The Case of the Curious Bride
The fifth installment (published in 1934) in the Perry Mason series of about 80 mysteries might more appropriately be titled The Case of the Ringing Bells, perhaps. It offers the standard fare one might expect from Erle Stanley Gardner and his no. 1 favourite protagonist among the many he created.
You can feel you're reading a skillful writer here; the narration is brisk, dialogues are interesting; Gardner has that trick of moving the dialogue along by means of constant interposing questions of the type "What next?" and "What happened then?", etc. Dialogues are moderately witty; the action moderately suspenseful. Nothing much is happening, but Gardner makes sure something interesting occurs in every chapter to motivate the reader in finishing the book.
The novel demonstrates Gardner's famous knack: that of writing full-length novels with the substance and feel of a short-story, without offending the reader's intelligence. Gardner is, simply, a natural story-teller; words, sentences, and paragraphs flow so easily in the narration.
Perry Mason is affable, and at the same time hard-boiled, if need be; the atmosphere of the 1930s apartment buildings is charming – some of the buildings are criticized as "old-fashioned" by the time the action takes place.
The plot is well-written, as usual with Mason, and the resolution is surprising and perhaps even morally uplifting.
All in all, a skillfully written book, but there are more exciting Perry Mason mysteries out there, and if what you're looking for is supreme literary quality combined with detective fiction, you won't find it here. Rated D+ on a scale of A+ to F-.
--Faterson 19:00, 26 February 2007 (CET)
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