized printings, cause the covers tend to be so darn swell. And the insides certainly aren’t bad, and usually contain nuggets of joy like the below.
He went to the room, pulled the curtains, ordered four bottles of ginger ale, with plenty of ice, and got a quart of whiskey from the bell boy. Then he sat in the overstuffed chair, with his feet on the bed, and smoked.
— The Case of the Velvet Claws, Erle Stanley Gardner
November 20, 2012
As I mentioned in some past posts, I’m not a giant fan of the Perry Mason books written by Erle Stanley Gardner. I don’t loath them or anything, and I have a decent number (well, the covers are so darn fine, and the books aren’t so darn bad). However, I do positively dig the Perry Mason television show starring the commanding-yet-convivial Raymond Burr. I may have mentioned this in one of those past posts, actually. Shot in beauteous black and white, the Pery Mason series in my mind is one of the highpoints of the whole teevee medium, thanks in large part to Mr. Burr but also thanks in part to the regular supporting cast: the long-suffering DA Hamilton Berger, the jolly Sergant Trask, the suave detective Paul Drake, and the lovely, supportive, and cuddly Della Street as Perry’s confidential secretary (played by William Talman, Ray Collins, William Hopper, and Barbara Hale respectively). All gems. Anywho, this is a bit of pre-amble to the following quote, which is a highlight from an episode called The Case of the Fancy Figures, which is about a cad who gets murdered. It’s truly one of my fav quotes about bars ever, and I like it even better since it comes from one of my favorites shows:
If you have to wait, there’s nothing like a bar. After a few drinks, it becomes a fairyland. People are so kind and considerate.
— The Case of the Fancy Figures
January 11, 2012
As I mentioned once in a Cocktail Talk post over two years ago (amazing that I’ve been writing this blog for so long, now that I mention it), I’m not a huge Perry Mason book fan, meaning those (and there were tons) written by Erle Stanley Gardner. I am a gigantic Perry Mason television show fan, however. Which points I suppose to how wacky I am, or some such. But the books just seem a tad too smart about themselves, while the show seems just the right pitch of genius and atmosphere. However, I do still pick up the occasional Perry Mason book, mostly because many of the original pocket book covers are joys to behold. Take the one pictured here–lovely lady, in negligee, with smoking pistol, on a boat. Gawd, that’s wonderful. And this book I liked more than others, too, as it seemed a little less in hand at times to me, and had the full contingent of Perry Mason favorites: dashing detective Paul Drake, saucy and swell secretary Della Street, and cuddly losers (at least when facing Perry) Lieutenant Tragg and DA Hamilton Burger. And, the following little gem of an exchange:
Drake said, “Here’s a car with three of my operatives now. What do we do first?”
“Put them out the way I said, so they can watch the apartment, the garage, and the windows.”
“Okay, then what?”
“Then,” Della Street interposed with firm determination,“we get a cup of hot coffee and it there’s any brandy in the car, we spike it with brandy. My chattering teeth are chipping off.”
“That,” Mason agreed, “is an idea.”
–Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife