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Two Gardners

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  • RICHARD LIEDHOLM
    Hello, everyone. We ve seem to have gotten away from commenting on Golden Age detective fiction of late, so I thought I d share some thoughts about two
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 18, 2002
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      Hello, everyone. We've seem to have gotten away from commenting on Golden Age detective fiction of late, so I thought I'd share some thoughts about two Gardner's I've recently read.

      THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LOSER is a mid-50s Perry Mason novel, a novel filled with all the charm and plot twists that made Gardner one of the most popular mystery novelists ever. The book opens with Perry being asked by a mysterious young woman who wants him to sit in on a trial of a hit and run accident. This innocent assignment plunges Perry, Della, and Paul Drake into one of the most 'clever frame-ups' of Perry's career. Soon we find a dead man who won't stay dead, a bullet where it should not be, and a charge of unlawful practice being thrown at Perry. Of course, the highlight of the Mason novels is his relationship with Della and the trial sequences, and both are in full force here. Unlike the slightly disappointing, SUNBATHER'S DIARY, the trial in the LUCKY LOSER twists in many different directions, leaving the judge, the jury, and especially Hamilton Burger, with mouths wide open. This a crisply told story, with hard-boiled dialogue and plenty of surprises. Gardner fans will surely enjoy this book a lot.

      THE D.A. DRAWS A CIRCLE is the second Doug Selby book I have read other than the wonderful D.A. CALLS IT MURDER and it comes very near to the excellence shown in the latter. In this novel we are introduced to A.B. Carr, the major antagonist of the Selby series and he is drawn with a sure hand. Carr is the anti-Perry Mason, pulling stunts that might even be beneath Perry. Just how crooked is Carr and how far would he go to protect his client? Who is the nude man that was seen running around Carr's house just before a murdered man is found? Why is the victim shot twice, by different guns, and in the same exact place? And why is Selby so interested in the speedometers of the cars of all the suspects. These questions and more are handled in wonderful Gardner fashion. The story speeds along, throwing clues and surprises at almost every chapter. Gardner was certainly no Agatha Christie, but he could create some dandy clues in his books and CIRCLE has a couple. I should point out that the second to the last chapter of the book is an example of some of Gardner's best writing. He creates an atmosphere of suspense and danger that is above anything I've read from him, except maybe some scenes in the Ed Jenkins stories. He puts Doug Selby in considerable danger and his writing and descriptive powers are in full bloom here. Though not known for picturesque scenes, this chapter will remain in one's mind for a long time. If you couldn't tell, it took me by surprise. First and last, Gardner wrote to entertain, it was his primary agenda. And in CIRCLE he delivers the goods!

      Like John Rhode, Gardner is an author that practically lives forever, there is so much to read of him. I would argue that his pulp fiction is some of his best writing and it still shocks me that most of it remains uncollected. A worthy mystery publisher would be doing us a favor with a new, completely uncollected edition of Phantom Crook and Lester Leith stories. What say you, Doug? Certainly stories of this caliber could be considered lost classics! Just a friendly suggestion from one lone fan, though I would imagine that Sam and Anita would agree. Take care and thanks for staying with me to the end!

      Richard


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • wyattjames
      Oh, I consider Gardner a GAD writer. Some of the Perry Mason s are real classics of genuine detection, even if one wants to quibble about too much legal stuff,
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 18, 2002
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        Oh, I consider Gardner a GAD writer. Some of the Perry Mason's are
        real classics of genuine detection, even if one wants to quibble
        about too much legal stuff, not enough detective work or deduction.
        Gardner was a very clever plotter although he wrote to his formula
        once he decided on PM (i.e., pre-canned stuff inserted in all his
        books by a secretary -- "Put in that bit about Paul Drake sitting
        sideways over the armchair"). I do have to say I got fed up with
        hearing about Della's role/place as "her secretarial desk". Sloppy
        formula pulpish writing. But it was the plots that counted.

        As for off-topic, I hope you don't mean my comment about 1st-person
        narration in PI novels. The same principle applies no matter what the
        genre. Had-I-but-known is the most notorious use of this presentation
        in the mystery genre.

        PS: I love the Lester Leith stories by Gardner, and though they are
        not great, the stories about Lam and Cool.


        --- In GAdetection@y..., "RICHARD LIEDHOLM" <jandrliedholm@m...>
        wrote:
        > Hello, everyone. We've seem to have gotten away from commenting on
        Golden Age detective fiction of late, so I thought I'd share some
        thoughts about two Gardner's I've recently read.
      • luis molina
        ... . A worthy mystery publisher would be doing us a favor with a new, completely uncollected edition of Phantom Crook and Lester Leith stories. What say
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 19, 2002
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          --- RICHARD LIEDHOLM <jandrliedholm@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          . A worthy mystery> publisher would be doing us a
          favor with a new,> completely uncollected edition of
          Phantom Crook and> Lester Leith stories. What say
          you, Doug?
          > Certainly stories of this caliber could be
          > considered lost classics! Just a friendly
          > suggestion from one lone fan, though I would imagine
          > that Sam and Anita would agree. Take care and
          > thanks for staying with me to the end!
          >TRY ASHOP ON AMAZON. THEY HAVE A COLLECTION!
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been
          > removed]
          >
          >


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        • RICHARD LIEDHOLM
          Wyatt- I loved your e-mail about the private point of view. And you make excellent points. I need to ponder it a bit before I respond. I guess I was just
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 19, 2002
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            Wyatt- I loved your e-mail about the private point of view. And you make excellent points. I need to ponder it a bit before I respond.

            I guess I was just lamenting that we gotten a bit away from talking about Queen and Christie and Gardner and Mitchell and Sayers and all the other beloved authors. That's all...

            Richard

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: wyattjames
            Sent: Friday, July 19, 2002 1:04 AM
            To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [GAdetection] Re: Two Gardners

            Oh, I consider Gardner a GAD writer. Some of the Perry Mason's are
            real classics of genuine detection, even if one wants to quibble
            about too much legal stuff, not enough detective work or deduction.
            Gardner was a very clever plotter although he wrote to his formula
            once he decided on PM (i.e., pre-canned stuff inserted in all his
            books by a secretary -- "Put in that bit about Paul Drake sitting
            sideways over the armchair"). I do have to say I got fed up with
            hearing about Della's role/place as "her secretarial desk". Sloppy
            formula pulpish writing. But it was the plots that counted.

            As for off-topic, I hope you don't mean my comment about 1st-person
            narration in PI novels. The same principle applies no matter what the
            genre. Had-I-but-known is the most notorious use of this presentation
            in the mystery genre.

            PS: I love the Lester Leith stories by Gardner, and though they are
            not great, the stories about Lam and Cool.


            --- In GAdetection@y..., "RICHARD LIEDHOLM" <jandrliedholm@m...>
            wrote:
            > Hello, everyone. We've seem to have gotten away from commenting on
            Golden Age detective fiction of late, so I thought I'd share some
            thoughts about two Gardner's I've recently read.




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