This one has some truly flashy elements to the case, just as it first presents itself. It puts me in mind of some of the short stories of Sherlock Holmes, where the master becomes engaged because of the unusual presentation of the problem. Like some of the more ordinary Holmes stories, this one has no good moments of byplay between Perry and Paul Drake, nor between Perry and Della, but pale echoes of the way they can sometimes spark. The problem itself has a flaw, from a plot structure point of view. Perry states it himself fairly early in the investigation. There's only one person who could have known where the corpse would be. Remember the Ngaio Marsh story of the fellow killed by a dart in a pub darts game? Same thing. In the end, there's only one person who could have known that the dart would strike that person. It renders the rest of the side issues rather moot. Gardner is mostly interested in constructing an ideal prosecutor, which he does in this book, in some detail, giving us the only rich dialogue outside the courtroom as we get to know this prosecutor. Not my favorite Perry Mason. Not the emptiest, though: that distinction goes to the Case of the Stuttering Bishop, where the very title gives you the solution before you start.
I've always been a fan of the Perry Mason stories. This one is, for me, perhaps more readable than others for all of the things that are stacked against the hero, Perry Mason:
Two women come to consult him; he takes one as a client. Later on, the other woman decides that the first woman (Perry's client) is guilty, and goes to the police with everything that was said between the lawyer and his client.
They call him up to tell him a man is dead; Perry Mason begins to go through the man's office when it turns out that the man wasn't dead.
This story takes place in another town, so there is no Hamilton Burger this time, but the DA in the other town is very, very shrewd.
If you like Perry Mason stories, I recommend this one. If you like the Perry Mason stories, and you've not read this one, get it - you're in for a treat.
I have read the follow Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason) novels:
* The Case of the One-Eyed Witness * The Case of the Reluctant Model * The Case of the Perjured Parrot * The Case of the Substitute Face * The Case of the Stuttering Bishop * The Case of the Lucky Legs * The Case of the Caretaker's Cat * The Case of the Lucky Loser * The Case of the Curious Drive * The Case of the Velvet Claws * The Case of the Silent Partner * The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe * The Case of the Postponed Murder * The Case of the Howling Dog * The Case of the Vagabond Virgin
Of all these novels (all of which I read while running), The Case of the Runaway Corpse has the best dialogue Gardner has written. I am referring to the dialogue between DA Halder and Perry Mason. It is an absolute hoot. This skillfully writing and mastery of worksmithing is the reason Gardner remains popular today.
I love the old Perry Mason series with Raymond Burr, so I wanted to read one of the novels. I chose this one because I have seen the series episode that was based on it. Although I generally prefer books to the movies or shows that are based on them, I was worried that I might not like the novel if the characters were too different from the TV series. Not to worry; the characters I loved in the TV series were very true to their counterparts in the novel. I enjoyed the greater depth of characterization from the novel and still having the familiar feel of the characters from the show. The story was interesting from the beginning to the wrap up at the end, and even though some of the chapters were rather lengthy, I never got the urge to put it down from boredom. Some modern readers may be put off by the out-dated references to long-distance phone calls and telegrams, but old timers like myself can easily take them in stride. I bought the Kindle edition, and even though I did spot several typos, they weren't rampant like they are on some other Kindle books I have purchased.
In short, fans of the TV series will probably really enjoy this book. I will definitely read others in the series.
This is the first of Gardner's books that I have read. I will be reading more. It is a well woven story with good characterisation. I was beginning to wonder at one stage when Mason was going on about a legal point that this is all very technical, and then realised what it was - he was bamboozling the hearer. Unlike some murder mysteries types, where the final revelation of the guilty party is based on overly obscure points, this is more realistic. (No I didn't guess it.) I think this adds to the believability of the whole book. The story is not dated, and it won't disappoint those who remember the old TV series.
Another wild and crazy case for Perry Mason and his friends to solve. And the so-called victim had it coming, which I was glad to see. I remember the TV episode of this one, and the book definitely had a few more twists and turns to it. Definitely a good one worth the read.