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The Case of the Drowning Duck

(Perry Mason #20)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  762 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A dead man in the kitchen, gas fumes permeates the house, a duck seem to be drowning in the fishbowl, but it didn't die. Maybe that fact has something to do with murder?
Mass Market Paperback, 244 pages
Published 1950 by Pocket Books (first published 1942)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  762 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perry Mason escaped from the city to take a break from work only to meet a rich guy who wanted to consult him professionally. The guy's daughter decided to marry a young fellow who literally knows nothing about his origins. By hiring detectives his prospective father-in-law found out the father of his relative in the making was executed eighteen years ago for murder. Now Mason's client wanted the lawyer to look through the trial transcript to check if the verdict was fair. After studying the pap ...more
I picked this up as a Kindle ebook and Amazon has a number of Erle Stanley Gardner books available. I loved the old TV series with Raymond Burr and the slightly newer ones featuring a much older Raymon Burr. I like that the ebook format is allowing us to revisit a lot of older authors. I am sometimes disappointed as I was with Leslie Charteris "Enter the Saint". Often these older novels just don't stand the test of time but that isn't the case here. Yes, the world has changed since the time this ...more
Rod Innis
I used to watch Perry Mason on TV, both the old and new series. I enjoyed those programs so when I saw one of the books by Erle Stanley Gardner that were the source of the TV shows at a used bookstore, I decided to read it. I see that Gardner wrote over 80 Perry Mason books between 1933 and 1973. I have no plans to read them all but I did enjoy this story and so plan to read at least a couple more. I may see if I can find the first and the last in the series. The one I have just finished was qu ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I got confused with this one, the plotline was a good one but the ending and the reveal was poor.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-drama
I picked up a bunch of old Perry Mason mysteries and thought I’d try one. I fondly remember reading several when I was a kid and they hold up well. There are the usual archaic references to contemporary technology, and one very jarring reference to a Red River Valley in California where there were large cotton farms. That was a bit ungeographical. Not to mention the constant cigarette smoking . It was just a given that everyone smoked. And women were to be good-looking and useful.

Nevertheless, i
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Shelves: mystery, other-usa, 2011
This was a quick and intriguing read. I've only read a few books in the Erle Stanley Gardner. It was an interesting story and although it was written almost 70 years ago, it seems almost timeless. I thought the description of "detergent" was very funny, however, considering the advances of technology in our cleaning materials. Overall it was a very entertaining story and was perfect for a long flight home.

interesting quote:
"Every man who has lived enough to be more than a stuffed shirt, has a c
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Ah, I needed this one. From the Palm Springs start (in 1942 - the same year my mom graduated from Palm Springs High!) to the shenanigans in El Templo (hi, El Centro!), this was a wonderfully nostalgic read for me. The characters were great, the mystery was a mystery right up to the grand unveiling, and Della Street continues to be a Boss.

And on another note, town names in the Perry Mason books continue to befuddle me. Palm Springs is Palm Springs, but El Centro is El Templo? Like Santa Monica i
Mark Stratton
Just another atypical typical Perry Mason story. Courtroom hysterics, more suspects than you can shake a duck at, and a duck that sinks.

It is interesting to read a book, set in the present at the time of its writing that is instructive of new developments that we take for granted today. Detergents were something relatively new at the time, and not referred to in the same fashion as we would consider them today.

And there was a drowning duck....sort of.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is fun, more complicated than many of the Perry Mason predecessors but also with a touch of humor. For instance, Perry finds observing a ocurt case in which he is not the attorney is "a trying experience." And the drowning duck motif is amusing, and taught me that detergents were invented in the early 1940's. Who knew?

There are the usual problems -- all the women are sexy and attractive, for instance, even when they are not in their twenties,and Della and Perry may or may not have a rom
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This exactly scratched the Pulp Hero craving I had. It never slows down. Perry Mason is bigger than life, and always working angles that no one else sees. I thought his would be unreadable, but it flies by and never crossed the line of reality that would kick me out of the story. Does the mystery hang together? I have no idea. I'm reading it for the style and a glimpse into a long gone age of fiction and history. I got exactly what I wanted, hence the five stars. The overall attitude towards wom ...more
Robert Rawls
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quintessential Perry Mason!

