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Perry Mason #5

The Case of the Curious Bride

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This is a Perry Mason mystery novel.

224 pages, Paperback

Published June 14, 1989

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About the author

Erle Stanley Gardner

981 books709 followers
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. In his spare time, he began to write for pulp magazines, which also fostered the early careers of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. He created many different series characters for the pulps, including the ingenious Lester Leith, a "gentleman thief" in the tradition of Raffles, and Ken Corning, a crusading lawyer who was the archetype of his most successful creation, the fictional lawyer and crime-solver Perry Mason, about whom he wrote more than eighty novels. With the success of Perry Mason, he gradually reduced his contributions to the pulp magazines, eventually withdrawing from the medium entirely, except for non-fiction articles on travel, Western history, and forensic science.

See more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erle_Sta...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 124 reviews
Profile Image for Josh.
1,649 reviews156 followers
March 1, 2018
This was my first foray into the world of Perry Mason and I was pleasantly surprised.

The fifth installment in the long running Perry Mason series; a lawyer/private detective mashup of sorts, sees Perry Mason, off his own back take on a case where the defendant, at point of contact, has no idea she needed a lawyer to defend her against a murder charge. Rather, Rhoda Lorton, was asking the lawyer for help in a domestic case; her 'friends' husband had been missing, presumed dead for 7 years and now this 'friend' wants to know if she can marry again without having evidence of the husband's actual death.

What follows is pure pulp, and perfectly paced plotting as Perry Mason unravels a deadly thread of murder, cover-ups and schemes all centered around his apprehensive and somewhat unofficial client, Rhoda.

One of the thing I really liked about this book is the nature of Perry's unconventional investigative techniques. He employs a private eye but dabbles in the investigative angle himself - from casing out a murder scene, to tailing Rhoda's circle of friends - he's just as much a private eye as he is a lawyer - a hallmark of the series.

'My methods,' he said, 'are unconventional. So far they've never been criminal. Perhaps they're tricky, but they're the legitimate tricks that a lawyer is entitled to use. In cross-examining a witness I have got a right to use any sort of test I can think up, any sort of a build-up that's within the law.'

Then there's the court room antics which, to be honest, I found more entertaining than many of the modern day court room thrillers on the best seller list. There is some legal jargon but not too much that the reader can't easily follow what's going on.

The supporting cast is great; the aforementioned private eye on payroll, Paul Drake, and his trusty and street smart secretary, Della Street compliment Perry.

My rating: 4/5 stars, hits all the right notes for a pulp with some legal smarts thrown in. Perry Mason is an interesting character who I look forward to reading more of (I've got quite a few of these pulps in my tbr pile). The Case of the Curious Bride also has the added benefit of reading perfectly well as a standalone.
Profile Image for Melindam.
666 reviews294 followers
April 23, 2018

Wham! Bam! Thank you, Perry Mason. :)

If you want someone pulling a fast legal one on your enemies, he is you man ... lawyer .... defense attorney.

It's one of the early cases out of more than 80 books and it is fast and furious.

Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,942 followers
January 7, 2012
This is the fifth book in Erle Stanley Gardner's long-running Perry Mason series, originally published in 1934. By then, at least according to the storyline, Perry and his principal associates, Della Street and Paul Drake, were already in the prime of life and Perry had already mounted an impressive record of courtroom victories. Given that, one would assume that Perry, Della and Paul all must have been somewhere in their seventies or early eighties by the time they finally won their last case in 1973. But fortunately they aged well and seemed to be just as physically fit and mentally alert at the end of their careers as they had been in the beginning.

The case opens when a nervous young woman appears in the office to consult Perry "on behalf of a friend." She needs to know when a woman can have a missing husband legally declared dead so that she might be free to marry again. Naturally, Perry sees through the ruse and questions the woman aggressively. He figures that she will soon fold and reveal that she is there he own behalf and they can then get down to business. But the woman fools him and instead of caving, she gets up and leaves in a huff. Perry starts to feel bad because he was so gruff with the poor young thing, and he feels even worse when Della informs him that the woman had paid a $50.00 retainer!

The plot thickens when Perry discovers that the woman accidentally left her purse in the famous leather client chair. Naturally, there's a gun in the purse. Perry now feels morally obligated to assist the woman even though she has given Della a fake name, address and phone number. Of course this won't deter Perry in the slightest. He puts Paul Drake on the case and inevitably, by the end of the afternoon, he knows more about the woman than she knows about herself.

