Book Critique – Perry Mason in The Case of Too Many Murders
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Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: With times changing, it can be accepted this changed Perry Mason novel. A good mystery filled with twists and turns keeping us on toes, with added explanation, it is still a decent read and leaving us with familiar sense.
The Case of Too Many Murders was a Perry Mason book written by Thomas Chastain based on the characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner first published in 1989. The plot is set a few years after the last book of Perry Mason written by Erle Stanley Gardner in 1973.
Gilbert Adrian shoots his dinner mate at a restaurant and rushes home only to be found murdered a half hour later. His wife, Laurel Adrian, is arrested on suspicion of murder. Perry Mason is tasked to defend her. However everything points to his client looking guilty. Now Mason has build a stronger defense than he ever had in this complicated and twisted mystery plot.
Chastain took off from where Gardner left off, with a new spin, setting in locations current to 1989, I did expect a few changes to be seen. He retired Mason's private eye Paul Drake Sr. and has him working with Paul Drake Jr., Paul's son in the book. He still has Della Street, his trusted confidential secretary.
He also retired Lieutenant Arthur Tragg as well. And introduced us to Lieutenant Ray Dallas whose character is portrayed pretty much close to Tragg's. Not sure what happened to District Attorney Hamilton Burger, but we are introduced to a new D. A. Carter Phillips, who is much more shrewder and hard opponent to Mason than what Burger was.
Contrary to Gardner's writing style, Chastain had more detailed explanation of courtroom procedures and analysis beyond each step Mason takes in the case. I don’t remember seeing that in Gardner books, and still the cases were explained well enough.
It is no Gardner novel, yet a decent attempt by Chastain to give Gardner's characters one last attempt to shine in the changing world, and also introduce to the newer generations the court room dramas and mysteries solved by an investigative attorney.
With times changing, it can be accepted this changed Perry Mason novel. A good mystery filled with twists and turns keeping us on toes, with added explanation, it is still a decent read and leaving us with familiar sense. A great job done by Chastain in the end.
1. Book Trivia & Plot Reveals:
a. Thomas Chastain wrote two Perry Mason books based on original characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner. The second book was Perry Mason in The Case of the Burning Bequest which was published in 1990.
b. Extended team of Mason: Joe Lennart, a private detective; Jenny, Paul Drake's receptionist; Gertie, Mason's receptionist;
c. Characters who testify in the court: John Fallon, manager of the Oaks Restaurant; Councilwoman Janet Coleman; Randolph Adrian, Gil's son from his first wife; Anselmo Costa, a Vegas casino owner; Graham Kendrick, Costa's attorney; Melanie Sandford, dealer at the Casino; Megan Calder, Gil's secretary; Steven Benedict, Gil's bodyguard;
d. Law Enforcement that Mason tangles with: Lieutenant Frank Latham; David Niles, federal prosecutor; Assistant D. A. Al Marcus; Judge Albert Horman; Dr. James Lee, chief medical examiner; Ernest Boyer, ballistics expert; Sergeant Samuel Fisher; Sergeant Mel Anders;
2. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:
a. On Pg. 181, Chastain shows Judge and Jury in the court. But on Pg. 215, he has Judge Moorman admonish the attorneys that there is no jury present to impress so he would like to move along with the case faster.