Monday, November 23, 2015

Erle Stanley Gardner, TCOT Deadly Toy

Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Deadly Toy (1959)
Available as an ebook

I ran across a mention of this book earlier today, and realized that there was a Perry Mason book I had not read.  So I acquired it.  Fortunately, most of the Mason books are relatively short, and quick reads; this one took me maybe 2.5 hours.

A young woman shows up on a Saturday, hoping to find Mason in his office.  She has flown down from San Francisco to see the ex-wife of her ex-fiancé, but has decided she needs legal help.  (Her ex-fiancé is, she believes, behind a series of threatening notes, printed on a child's printing press (which, as it turns out, weighs 85 pounds, so it's not your normal child's toy) that have been mailed from LA.  Furthermore, her ex-fiancé has assaulted the man she started seeing.

And here's a surprise (or two)--her ex-fiancé turns up in LA, found dead in a country club parking lot.  And her new beau shows up in LA (he disappears from the book right after he appears, which I thought was odd.)

Meanwhile, her ex​'s ex-wife is trying to hold onto custody of her son.  The son, who is 7, has developed a habit of playing with his step-father's .22 Cold Woodsman piston (although, we hope, only when it is unloaded).

Mason's client is, of course, arrested, and Mason, of course, reveals the real culprit. 

Reading the brief bio of Gardner at the end of the book, I discovered that his life (1889-1970) and his Perry Mason series (1933-1973--2 of these were posthumous) coincided fairly closely with the life (1886-1975) and Nero Wolfe series (1934-1974) of Rex Stout.  In my opinion, there's no question who was the better author (that'd be Stout) and who was the more interesting character (Archie Goodwin, actually, but also Wolfe).  But the parallel time line just struck me as interesting.


  1. That was a quick turnaround from noticing a book to reading it completely!

  2. Short book, and easy to read. Also, I wasn't in the middle of anything else.