Naturally there will be a murder; Perry's client will be arrested and charged and things will look awfully black. Of course the D.A. will not play fair and this leads Perry to resort to some clever trickery of his own. Things move a mile a minute and at one point, the D.A. is actually checking up on everyone who owns a Buick in the entire city of Los Angeles! In the end, of course, there will be a great courtroom scene and Mason will again demonstrate his agile mind and his incomparable skill at cross-examining hostile witnesses. This is a quick fun read that would be enjoyed by anyone who likes to occasionally return to the golden age of the pulp paperback novel.
Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
1,011 reviews75 followers
May 31, 2022
The Case of the Curious Bride is the fifth Perry Mason novel written by Erle Stanley Gardner. I admit that it has been a very long time since I have read a Perry Mason novel, but I seem to recall that his novels are very similar in several ways. Again, forgive me if I do not have this quite right, but I recall that most of the novels have Mason holding his cards close to the vest until he is in the courtroom. The courtroom is generally the setting for his big reveal. The murdered is usually someone who deserves his comeuppance. The defendant is usually innocent, and the resolution is an unraveling of a complicated plot by a very shrewd and observant lawyer ala Sherlock Holmes. I found this little gem in a used bookstore here in Puerto Rico and I got all the feels just remembering the TV show way, way back in my yesteryears. I still tried to keep my perspective. This was a really engrossing book that I found difficult to put down. It fits in with my definition of a classic.
Profile Image for S.P. Aruna.
Author 3 books72 followers
May 5, 2019
After con man Greg Moxley married Rhoda Lorton, he took her money and flew the coop, as they say — only to have his plane crash. Years later, Rhoda weds millionaire scion Carl Montaine. But now Moxley has turned up alive and well….with plans to pocket the Montaine fortune — or else make Rhoda’s bigamy public. Desperate to protect the good name of Montaine, Rhoda seeks out Perry Mason. But before Mason can reel in Moxley, somebody murders the scheming blackmailer. In a case that abounds in lethal twists, Perry Mason suddenly finds himself on a collision course with a cold-blooded killer.

Well-written and well plotted, with many twists and turns, but dated in terms of the sometimes stilted dialogue. The Perry Mason series in general could be considered sanitized versions of the hard-boiled noir genre. However,the courtroom scenes are unsurpassed, and still stand as among the best in pop fiction.

Writing books spanning nearly four decades, Mr. Gardner is, according to one literary critic, the most widely read of all American writers of his time and the most widely translated author in the world.

Overall, this book was fun with minimal effort.
Profile Image for Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore.
799 reviews178 followers
April 4, 2018
The first of my theme related reads this month (for my reading plans and “theme” for the month see https://potpourri2015.wordpress.com/2...). One couldn’t possibly have Books and Lawyers as a theme and not read Perry Mason! This, one of the earlier titles in the Perry Mason series, sees yet another beautiful young woman seeking Mason’s help. When a certain Helen Crocker shows up at Mason’s office one morning seeking advice for a “friend”, it doesn’t take Mason and Della long to find out who her this friend is or that Helen herself is a new bride. But once found out, she does not come clean and seek Mason’s help deciding to deal with her problem, a blackmailer, on her own. But when the blackmailer ends up dead, and she is the prime suspect, she has to turn to Mason once again, who finds that aside from the DA, he has a formidable opponent in the form of the young lady’s millionaire father-in-law, who will go to any lengths to get his son free of who is believes is a gold-digger.

This was once again a very exciting and fast-paced Perry Mason mystery. As usual, before I could even get my head around what was happening, or what the matter was all about, Mason had already begun to lay the foundations for the case, and spinning a web in which he sews up the prosecution as always, also solving the mystery in the process. Through I couldn’t work out how each element would come together at the end, in this one it was pretty clear that even he doesn’t know how exactly things will play out and takes all possible steps/actions, or lays all possible traps which can go on to help him later. As usual I enjoyed the courtroom scenes where the slightly overconfident Deputy District Attorney in this one John Lucas (No Hamilton Burger this time) doesn’t realise what he’s getting himself into, poor chap. In this one, Mason’s client is a little more straightforward than usual (never having read these in order, am not sure if this is because it is earlier in the series), but I was almost wondering whether she really did do it, considering all that she said. It did have the same sort of “feel” as hardboiled detective stories but perhaps not as strong as some of the others. Enjoyed reading this one.
Profile Image for Amit Bikram.
54 reviews1 follower
April 5, 2020
One of the better Perry Mason books, especially as it contains a courtroom scene, which Gardner is a master of. The plot is strong and there are not too many points where the reader has to suspend belief. Every proof that comes in handy at the end has been mentioned before and there is no out of the blue solution presented, which can not be said for all Perry Mason books.

