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The Case of the Cautious Coquette (Perry Mason Mystery, #34)
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The Case of the Cautious Coquette

(Perry Mason #34)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  591 ratings  ·  38 reviews
When Perry Mason questioned Lucille Barton, she lied about her past, about her many marriages, about her gun, about her boyfriends. Then the murders began. And the cops turned up evidence that clearly pointed to one killer--Perry Mason!
Mass Market Paperback, Third Printing, 230 pages
Published 1989 by Ballantine Books (first published 1949)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  591 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Please ignore the book blurb as it has as much in common with the actual book content as me with professional ukulele musicians.
Having said that let me give you my version of the plot outline; I should be able to do a better job as I:
1. Finished the book just yesterday.
2. Actually read it from the beginning to the end the old-fashioned way: page by page, top to bottom, left to right.

Perry Mason had a hit-and-run accident on his hands. He felt really bad for the victims and decided to find the c
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
As always it is great fun reading a Perry Mason mystery with the many twists and turns in the plot, and red herrings. Much of this mystery centers around developing the central plot device of a hit and run accident where Perry Mason is representing the victims that provides the backdrop to the murder in which Perry Mason is a suspect. Therefore, unlike in most of the mysteries in the series, courtroom drama, for which the stories are noted, plays a de minimus role in the tale and its resolution.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The joy of a proper whodunnit is in it's unpredictability. After a long time read a book that had me confused till the very end. This is one of those books with lots of theatricals by Perry Mason and he is right behind the eight ball, to the extent of being an accessory to murder.

Perry Mason is forced to defend a defendant he did not want anything to do with. He doesn't trust her and has a lot stacked against her. So, when he finds out he has no option but to defend her if he doesn't want to be
Paul Jellinek
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? I love those old Perry Mason books, despite (or because of?) the shameless cliches, the utterly interchangable plots, the stilted dialogue, and the fact that I don't really care who done it. Every time Perry takes Della out for another "thick, juicy steak," I know that at least something is still right with the world.
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, legal
#34 in the Perry Mason series. This 1949 entry is a suitably complex representative of the series. An unusual aspect of this novel has Perry representing himself as the lawyer of a client he has previously declined to represent. After turning Lucile Barton down in her request for him to represent her in a settlement with her ex-husband, he is with her when a body is found in her garage. He tells her to report the body to the police and leaves. She doesn't and a neighbor provides a shaky identifi ...more
Black Heart Magazine
Aug 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, Perry Mason fans
Shelves: americans, mysteries
Picked this one up for 25 cents at the Atwater Library's book sale. Worth every penny! Especially for this exchange printed on the book's back cover:

"'Could this letter,' Mason asked Della Street, 'have been written by the woman herself? I want to get the feminine angle.'

Della laughed. 'There aren't any feminine angles--they're curves.'

Fast curves!"

Definitely has retro appeal, with its terminology like "frame-up" and "slick flimflams" and I think, at some point, someone must have referred to wom
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A car accident with too many people claiming responsibility and amurder that appears to frame Perry Mason himself. I love the fact that Perry is still his reckless self--illegally breaking into apartments, stealing clues before the police can discover them.... But this mystery wasn't as intriguing as most of the mysteries.

My edition also contained two Perry Mason novelettes: THE CASE OF THE CRIMSON KISS (1948) and HE CASE OF THE CRYING SWALLOW (1947). Neither were tp drawer Perry Mason. It's int
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
My first Perry Mason novel, and far better than expected. Sure, it's dated and pulp-alicious, but it's also extremely clever and the underlying mystery is a lot more intricate than its mere 220 pages would suggest. Watching Mason obliterate his oppenents during the court sequences was profoundly satisfying and, again, surprisingly well done for a book that's, like, number 23,456 in a series. Some people might not enjoy the 1940's atmosphere--where hardened detectives still say things like "Oh my ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perry Mason represents a family who got involved in a hit-and-run accident. Multiple parties surface who claim to be the hit-and-run driver! Clearly something is afoot. Then Mason gets a clue from a shady woman (the title character) with multiple ex-husbands, a suspicious typewriter, and a hot gun. Mason has no interest in representing her, yet when he himself gets accused of being an accessory to the murder of which she is accused, he has no choice! Hijinks ensue, and the reader is quite baffle ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was almost like two cases in one, albiet, one a profitable out of court settlement and other a tricky murder case. Gardner tries very hard to confuse the reader here, but somehow, one suspects the real culprit (at least one of them) much early in the book. An interesting read. I will call it one of the better books in the series.
Kieran McAndrew
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An appeal for witnesses to a hit and run soon lands Perry Mason in the middle of a murder enquiry and he must rely on his sharp wits to eliminate himself as an accessory.

