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Mystery Monday – The Case of the Long-Legged Models

The Case of the Long-Legged Models by Erle Stanley Gardner


Review by Matt B (BuffaloSavage)


Mystery readers who like police procedurals would probably like Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. The reason is that Mason novels, like procedurals, follow a structure that rarely varies and the swiftly unfolding action, like a bag of chips, can be savored to the very end.

The opening chapter finds a client explaining a hornet’s nest to Mason. Della Street, Mason’s secretary and office manager, gives her take on the client and the situation. Perry sics his PI Paul Drake to dig around.

The next couple of chapters detail a scheme on the margins of illegality or an outright criminal enterprise, the murder and the arrest of Mason’s client by the DA Hamilton Burger.

In the court room scene, usually the last third of the novel, Mason gets to the bottom of motives with a cross-examination eliciting a confession or a revelation of the fallibility of witness’ perceptions or wrinkles in time and logic.

Hard-headed and realistic, Gardner does not get into motivations beyond the Big Four of love, hate, greed, and lust. Gardner’s invention holds our interest, however, especially whenever Mason juggles the evidence in order to stall or deceive the police. In this novel, Mason tells Della Street that hocus-pocus is an ethical way to defend a client:

It’s my contention, Della, that an attorney doesn’t have to sit back and wait until a witness gets on the stand and then test his recollection simply by asking him questions. If facts can be shuffled in such a way that it will confuse a witness who isn’t absolutely certain of his story, and if the attorney doesn’t suppress, conceal, or distort any of the actual evidence, I claim the attorney is within his rights.


Freeman Wills Crofts took the “locked room” about as far as it could go. Gardner’s specialty was pairs of guns. In this mystery, a pair of guns is shuffled until we readers come to the point of crying, “Uncle! This is too complicated!” That’s why I have not discussed the plot – to avoid the risk of spoiling the book for readers who just want to be swept along by Gardner’s almost magical power of narrative. Once you start a Perry Mason novel, it is impossible to put down.








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One Response to “Mystery Monday – The Case of the Long-Legged Models”

  1. mary scott says:

    This review brings back memories of my 13 yr old self reading Perry Mason book after Perry Mason book while staying at a rented lake cottage in Maine. Can still smell the musty smell of the old hardcover books!

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