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The Case of the Terrified Typist

(Perry Mason #49)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  962 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Perry hires a temporary typist who flees in a panic, leaving behind a pair of diamonds hidden in a wad of chewing gum. Down the hall from Perry's office, a co-owner of a gem importing company has been charged in a smuggling scheme, and with murdering his accomplice. Mason agrees to defend the accused man, who would rather die than cooperate. And he just might--unless Mason ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 12th 1987 by Ballantine (first published January 1st 1956)
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Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Modern word processing software with spellcheckers killed typewriters dead - and for a good reason too.
Another casualties of this were typists. Good and fast typists made decent money and were hard to find.
This is exactly what Perry Mason learned when he needed to submit a huge legal document
before the deadline at the time when one of his regular typists (not Della Street) was sick. The agency promised to send him one the moment somebody becomes available and as luck would have it a woman cam
Bailey Marissa
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020, adult
This was fun as it had more anticipation than the tv adaption.

Recommended 14+ for language, theft, and mentions of an affair.
Alan Tomkins-Raney
Written in 1955, this was one of the better Perry Mason novels in the series. Pretty clever, and very fast paced.
Sep 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More and more I find myself reading vintage murder mysteries. I'm tired of magical cats, dogs who can outsmart their owners, women who've been divorced or lost a spouse or were jilted and having to move back to their hometown, baking or crafty sleuths, witches that are sleuths or houses that are haunted and have helpful ghosts or nasty murdering ghosts. I've been reading a lot of Charlotte McLeod(Peter Shandy Mysteries, etc), Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), and Perry Mason or I mean Erle Stanley Gardner ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, legal
#49 in the Perry Mason series. The terrified typist of the title was a young woman mistaken by Mason's staff for a typist from a temp agency. Her additions to the story are not fully developed and her major contribution may be in the alliterative title. This is no better than average for the series but there is a unique way in which Perry escapes a guilty murder verdict for his client.

Perry Mason series - Mason is in a quandary: one of his office typists is out sick and the other is too overwhel
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading Gardner's Perry Mason books off and on for many years. Those who are used to really fine mystery writers may find Gardner's writing style a bit stiff and mechanical. Nonetheless, I still love the general setting: the characters of Perry, Della, Paul, Lt. Tragg, and Hamilton Berger. That, and the ingenious plots, are why I read Perry Mason.

On the whole, the ones written by 1950 are the best. This one was written in 1956, and is very good in some ways, less so in others. It is we
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on page 26 when I realized that I remembered the ending of this one!.... and that it hadn't been one of the better books in the series. I decided to keep reading and found it entertaining anyhow. Gardner sets up his gimmick nicely by starting his story with a little situation where Perry has Della call "the agency" to send over a typist and they make some unwarranted assumptions about the woman who shows up -- who turns out to be, among other things, a terrific typist. ...more
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have seen all the Perry Mason television episodes many times, and this is a favorite so I decided to read the original novel for comparison. Frankly, I prefer the television version. They are somewhat alike in plot, and some of the characters are the same, but Gardner's writing acts almost like a law lesson discussing technicalities and terms. Maybe it was thought necessary when it came out in 1956. It's a confusing story just as the TV version is, but the television mystery moves along at a b ...more
John R. Goyer
An enjoyable tale with old friends. It's interesting to note the evolution of characters from the novels to the tv series through the years. Hamilton Burger in particular appears simple and one dimensional in this tale, while in the later years of the series his character has significant depth and is a worthy colleague to Perry in addition to being the opposition. Nice twist at the end, and as always, the courtroom scenes are delicious. ...more
well, shit, was NOT expecting that ending
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Early on in this book, I thought it didn't seem very interesting...maybe it was too dated. But then I got into it and bam! Erle Stanley Gardner really knew how to write a good legal mystery. It still will seem dated...well it was written several decades ago. But it's a good quick read and does hold your interest well. It's not a Grisham thriller. But both writers have done great work making legal mysteries or legal thrillers fun to read.
This one has made me interested in starting up the whole Pe
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Twitter a very distinguished writer asked me HOW I could read these books and I think I understand why. But ultimately that answer is "easy." As basic as the writing it, the milieu, which is absolutely tied up with a notion of American exceptionalism, is fascinating, the plots are knotty, the legalese is something new for me and it's all pretty engaging in a superficial way, which is sometimes what you want. ...more
Asra Ghouse
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
There were two reasons why I badly wanted to read this book. Back in 2001, I was on this mission to complete the entire collection of Perry Mason series. This happened to be the only book that I couldn't get my hands on. Another reason being the result of a quiz I had taken on Perry Mason which said this case was... er... the most difficult of Perry's caes. (view spoiler)

Finally, in 2003 I got my hands on this book. To be honest, I wasn'
Daniel Ruwe
This is a decent pageturner, but the plot really makes no sense. Gardner definitely wrote better books.
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Read for the #1956Club, off and on over the course of a week or so. Plucked from my husband’s collection to see if Earl Stanley Gardner’s books are as dire and sexist as I remember from the only one I ever read, The Case of the Fan-Dancer's Horse. On that count, I have to say it wasn’t too bad, though all the young, attractive women are described as ‘demure’ (as was Mason’s secretary Della Street), or at least, when they’re in court, whatever their behaviour beforehand. Nevertheless, all the you ...more
Kay Hudson
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, e-books
I read all the Perry Mason novels when I was a kid, as well as others by Erle Stanley Gardner (he wrote at least one other series as A.A. Fair), but it’s been a few decades. When HBO’s weird prequel show apparently raised interest in old (or should I say young) Perry, I downloaded The Case of the Terrified Typist (more or less at random, when it was on sale). No doubt I read it when it was new (circa 1955, so perhaps a few years later), and I’ve seen the Raymond Burr TV show version fairly recen ...more
Kate Picher
Although I figured out how this story would end about half way through, kept reading for the Erle Stanley Gardner gems.