Gardener proves why he is the world's most read writer! An astute observer of humankind and a love for justice as can be meted out in a framework of the American judicial system sums up the story in broad strokes. All the players in this almost real life drama are brought to life flawlessly. I was figuring the touch of the drowning duck would be gimmicky but Gardener uses it for some lessons in Chemistry as well as an interesting pivotal point! Masterful and compelling
Stephen Osborne
Not one of the best Perry Masons. The interesting thing here is that Mason isn't the defense attorney in the case, at least at first. Of course, when he joins the team, he takes over completely. It's also interesting that Mason meddles with evidence, and this nearly lands him in trouble. Only some fast talk and some fast thinking allows him to avoid probable arrest. The main trouble here, though, is the convoluted solution to the crime. Goodness, it made my head spin.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The end of this case was one part predictable and one part unpredictable. Considering, this is another book where Mason solves two cases simultaneously, it is also one where he gets out of a very tricky place purely using his ingenuity! A fast paced, crisp thriller, which keeps you gripped till the very end.
Cathy Houston
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cathy by:
great Perry Mason story
James Vest
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dizzying array of characters along with three murders turns this mystery into a full-fledged Rubik Cube, whose solving is equally interesting and exhausting.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had forgotten how good Erle Stanley Gardner really is.
Interesting, real-seeming, characters. Fast pace. Lots of action. A great puzzle. I enjoyed this book a lot.
Stephen C Meisel
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything you like about Mason

Good book based on a crazy premise. A duck that can't swim. I've read other Mason mysteries but like this one more. Has some of the usual law skirting antics. Lots of work for the Drake detective agency and of course Della keeps it all together. You won't be disappointed.
Whistlers Mom
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but is it the SAME duck?

Erle Stanley Gardner was a rugged outdoorsman who objected to the stereotype of the attorney as a four-eyed wimp hiding behind his law books. In this book we see Perry Mason riding a horse and changing a tire. We also learn that he puts on clean underwear after he bathes. I think that using the words "granite hard" and "underwear" in the same paragraph is pushing the envelope, but Perry IS a man of action and he and Della ARE o
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Drowning Duck is my second Mason, although a much earlier story than my prior. My first foray was a latter Gardner from the sixties, while this was written in ’42. My one comment about Mason still stands from my last review…why are people so enamored with a Lawyer. Okay, different time and place. Newspapers were certainly more relevant for getting news as opposed to TV, hence you are likely to be more up on local versus national/world news. As such, local court cases would get more face time ...more
Vitasta Chaturvedi
"I am working for a blind woman. They carve her image on courthouses. She has a pair of scales in one hand and a sword in the other. They call her Justice, and she is the one I am working for, right at the moment."

An amazing reply by Perry Mason to his client when tries to implies that he is employed by him.
This time again Mason won't let case and clues come to him, even if the case is 18 years old.
Whiterspoon, an arrogant father asks Mason to investigate an old case involving the father of hi
Absolutely brilliant! This is a perfect example of how unexpected twists and turns can happen! What caught my attention was the title of the book and how can it ever be related to a murder?! The first 100 pages wasnt that interesting and i took almost 3 days to finish it. The last 100 was completed in one go ! Trust me , it kept me glued. By the time i finished, i was like , what ??

The client, Mr. Witherspoon is a rich business man who considers Family as his priority. He has a daughter Lois, wh
Sometimes Gardner likes to love things to the Southwest, or at least out in the California mountains and desert towns. Eventually, everyone makes their way back to L.A. but in this case, the trial takes place in one of those small towns. Lately, I've been readiing Gardner books where multiple wives or girlfriends are in the picture. There's a war coming. It's 1942 and the younger generation are feeling the effects of their future sacrifice. Having read past the 1940's I can say that Gardner skip ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal
#20 in the Perry Mason series. This humerous entry has the distinction of being the only mystery I'm aware of to use a surfactant as a major plot element. Perry winds up juggling timetables and ducks.

Perry Mason series - Wealthy John L. Witherspoon hires Perry Mason to delve into a twenty-year-old murder case in order to prove that the young man Witherspoon's daughter intends to marry has homicidal impulses in his genes.
Content - This is how a mystery should be - lots of twists and turns and complicated details muddying things up and a dizzying list of possible suspects.

Mechanics - The writing is not amazing but it passes very well.

Squeaky Clean? - Murders and affairs and such are only referred to not dwelt on or described. A few bad words.
May 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The first Perry Mason I didn't particularly enjoy. Part of the problem is that the whole case is about Mason investigating events that occurred twenty years earlier, so we lack the famous courtroom drama.
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's 1942, the United States is sending young men to war, and a "detergent" is a newfangled chemical handy for parlor tricks. Perry Mason even then was a headstrong man of action and justice was his quest.
Pari Rajulu
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book which I have started and finished the same day within a span of 8hrs with a few breaks in between. The story was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the plot unfolds. Glad to have picked this up.
Oct 01, 2016 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.
Rijo John
Nice and the usual stuff we expect.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So how do you drown a duck without touching it? Perry Mason explains that there are actually two ways to do it in this fascinating novel.
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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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