The characters involved are believable, and there is a bit where Mason is able to identify the true reason behind the suspect's father-in-law's behavior while the audience is blindsided. The flow of the story is quite fast, as is the case with almost all books involving Mason, and that is mostly due to the lawyer getting personally involved in the case at hand and trying to solve it before the police and the prosecution. There is at least one weak point that I personally felt could have been covered better, but overall it is a book that brings Mason's skills to the limelight(including his persona in court), while doesn't lose sight of the story.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,254 reviews
September 17, 2017
This is my first Perry Mason mystery and I really enjoyed it.
I can get over the sexism (a sign of the times) and the use of full names...always...and what is going on with him and Della Street? *wink wink*
The mystery was solved in a very satisfying manner and Mason's freedom from the usual methods of investigation was thrilling.
I am in awe of his manipulation/interpretation of the law and will certainly be reading more of these!
This is my Perry Mason...

Profile Image for Anastasia.
1,521 reviews71 followers
June 18, 2019
The Case of the Curious Bride by Erle Stanley Gardner is the 5th book in the Perry Mason Mystery series. Recently married Rhoda Montaine consults Perry Mason when her previous husband, thought to have died in a plane crash, turns up alive and blackmails her for money. When he is killed and Rhoda is arrested, Perry Mason is again in the middle of a murder case. I am slowly rereading the books in order this time and they are just as good as I remember. A fast paced mystery with plenty of twists and tricks. Perry Mason is brilliant as always.
Profile Image for Lemar.
672 reviews56 followers
November 28, 2018
The appeal of Perry Mason, his secretary Della Street and detective Paul Drake lie in their putting truth and justice ahead of money and safety and doing so with cleverness and enjoyment. Once again they put it all on the line for their client.
In the Case of the Curious Bride they take on the smugness of inherited wealth, the evil of con men who prey on women and a District Attorneys who rush to judgement. These mysteries are fun who-done-its that use deep psychological motives with the subtlety they deserve.
“You can’t explain your feelings - you can only recognize them.”
”There is nothing that gets a person’s goat like not letting them talk when they are trying to make a play for sympathy.”
Profile Image for Gary Sundell.
356 reviews53 followers
September 30, 2022
Finally, Perry starts exercising his court room chops. I enjoyed the audio book. A review of the various book covers for this entry in the series shows that I missed this one during my massive Mason purchases back in the late 60s and early 70s.
Profile Image for Vicki.
1,207 reviews154 followers
June 30, 2016
This book had the curious woman asking questions for her friend. When she leaves Perry because of his obvious disbelief, she leaves having paid for his services in advanced. Perry searches for her and only when she is about to be accused of murder of her long missing husband does he locate her. He provides some amazing lawyer tricks in the last moments to bring the truth to light.

The blackmailer is a grimy guy and really deserves what he gets. I love the way Earle Stanley Gardner writes and how his mind works. I just love Perry Mason and his crew.
January 28, 2019
This is the fifth book that Erle Stanley Gardner has written. Definitely one of my favorites.
After con man Greg Moxley married Rhoda Lorton, he took her money and flew—only to have his plane crash. Years later, Rhoda weds millionaire scion Carl Montaine. But now Moxley has turned up alive and well….with plans to pocket the Montaine fortune—or else make Rhoda’s bigamy public. Desperate to protect the good name of Montaine, Rhoda seeks out Perry Mason. But before Mason can reel in Moxley, somebody murders the scheming blackmailer. In a case that abounds in lethal twists, Perry Mason suddenly finds himself on a collision course with a cold-blooded killer.