"Suppose you slip down to the powder room, Della, and see if perhaps our demon typist has a little flask in her purse and is now engaged in chewing on a clove."
"Also," Della Street said. "I'll take a whiff to see if I smell marijuana smoke."

Mason and Paul Drake speak of women so derogatively, it's a wonder Della isn't posting to the #metoo hashtag.

At any rate, the case took a wi
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't think this was a particularly strong Perry novel. The twist at the end was out of this world, sure, but the novel as a whole lacked oomph. Burger's case was weak all along. Perry did very little legal maneuvering, and hardly any extracurricular detective work outside the courtroom. The victim and defendant were both uninteresting. Just an odd novel all around. I guess ESG had a good idea for a great twist but didn't bother with thinking over the rest of the novel too intently! ...more
Kieran McAndrew
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A case of mistaken identity leads Perry Mason into a cunning jewel theft from an office down the hall from his own. Hired to represent a murderer, Duane Jefferson, Mason must use all his detective skills to solve the crime, before an innocent man is convicted.

Gardner weaves an intricate mystery, which leaves readers both dumbfounded and impressed in equal measure at the resources of the great Perry Mason.
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Then came the pay-off. As the ship was off Gibraltar a helicopter hovered overhead. A man descended a rope ladder, dangled precariously from the last rung. The helicopter hovered over the deck of the ship, and Munroe Baxter dropped to the deck by the swimming pool, where Yvonne Manco was disporting herself in the sunlight in a seductive bathing suit."
"Romantic," Mason said.
"And opportune," Irving said dryly.
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading a Perry Mason mystery is like taking a step into a “twilight zone” of time that you can’t believe actually existed - it did; I lived through it. We are treated in this book to the time of typewriters. I’m old enough to have used typewriters (still have my Smith Corona from college) so I can appreciate how the woman’s typing skills who starts the mystery rolling is so valued by Perry and Della. This book is more about a court trial and Perry’s verbal sparring with rival, Hamilton Burger b ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Case Of The Terrified Typist (1954) I wonder, as I read Perry Mason, how much of his frenetic pacing is related to his writing which is almost entirely dialogue. I remember, along the way, one of the Perry Masons being advertised as “the one he loses.” I expect there’s a couple that vqguely qualify in one way or another, and this may be one of them. The dialogue engages, as does his command of the legal profession.
Mar 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, drm-bc1
More complex than the TV version of the story. A novel of its time, but it moves and is not full of violence, gore and non-plot related sex. The back and forth conversations and the legal insights are what make a Perry Mason an enjoyable read. Perry Mason, Della Street, Paul Drake and all the other characters come out fully formed from the first book in the series. The author does not age them. They pass through time and just continue doing their thing.
Jul 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the Perry Mason TV show when I was younger, so I was eager to read this novel. I've not read any Erle Stanley Gardner before. I'm afraid this novel was quite a disappointment. The characters were completely flat; the mystery was not engaging; the legal exposition was uninteresting. ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always liked the Perry Mason TV show

And I liked this and other of his books I’ve read. I just realized, of all the mystery books I own or have read I don’t think there is another one that has a lawyer for the protagonist. Anyway I like the clear thinking involved. The careful language used.
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to quit reading it. I thought I would enjoy reading Earle Stanley Gardner, but I didn’t. He called Perry Mason, Mason, and Della Street, Della Street every time he referred to her. I realized that it’s just one episode of the Perry Mason shows from a long time ago. Not my cup of tea.
Michael Brown
Not the best Mason story so far. Too much like TV episode but not sure if was really used as such as presented here. So many of the shows borrowed from many stories to get their scripts so it is hard to place. Still not a great story.
Darel Krieger
Fun read from Erle Stanley Gardner. The series of books I received for a present on the exploits of Perry Mason were all published in the 1950's. It is interesting to see little different things they did or said or accepted during this era. Good story. ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My Rating System:
* couldn't finish, ** wouldn't recommend, *** would recommend, **** would read again, ***** have read again.
ends quite abruptly.. :(
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Erle Stanley Gardner was an American lawyer and author of detective stories who also published under the pseudonyms A.A. Fair, Kyle Corning, Charles M. Green, Carleton Kendrake, Charles J. Kenny, Les Tillray, and Robert Parr.

Innovative and restless in his nature, he was bored by the routine of legal practice, the only part of which he enjoyed was trial work and the development of trial strategy. I

Other books in the series

Perry Mason (1 - 10 of 85 books)
  • The Case of the Velvet Claws (Perry Mason, #1)
  • The Case of the Sulky Girl (Perry Mason, #2)
  • The Case of the Lucky Legs (Perry Mason, #3)
  • The Case of the Howling Dog (Perry Mason, #4)
  • The Case of the Curious Bride (Perry Mason, #5)
  • The Case of the Counterfeit Eye (Perry Mason, #6)
  • The Case of the Caretaker's Cat (Perry Mason, #7)
  • The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece (Perry Mason, #8)
  • The Case of the Stuttering Bishop (Perry Mason, #9)
  • The Case of the Dangerous Dowager (Perry Mason, #10)

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