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Monday Mystery Review – The Case of the Glamorous Ghost

The Case of the Glamorous Ghost by Erle Stanley Gardner



Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Daughter of a rich father whom she totally buffaloes, Eleanor Corbin goes on rampages in high society and low, causing outrage over her escapades. Then she blames her recurring amnesia and lies low in a private sanitarium.

But as this novel opens, her latest toying with scandal – romping about a lover’s lane in nothing but a filmy frilly thing – has gotten her older half-sister Olga worried about the family reputation. Olga also agonizes that the semi-nude antics are a cover for wanton or even illegal activities. Olga hires lawyer Perry Mason to deal with the press and police while Olga persuades Eleanor to come clean about what she’s been up to. Eleanor claims her darn amnesia is preventing her from recalling anything of the last couple of weeks but a collision with another car.

The murder victim is Eleanor’s fortune-hunter and drifter of a husband – or boyfriend, whatever he was. Eleanor had a gun of the same caliber with which the victim was shot. Getting Eleanor off the hook of Lt. Tragg and DA Burger seems particularly impossible in light of the tight skein of circumstantial evidence wound around her. The brilliant trial sequence is over 100 pages long, one of the longest in the 82-book canon.

As usual in a Mason novel, the murder investigation uncovers many more nefarious goings-on.

There is also vandalism, narks, smuggling, blackmail, narcotics, impersonation, and secret bugging devices. In a strong scene between Perry and his lying client, Perry blunts warns her to be straight with the facts since she’s facing her own execution by cyanide poisoning for first-degree murder.

Gardner treats the subject of sex with more frankness than usual. In the Mason novels, sex hardly comes up as a topic or motive. Still, Perry sends Della to act a decoy in a high class hotel, whose safe has received the “glittering assortment of gems.” Perry asks about her defenses against the predatory males on the prowl at the hotel. She replies:

Adequate, but not impregnable. I didn’t give them the impression that they were storming the Maginot Line. I let them feel that the territory might be invaded, conquered and occupied but definitely not as the result of one skirmish. In other words, I was sophisticated, amused and — I didn’t slam any doors.

Yeah, it’s so Fifties, but still — whoa. While in Gardner’s novels starring Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, it’s assumed that normal healthy adults who aren’t married go off for fun-filled weekends together, spicy talk and easy-going attitudes are rare in a Mason novel. Anyway, this novel, the 46th one and published in 1955, is worth reading for the both fan and novice.




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One Response to “Monday Mystery Review – The Case of the Glamorous Ghost”

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