Of all the "Perry Mason" films of the 1930's (there were six films, produced from 1934 to 1937), this one has to be the best

Warren William, who played Mason in more of these films than anyone else, elevates this short murder mystery from programmer to an 'almost-A' feature.

Claire Dodd, as Della Street, is little more than window dressing, as were all of the "Della's" in these early Warners' Perry Mason films. Allen Jenkins gives one of his standard (but good) blustery performances as Mason's side-kick, Paul Drake (called "Spuds" Drake in this film, and a complete opposite of TV's dapper Paul Drake, played by William Hopper). The best supporting role was that of Olin Howard as the coroner, who is also Perry's good buddy, and frequent dining partner. The veteran character actress, Margaret Lindsay is the "Curious Bride" of the title.

The real surprise (the first time I saw this) was seeing Errol Flynn doing a "bit" part in a flashback sequence at the end of the film. Flynn has a non-speaking part as Margaret Lindsay's first husband. This flashback scene is narrated by the Curious Bride's current husband, played by Donald Woods (who would later play Perry Mason in another of these Warner Brothers efforts, though not anywhere as entertainingly as Warren William).

The use of soft-focus fades for every scene change, at first seems to help move the story, but can also be a bit irritating.-- Overall though, this is a well photographed film, --both the nicely composed interiors, and the outdoor urban location shots of 1935 San Francisco (although the Mason stories are mostly based in L.A.).

Directed by Michael Curtiz, this swift-moving murder mystery has the feel of many of Curtiz's bigger-budgeted Warner films, and is easily the best of the Mason series. At the same time, it is not too unlike the other 5 Mason films that Warners produced.

Unfortunately, Warren William could not play Mason in all of these films, but overlooking that fact, all six of the Warners "Perry Mason" films, including "The Case of the Stuttering Bishop", "The Case of the Velvet Claws," and "The Case of the Lucky Legs" are very faithful to the source material, and all are entertainingly done.

By the way-- because all of these films were adapted from original Earl Stanley Gardner stories, all of these titles showed up in the 1950's, produced as episodes in Raymond Burr's "Perry Mason" TV series. It's very interesting to see the different treatment these stories were given on TV.
Profile Image for Dipanjan.
300 reviews11 followers
February 4, 2019
The 5th novel down my "journey into time" (started in 2015) to discover old treasures like the Perry Mason Series, is, once again, a complete page-turner.

"The Case Of The Curious Bride" is yet another superb thriller that pulls of a superb plot that entertains to the hilt. Perry Mason, a character created in 1930s, can easily be a part of 2019 and the author would need to change NOTHING (not even a word) to adjust to the advanced world since 1930s. Now, THAT, for sure is what is evergreen. The story telling has the same intensity now as it did then.

This one was a lot of fun with Perry pulling out all the stops to prove his client's innocence. Della is so smart, efficient and above all loyal and for the first time in the series, she gets put in her place by Mason for being overprotective! The characters were well-developed and interesting. After a disastrous 1st marriage to a swindling user, the defendant marries again this time a weak, almost helpless man on the rebound. The plot is clever, Mason is even more clever, and there isn't a dull moment. The protagonist, Rhoda Montaine, is human enough to be both fallible and likable.
Perry Mason is referred in this story as a "Wizard Of The Court Room", more a sleuth than a lawyer, who uses the fold of the legal system to hunt for the truth, takes calculated risks AND utilizes his devious mind to uncover pure evidence that would solve the case. Mr. Gardner continues to follow the KISS rule. 192 pages are all you get to race through this riveting story. Till the very end you will keep gasping "What is Perry Mason up to?". You will, once again, let go of your sleep to get to the bottom of things.

This episode continues to be a fine example of American Literature from the yesteryears. No wonder Gardner was one of the best-selling writers of all times, and certainly one of the best-selling mystery authors ever.

