cover image The Case of the Careless Kitten

The Case of the Careless Kitten

Erle Stanley Gardner. Penzler, $25.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-61316-116-6

Originally published in 1942, this Perry Mason novel from the prolific Gardner (1889–1970) races along at breakneck speed. One morning, 24-year-old Helen Kendal receives a phone call from her uncle, banker Franklin Shore, who disappeared 10 years earlier under mysterious circumstances. Franklin asks her to call on Perry that afternoon and arrange for the lawyer to meet him at a cheap hotel that evening. She’s to tell no one about their call, especially not his wife, Matilda, who has never given up the hope that Franklin was still alive. Helen has need of Perry’s services for herself after she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a man with whom she has no apparent connection. The poisoning of Helen’s kitten supplies a vital clue. Gardner provides eccentric characters, complex motives, and—as always—a delicately nuanced presentation of the special relationship between Perry and his faithful secretary, Della Street. Notwithstanding a few references to “Japs,” this reissue in the American Mystery Classics series will appeal to a new generation of readers. [em](Mar.) [/em]