Gardner's writing is witty and, with minor adjustments, Perry Mason could easily be striding confidently into a 21st century courtroom.
Three Novellas (or short novels, I'm not sure) from the forties. Back then Perry Mason was very slick and frequently pushed the limits of the rules to save his innocent clients. These old ones are always a wonderful read.
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mystery. First published in 1949. Nice to have a book with clean language and minimal violence. Good plot twists.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Perry Mason and Della Street! That is all I have to say. This book was classic genius Perry Mason!
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gardner's books are alway fun to read. Fast moving who-dunnits that keep you guessing. This one didn't let me down.
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.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading Gardner's Perry Mason books off and on for many years. Long ago, I was an intense fan of the series, and read them all, at least once. Now, after a lot of water over the dam, I'm looking at them again. I still 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 1950 are the best. This one was written in 1949, in the middle of Gardner's golden a
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read, as always. Gardner is a master storyteller
I re-read this Perry Mason too, and think it could inch up to a 4 star or 3.5.

The female interest is very persuasive and fits her title of the cautious coquette, divorcee Lucille Barton. There is some sexual intrigue here, (she always seems to be taking a shower when people drop by) and clever Perry Mason is out foxed and manipulated by someone, and he takes some terrible risks. This Perry Mason has great back and forth plot twists and an underlying tension that others lack.

Originally starting
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readin2013
I loved, loved, loved this Perry Mason mystery! Paul Drake has placed an ad in several newspapers. He's looking for information about a hit-and-run accident. He receives a letter with a key in it; the anonymous writer assures him that he will find the license plate number for the car in the accident in the desk in the apartment mentioned. The letter even tells him when the apartment will be empty. Drake is extremely suspicious as you might imagine! So, of course, he takes it to Perry Mason. Maso ...more
Per usual some questionable dame comes into Perry's office. Della's female intuition goes off. She warns the boss and he takes the case anyway. Multiple marriages, duping Perry left and right. One thing that makes this novel unique is that Perry doesn't get paid. He writes it off to experience and "live and learn." They've also got Paul Drake's agency on the same floor, and he's always been one floor down from Perry's offices. He's always taking Della out to dinner and making sure they have a so ...more
Dhiraj Sharma
Typical fast moving story of suspense, murder, deceit with the thrilling trio of Mason, Della Street and Paul Drake finally solving this difficult and confusing case from the midst of not so decent characters and culminating with a face off in court with the DA Hamilton Burger.

Mason wins hands down (as he does with all his cases). The story gets a bit convoluted towards the end with so many characters thrown in, however the web gets finally unwrapped in the court and the guilty are apprehended.
Mar 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I'm a sucker for Perry Mason. In my mind a see the Perry Mason and Della Street of the TV series I watched as a child with my grandmother. There is something comforting in the quaint expressions and the sketchy legalities that result in the innocent person going free. How could I turn down a Perry Mason book, albeit coverless, in the "free, please take" box? Incomprehensible!
James Vest
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Would give this a 4.5 stars for Perry Mason being in the hottest water I've ever seen him in. It would be a perfect 5 if there wasn't so many crooked characters who had a hand in the explanation at the end, but the pace of the rising stakes make this one of the best Perry Mason cases I've read, so I will leave this rated as 5 stars.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love these books! One of my favorite TV shows as a kid. This is a complex case with many stories intertwined. It kept me guessing until the end. Always enjoy a brief trip back in time, when you had to use payphones; and stationary and a typewriter could provide clues. Lucky to find one of the original printings. Have not yet read the other 2 stories.
Paul Criscuolo
I'm old enough to remember watching Perry Mason as first run TV shows. Loved them then and loved reading this one. It's just plain fun. Dated? Yes! Sexist? Yes! Biased? Yes! But also just a fun mystery to try and solve!
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ah, another gripping thriller starring the dashing Perry Mason!
Even favorite series have their weak links. The complicated plot leads to a complicated resolution. Perry at his most (legally) underhanded. Beware of people admitting to liability.
Michael P.
Diverting 1949 Perry Mason novel, written early enough in the series to be much more fun than obnoxious.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A typical fast, fun Perry Mason read. It's 1949, and the cars still have running boards. As the action begins, Mason is trying to get a settlement for a collegian injured in an auto accident.
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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

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