I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this 5thd book. There are a total of 82 novels (which I now fortunately own in my shelves). It's a treasure cove indeed!!
Profile Image for Dean Anderson.
Author 10 books4 followers
April 2, 2023
I've often watched the Perry Mason television show, but this is only the second Perry Mason novel I've read. Both the character and the story structure of the two are quite different. The television show is a traditional whodunit. The emphasis is on finding out who committed the murder (always a murder) and seeing that justice is done. In the couple of books I've read, the emphasis is on Perry getting his client off, and he doesn't seem particularly interested in who committed the murder (always a murder.) In both books I've read, though we find out who committed the murder, it's unclear whether the murderer will ever face justice from the legal system. Even more different is the way the character of Mason in presented. As played by the large, imposing, yet also somehow soft Raymond Burr, Mason is rather tenderhearted toward many of his clients. He is quite obviously not a man of violence, preferring to depend on his wit and the law. He is wily, but upright and honest. Mason in the books...Is different than that. For instance, this is Mason in the book confronting police detectives: "Mason's jaw jutted forward. His eyes became steely. "Pipe down, gumshoe," he said, "or I'll button your lip with a set of knuckles."" Can't imagine Burr saying that. He also is much less interested in fair play than the TV character. In this book, he tampers with evidence, barely staying within the law. But hey, he gets paid and paid well at the end of the book, so he's got that going for him. (Trigger warning, if bothered by sexism or racism, these 1930's pulps might not be for you.)
354 reviews134 followers
November 26, 2015
I enjoyed this book. I always enjoy a good Peary Mason book with all of its' cast of charictors including Della Street Peary Mason's secretary and Paul Drake Peary Mason's detective. Enjoy and Be Blessed. Diamond
116 reviews7 followers
January 13, 2020
I've been reading Gardner's Perry Mason books for many years. I love the general setting: the characters of Perry, Della, Paul, Lt. Tragg, and Hamilton Burger. That, and the ingenious plots, are why I read Perry Mason.

On the whole, the ones written by about 1953 are the best. This is the fifth one, from 1934. As in all the early ones, Perry is a hard boiled agressive ingenious fighter, not the more urbane established figure of the much later TV series. It is excellent.

The story begins when a young woman comes into Perry's office with a question. [Both the Velvet Claws and the Sulky Girl begin similarly.] She says she is asking for a friend, who wants to know if it's true that after seven years a missing person is presumed dead. Perry says, yes, that is the presumption. She then asks, so if a husband is missing and presumed dead, a woman would be free to remarry? And it would be legal even if the man later turned up? Perry says, no, not so fast. If a husband later turned up alive, that would invalidate a later marriage. The woman is now disappointed. Perry thinks, of course, that she is really asking all this for herself. He prods her too much and she leaves in a huff.

Perry regrets he pushed her too far, and becomes even more regretful when he learns from Della that she left a retainer of $50. That changes everything. Perry now feels he has let down a client. He wants to right this wrong.

Fortunately they find that the woman left her purse in the folds of the chair where she had been sitting. [A similar thing happens in the Daring Divorcee.] Mason finds in there a clue to an address. He goes there and finds nurse Nell Brinley, sometime roommate of Rhoda. It doesn't take long for Paul Drake and Perry to trace her "former" husband, Gregory Lorton, alias Moxley, and her new one, Carl Montaine. Perry has a somewhat belligerant meeting with Moxley, then leaves.

The next morning the story is all over the newspapers: "Midnight Visitor Kills Crook". Turns out that Moxley was a confidence man of many aliases who would marry women, take their money, and disappear. Someone killed him the previous night, evidently around 2:00am according to a witness in a neighboring building. The murderer dropped a set of keys, which are pictured in the newspaper.

As he is reading the paper, Carl Montaine comes in. He is Rhoda's new husband. They married without telling his millonaire father, who became upset when he heard the news. Carl says his wife will soon be arrested for the murder, as those are her keys in the paper! He tells a complex story of what he thinks happened the previous night, and feels duty-bound to tell the police that the keys belong to Rhoda! What a nice husband! Rhoda is arrested.

This is among the most complex plots in the whole Perry Mason canon. We meet a doctor who may be in love with Rhoda, and another woman who was bilked by Moxley/Lorton. The father shows up, C. Phillip Montaine, who wants the marriage of his son and Rhoda annulled, in which case he will be glad to fund the defense of Rhoda. But if they were not legally married, Carl could be called as a witness against Rhoda!

Perry pulls off an amazing switch of door bells, which would seem to stretch the bounds of legality. There is an interesting "slice of life" episode with a sidewalk hole-in-the-wall printer. It's neat to see little details of how life was lived 80 years ago.

There is a small but crucial clue in the story that one of the characters tells early on. Watch for it!

