cover image I DREAMED I MARRIED PERRY MASON: A Cece Caruso Mystery


Susan Kandel, . . Morrow, $23.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-06-058105-3

All former Jersey beauty queen Cece Caruso really wants to do is finish her biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, "creator of the brilliant, unflappable Perry Mason," but in art journalist Kandel's entertaining, often witty debut, she must contend with a few distractions, including murder. Once he became a famous writer, Gardner for a while took on "hopeless cases." In the Gardner archives, Cece stumbles across a misfiled 1958 letter from Joseph Albacco, who had recently been convicted and imprisoned for murdering his wife. Claiming his innocence, Albacco begged Gardner to intervene and track down the real killer, but the author never did. Intrigued, Cece is determined to find the truth in a scenario complicated enough to challenge Perry Mason himself, and soon finds herself involved in a fresh murder linked to the long-ago crime. Meanwhile, she worries about her daughter Annie, whose marriage seems about to implode, and never misses a chance to add to her sizeable collection of vintage clothing. Though the denouement is a bit over-the-top, readers should give Cece a warm welcome to the legion of perky female sleuths. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (June 1)

Forecast: The words "Perry Mason" in the title are sure to attract older browsers who fondly remember the popular TV show starring Raymond Burr, not to mention Gardner fans. Blurbs from Carolyn Hart and Rochelle Krich won't hurt.