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The Case of the Singing Skirt

(Perry Mason #58)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Ellen Robb does more than just sing for her supper — she also dances and sells cigarettes in a two-bit gambling parlor in a one-horse town. But when she hits a sour note with her scheming employer by refusing to help fleece a fat-cat customer in a crooked card game, she finds herself out of all three jobs. That's when she sings her song of woe to Perry Mason, who promises ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 198 pages
Published April 22nd 1992 by Fawcett (first published 1959)
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Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ellen Robb had a job of a singer, a dancer, and a cigarette girl at a gambling place.
When she was asked by her boss to help fleecing a sucker customer at poker she quickly learned her boss does not take hearing "no" lightly. Before she knew it she was accused of a theft and thrown out of her place of work - literally. She came to Mason asking for help. The latter decided to work for peanuts and put the bully in place (Ellen's good looks did not hurt to make up his mind either).

Not only Mason w
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Jul 22, 2013 rated it liked it
I have this one in a two-fer with The Case of the Black-Eyed Blond. Singing Skirt is entertaining enough. Two too many guns get involved in a murder, and Hamilton Burger raises hell in the court by complaining that every time Mason gets his hands on murder weapons he "juggles them around and just confuses everyone!"

No shit, Counselor!

Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A good read, as practically all the Perry Mason stories are, but I think a different emphasis on some of the aspects of this case could have made it more entertaining. A little less legal mumbo jumbo and a little more how did that boat wind up on the other side of Catalina. Figuring out how the different guns had gotten to different places at different times was fun. Gardner seemed to neglect the personalities of Mason's defendants in some of the later books, and that shortfall is felt here.
Danny Reid
Great premise kind of falls apart for a very routine feeling finale. It is pretty hard to believe that someone comes into Perry Mason’s office at this point, 60 books in, with a spent cartridge and he doesn’t immediately assume murder. Come on, dude.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like this one because Perry takes on a bully (though that is left a bit unresolved, honestly), and because there is some epic gun juggling happening in this book. Tragg and the DA aren't wrong - When Perry Mason gets involved, there is often just a few too many smith & wessons that show up...

Aside from that, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself surprised at the end (I was remembering the TV episode more than the book, and while very similar they do vary in a few key ways).

One major downs
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Lots of twists and complications in this one. An interesting nugget of the law is explored that covers someone being shot by two bullets from two different guns. Which gun and shooter is responsible for the murder?

For the first time I found Gardner slip up. There is one point in the story that is swept under by the DA Hamilton Burger. He does not dig into how a gun makes it from Mason to the murderer.

It felt like Gardner could not explain it away so he escaped it! :(
Avinash K
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the book. The story begins with Mason citing a few interesting verdicts and you have a feeling some of them might come into play. Mason nearly get bushwhacked by his own smartness or over smartness. The plot is well crafted with enough twists and turns like a California freeway, but the author has complete control. There are a few open ends when the story finishes, but one saves Mason's skin and another, well, while the fan would have wanted a KO by Mason, it just dissolves into ...more
Rupesh Goenka
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Story -- Ellen Robb who works in a Casino as a singer, dancer and cigarette girl is asked by the owner to help in cheating a customer in a Poker game. Ellen refuses to get embroiled in the situation and is thrown out. Mason helps her to put the Boss in place. Ellen is then accused of killing her said to be lover's wife. Mason once again comes to her rescue & fights her case. Though not the best of Perry Mason mystery it is a one time read. FAIR. ...more
Carl Buehler
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Please read my review of The Case of the Deadly Toy.
Jon Koebrick
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Earle Stanley Gardner was a most clever writer and attorney. This mystery legal thriller is well written with a tight plot and excellent dialogue now over sixty years old.
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Over the last thirty-five years I've read all of the Mason novels at least once, and most several times. This is not one of the best, though it is pretty good considering it is a late novel.