No Hamilton Burger. The district attorney never appears in person and is just refrred to as "the district attorney." No Sgt. Holcomb or Lt. Tragg. They all came later in the series. Good use of Paul Drake.

Recurring themes: Clever cross-examination. Ne'er-do-well son of wealthy man.

Characters who we meet:

Rhoda (Lorton) Montaine, young woman who comes to see Perry. Della says she looks like a recent bride.
Gregory Moxley (Lorton), mystery man of many aliases.
Nell Brinley, former roommate of Rhoda Montaine.
Carl Montaine, new husband of Rhoda, who really has more need of a mother.
C. Phillip Montaine, wealthy father of Carl, determined to preserve the family reputation.
Dr. Claude Millsap, friend of Rhoda who signed the death certificate of Gregory Lorton years before.
Dr. Millsap's nurse.
Doris Pender, woman who was once bilked by Moxley.
Oscar Pender, her brother.
Sidney Otis, cooperative electrician.
Mr. and Mrs. Crandall, neighbors who were awakened by a bell - not a buzzer.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for netraa ☆.
101 reviews8 followers
April 15, 2022
I was not expecting the ending. I can't say this is the first Perry Mason book that has thrown me for a loop and I'm certain that this isn't the last. I must confess, Perry Mason is the exact medicine to the string of reading slumps that I was looped into, heightened by the little exam crisis that I am facing.

Back to the book, Perry Mason's calm and composed demeanour, his twinkling eyes and unconventional methods have deeply restored my beliefs in human intelligence. After reading books about girls thirsting for boys and weird parents and teenage drama, this book was a perfect companion to restore my faith in humanity and enough to make me consider becoming a lawyer.
Erle Stanley Gardner has a humorous yet an entirely clever writing style, a perfect balance between witty and descriptive.

I love the role Paul Drake plays in this book, and the twinkling eyes of Judge Markham. I feel like I like this Judge way better than the others. The characters are extremely well thought out, and as Poirot might put it, the psychology of the case came through very well.

Probably the part of the plot that appealed to me the most would have to be the courtroom scenes and how Perry Mason never ceases to astound me of how he can use his words to confuse people and manipulate them. His approach with the jury was so contrasting from that of Lucas, and that would be a very memorable moment for me.

Lucas' dealings were pretty hilarious but I must admit, I low key missed Hamilton Burger, and Gardner's explanation of his expression after he loses yet another case against Perry Mason.

To say the least, I really enjoyed this story. The case was interesting and I would never have imagined the murderer, which from experience I can say are the best kind of books.
Profile Image for Jenny.
959 reviews90 followers
March 23, 2021
Since I love social commentary, the two aspects of this book that stand out to me the most are, of course, elements of social commentary.

One, the wealthy's responsibility to do more than encourage their children to care about the family name and protecting the family wealth. They need to educate their children and make sure they're capable of handling whatever the world may throw at them. They can't protect and shield their children forever, and what type of citizens are they creating if they allow their children to be coddled and know nothing about the real world that will inevitably touch theirs at some point?
Example: "'I know something of [his] character. I learned it from talking to [her]. I know that he fears your disapproval more than anything on earth. I know that he values his family name because he has been taught to value it... I know that your son has never faced any real crisis in his life by himself. He has always had you to lean on... When it came down to a real test, your son didn't have guts enough and didn't have manhood [it was the 50's🤷‍♀️] enough to stand up and take it on the chin'." Then, "'Your son did...an irreparable wrong. We can forgive him; he was a weakling. But you did...an irreparable wrong, and...we can't forgive you! You're a strong man, and you're going to pay.' Perry Mason's eyes burned steadily into those of the multi-millionaire... [He] took out his checkbook. His face was utterly without expression. His lips were compressed into a thin line. 'It would seem,' he said, 'that both my son and myself have, perhaps, taken too much credit because of our ancestors..."
This is harsh and obvious critique if there ever was critique. Gardner makes it clear what he thinks of people who emphasize and put so much into their family name without actually rearing their children to be independent citizens who can contribute to society in ways that matter and not just in material ways.

