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Mystery Monday – The Case of the Phantom Fortune

The Case of the Phantom Fortune by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


This Perry Mason novel from 1964 should not be confused with Phantom Fortune, a novel by Mrs. Braddon, the author of the still worth reading Lady Audley’s Secret.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I’m mildly unimpressed with Gardner’s output of the 1960s. He asks for leaps of faith and suspensions of belief that are beyond me. But notice that I still read them. While doing so, I look on the bright side.

The upside of this one is that Perry Mason re-assumes his hard-boiled manner of the novels from the late 1930s and early 1940s. He tells a blackmailer of the three ways to deal with a blackmailer: pay up, go to the cops, or kill the blackmailer. He lets the blackmailer conclude that Perry will indeed snuff him if he persists in his demands.

Another upside is that the blackmailer ruthlessly exploits the guileless youth. He also has a George Sanders-type charm that is smooth and reptilian. He’s a scary creation, more memorable than Gardner’s usual greedy businessman or desperate lover.

The main appeal of this one is its twists and turns. So I don’t want to give away incidents in a review.  I think any Mason fan will like this one.





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