Friday, March 22, 2019

Case of the Negligent Nymph by Erle Stanley Gardner (1949)

About the author: See this Wikipedia article.

Erle Stanley Gardner

Major characters:
  • George Alder, wealthy mansion owner
  • Corinne Lansing, George Alder's half sister
  • Dorley Alder, George Alder's uncle 
  • Minerva Danby, friend of Corinne, died while on Alder's yacht prior to story
  • Dorothy Fenner, the negligent nymph who stole the bottle and letter, Corinne's cousin 
  • Carmen Monterrey, Corinne's maid
  • Pete Cadiz, a beachcomber 
Locale: California coast

Synopsis: Perry Mason is about to engage in legal proceedings on a property line issue against wealthy George Alder. He decides to look over Alder's island estate from a canoe at night. While doing so, he observes a woman (Dorothy Fenner - the negligent nymph) enter the estate, and run out and into the water, chased by a guard dog. Mason pulls her into the canoe and takes her back to her small yacht riding at anchor.

She had taken a bottle from the Alder mansion, containing a manuscript written by Minerva Danby, who had drowned while on Alder's yacht. The manuscript accuses Alder of plotting to murder her, and Alder wants the manuscript back.

Alder convinces Fenner to visit him to discuss an agreement - her selling the manuscript back to him. Then he is found shot, and Fenner is the prime suspect - and Mason's client.

Review: At first this appears to be another Perry Mason controlling-stock issue, but that line of the plot disappears quickly. The story moves right along, with the usual incidents of Mason eyeing the ladies, even taking a kiss from a client. The courtroom scenes are the highlight, with Mason getting the prosecution all twisted up and exasperated as usual. Loose end: Is Corinne Lansing dead of alive? I could not find any definitive result on her.

No Hamilton Burger or Lieutenant Tragg in this one, too bad.

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