Two, the tendency of some women [it was the 50's] to want to marry "weak" men in order to mother them because of a "suppressed mothering instinct."
Example: Rhoda Montaine doesn't want to marry Dr. Millsap because she's been hurt by a strong, "manly" man before, so she takes on a spoiled, weak man instead, thinking she can turn him into a man through mothering. She forgets about actually loving a person for who he is because she wants to be the one to "fix" him. But she learns that a "weak" person is weak for a reason, and weakness can just as easily be turned against the person one hopes to "fix."
This commentary is interesting. Gardner isn't wrong that some women do want to mother men and that some women even seek out weak-willed men for this very reason. However, it's obvious what Gardner thinks about this tendency--it's better to marry someone one loves than to marry someone one doesn't love just for the sake of fulfilling some unfulfilled need in oneself.

As for the book itself, it contains a bit more dialogue than other Mason novels I've read, I think because this is an earlier novel in the series, and it moves pretty slowly. There's a lot of care in setting up the details for later, but it's repetitive. It's like Mason is examining and cross-examining throughout the book with various people, so there's a lot of question and answer. I like that in courtroom scenes, but throughout the book, it was too choppy. The actual courtroom scene is great. Mason is so sly. Like he tells Della, everything he does is legal, but that doesn't mean he won't take shortcuts to prove his point. I felt like his character was a bit more aggressive in this book than in other Mason novels, but at the end of the story, he's the same Mason he always is--a courtroom acrobat who knows how to make his case and make a fool out of the D.A. The story is enjoyable and interesting with some good red herrings along the way.

Overall, a solid book but one I'm not likely to remember for very long.

(I just thought of another element of social commentary in the novel. It's much more subtle than the two I mentioned above, but it's about who deserves the death penalty and who should mete it out. Basically, if Rhoda is guilty of murder, the D.A. wants the death penalty, but we assume from the beginning that Rhoda isn't guilty, so if she lost her case and was convicted, an innocent woman would die. However, Mason makes the point at the end of the novel that Gregory, the man who dies in the book (not a spoiler--it's in the book blurb) deserved to die. He says something like, "If ever a man deserved to die, it's Gregory." Why? Because Gregory was a serial offender of using women for their money. He'd meet single women who had saved or invested money, and he'd use his charm to win them over, and then, he'd tell them he needed cash for something, appealing to their good natures and emotions. Once they gave him their money, he'd split. He did this all over the country to countless women, even marrying some of them (so, he was a bigamist too) to fully play up the role to make his point. This is the man that Mason says deserved to die. Does he, though? Does someone like Gregory deserve to die even though people like Rhoda don't? Who gets to decide who deserves to die and who should get to live? So, again, for a mystery novel, some great thought-provoking issues involved, which is usually the case and one reason I love mysteries).
Profile Image for Melinda.
758 reviews53 followers
May 5, 2021
I'm on a Perry Mason kick. I was introduced to Perry Mason through the TV program starring Raymond Burr. I have read a few of the books, but thought I'd compare the episode version with the book version. Obvious why some plot lines were left out of the TV episode... but the mystery is actually pretty interesting!
Profile Image for Freya .
163 reviews79 followers
October 2, 2014
This was a story packed with action and court room drama and yet somehow I feel a little deprived. As if the author wrapped up the story in a hurry at the end so he could move on to the next one.
Profile Image for Priya.
1,512 reviews36 followers
March 8, 2023
I was a huge fan of Perry Mason in my teenage years and beyond. His confidence in his clients, his legal ability and his style are all amazing but the best part is the way he takes chances and always gives more than 100% to every case. The combination of his secretary Della Street and detective Paul Drake by his side and their loyalty to the lawyer is another key feature in all the books.
This is one of those cases where Mason gets into the situation himself in a manner of speaking. Of course, he isn't a conventional practitioner of the law who waits for clients in his office but in some instances, he pursues a matter that becomes much bigger than it looked initially and gets totally involved! This is one such example where newly married Rhoda Montaine comes to him wanting legal advice for a friend regarding the validity of a marriage but abruptly leaves when Mason's perceptiveness causes him to ask questions she isn't comfortable answering. Feeling that he was probably her last resort, he goes about trying to find her, only to discover that a man who was blackmailing her has been murdered and she is the suspect.
There is a lot of exciting courtroom drama and cross examination and bringing the DA down in this book and those were my favourite moments. I don't think I will ever tire of Mason's gimmicks even in this age of convoluted and technologically helped mysteries and thrillers. There's something he brings to the table with his personality that sets him apart!
Profile Image for Richa.
474 reviews43 followers
June 25, 2018
Being one of the earlier books in the series, Mason is still relatively fresh, more of a detective than a lawyer, there is a little distance between Della and him and he is full of tricks! Somehow, I have felt that as more books were added to the Mason Mysteries, the ingenuity slowed down. Mason was made to live up to a certain caricature of a ruthless, strong, well known lawyer; with the solutions conveniently rushed up at the very end. Almost akin to the later Poirot mysteries.
Profile Image for Bailey Marissa.
1,117 reviews51 followers
January 12, 2021

