January 11, 2012

Cocktail Talk: The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife

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

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