It was written in 1959. By then, the TV series was a huge hit, Gardner was aging, and he was churning these novels out with the help of a staff. It shows. From around 1934 to 1940 the novels have a film noir feel and can be intense. From 1940 to around 1952 they are more mellow, but very creative and pretty w
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, legal
#60 in the Perry Mason series. Instead of his usual L.A. haunts, much of this entry takes place in Rowena, a nearby town controlled by gambling interests. Ellen Robb runs afoul of the gamblers and is run out of town in her cigarette girl costume. She goes to Perry and he decides to gain retribution for her. I found some nautical elements of this 1959 entry to be reminiscent of the classic The Case of the Crooked Candle (1944). Average.

#60 Perry Mason series - Ellen Robb does more than just sing
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Ellen Robb worked as a singer and cigarette seller at a gambling hall in the small town of Rowena. When she refuses to take part in a plan to cheat a customer who likes her, the hall's owner George Anclitas comes up with a ruse to frame her for stealing. Robb asks Perry Mason for help, and he takes on the case. Mason helps Ellen Robb beat the stealing charge, but she comes back for more help. Mason's attempt to save her the second time may cause him to lose his license, but he's determined to wo ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
A casino singer finds herself out of work, accused of something she didn’t do, and all because she refused to cheat a customer. Desperate for help and worried about her personal welfare, she approaches renowned defense attorney Perry Mason. He initially helps her get her job back, and things seem ok for a time. But a regular customer has fallen hard for her, and the man’s wife isn’t exactly thrilled about that. She approaches the casino owner, demanding her money back—the money her husband has l ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The usual quick inhalation and the book is done! I need to get an omnibus or something so it'll last longer. Anyway, this was an edge-of-the-seater for a couple of reasons. Rather late in the book it seems most everyone, including Mason, thinks his client has lied to him. Not new I guess, but this puts Mason in a bit of a wringer because of some consideration he has made for his client. And Hamilton Burger has seemingly gotten wise to it; it could mean disbarment for Perry Mason if he doesn't th ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: gardner-read
I'm a bit disappointed with this one. The plot twists are good as always, and the novel is enjoyable, but I knew who was lying long before it occurred to Mason which was a little irritating after a while. A beautiful cigarette girl makes the famous lawyer take her case, over and over again. There are very interesting legal court decisions presented and a lot of surprising schemes. Mason really get his hands wet fighting the powerful casino moguls.
Les Anderson
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow, I still don't understand how Mason figured out the actual chain of events. This case comes closest to landing Mason in jail, although his actions were legal. Also one of the better depictions of Hamilton Burger. It's amazing how Mason figures these things out while court is in session.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it liked it
The case is interesting enough, but a bit of an eye roller with some of the unlikely things that happen. Sadly the interesting part of the case was just some window dressing (the gamblers) while the murder was the main focus.
Lee Ann
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Fast paced, well-written, clever – ESG relies too much on the deus ex machina to clear everything up – Hamilton Burger would be more of a foil if he were less of a caricature. Thrift store find
Jeffrey Marks
Jun 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Very noir for a Mason book. Brings back memories of Gardner's pulp days with a city run by the grifters who have set up a gambling operation in town. Of course, Mason prevails over them.
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a lot legal than some other books in the series and hence satisfied the lawyer in me! It was also extremely confusing but logical at the same time. A good case.
Rijo John
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Nice plot - solves too easily without hassles
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
The first Perry Mason book I read..Was quick to read and had a certain amount of suspense..
James Vest
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Perry Mason, in the hottest water I've even seen him in after one of the most complex, twist filled setups, whose only detriment as a story is it's courtroom carousel of redundant questions.
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I like Erle Stanley Gardner, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed this one. A nice light and fast read. A good "escape" book.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I'm currently pretty close to the beginning, but I really like mysteries and I loved watching Perry Mason as a kid.
Michael P.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Gardner has lost it by the time he churned out this sorry Perry Mason novel. It is better to get the palgue than to read this book.
Elizabeth S
Dec 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-mystery
One of the better Perry Masons. Has several interesting legal points, nice case-work, and not as frustrating as some Perry Mason stories.
Vincent Darlage
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I last read this twenty years ago. It's still quite the page turner. I wasn't sure how Perry was going to get out of it this time.
Charles Sampedro
rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2018
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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)
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