Only one Perry and Della moment with Paul being the biggest trolling shipper known to man after almost catching them.

Recommended 12+ for language, murder, and talks of infidelity.
Profile Image for Aaditya.
17 reviews1 follower
March 8, 2023
A classic opening to a Perry Mason novel- nervous woman posing as a client to seek legal advice for a ‘friend’, and a no-nonsense hard headed attorney who’s not buying her hooey, cause when it comes to the facts of a case, Perry Mason is a paid gladiator! And he always wants to be ready to fight any bolt out of the blue that may come his way!
Helen Croker, aka Rhoda Montaine, a bride with pride has found herself in a mayhem induced by her presumed-to-be-dead ex-husband, who is now threatening her new happy married life.

What follows is a fast paced, pure pulpy and a thrilling plot line that unravels a murder rap, hidden intentions and hoodwinks all centred around Mason’s unofficial client Rhoda Montaine.

Perry Mason is not a detective, he’s a lawyer. But he doesn’t sit around waiting for the case to go to trial, he investigates in his own way! And boy! his deductions may not be on par with that of Holmes or Poirot, but his genius is equally frightening and fascinating!
What i really like about him, is that his way of functioning is not at all conventional! In fact, his methods may even make you question the legality of his actions, however, Perry Mason plays things close to the chest, and he’ll do anything to make his client’s defence ironclad!

“I’ve fought the devil with fire before this, and haven’t had my fingers burnt”
4 reviews
March 21, 2008

Perry Mason - the most famous criminal lawyer in fiction, whose mental agility once again baffles the District Attorney's office...
Helen Crocker - a seemingly diffident soul who is most anxious to secure information for "a friend"...
Della Street - the perfect secretary, whose insight into human nature is a valuable asset to her boss...
Paul Drake - the quick-witted private detective who gets himself a job by working a hunch...
Nell Brinley - a secretive trained nurse and "a receiver of other people's telegrams"...
Gregory Moxley - a man with a way with the women...
Rhoda Montaine - a bride with pride - and ideals...
Carl W. Montaine - Rhoda's husband, who doesn't make the best use of his fortune or his family...
Doctor Claude Millsap - a lovesick physician...
C. Phillip Montaine - a pedigreed multi-millionaire, Carl's father and his worst enemy...
Danny Spear - a wide-eyed, yokelish private eye...
John Lucas - belligerent and wily deputy district attorney...
Benjamin Crandall - something in his memory rang a bell...

Profile Image for Kakha.
555 reviews
September 25, 2021
This is the Fifth Book about the unforgettable Perry Mason and his lovely and sweet secretary, Della Street! Interesting deeds, mutual respect, honesty, loyalty, real friendship – and all this is real, not a bit fake! Our beloved author created all these stories in a very believable and, for sure, it is clear that from deep in the heart. That is why even after almost 90 years have passed, hundreds of millions of people remember these books and love them dearly.
Great delight awaits the reader. After all, this book is unforgettable and incredibly interesting.
Profile Image for Jeff J..
2,050 reviews13 followers
December 7, 2020
Fifth book in the Perry Mason series, and one of the most inventive. Appropriately it was adapted first as a movie and later as an episode of the TV series. Mason defends a woman accused of murder, and who insists on complicating her defense. Mason’s actions seem a little sketchy, and I’m not entirely satisfied with the resolution, nevertheless it was a great read.
Profile Image for Jc.
886 reviews
May 14, 2021
Sure, I have confessed here previously that I enjoy reading all of Gardner’s mysteries (as well as being a fan of the original P.Mason TV series). But, that being acknowledged, this was one I had a lot of fun with. The twists and the characters put Curious Bride a bit above the average Mason story, and the ending is classic Gardner.
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