cover image The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe

The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe

Erle Stanley Gardner. Penzler, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61316-285-9

This fine Perry Mason whodunit from Gardner (1889–1970) opens with the legendary L.A. defense attorney and his assistant, Della Street, taking refuge in a department store from a downpour and witnessing a security guard’s attempts to arrest elderly Sarah Breel for shoplifting. The lawyer successfully intervenes, noting that even had Sarah moved items from one part of the store to another, she had not yet tried to leave with them without paying. Mason’s efforts earn the gratitude of Sarah’s niece, Virginia Trent, who later confides, to Mason’s surprise, that she did believe her aunt was planning to shoplift. Furthermore, Virginia suspects Sarah of stealing valuable diamonds that were entrusted to Virginia’s uncle, George Trent, a gem expert. After Mason agrees to look into the matter, he winds up investigating multiple murders that Sarah’s accused of committing. In court, Mason displays his usual brilliant cross-examination skills as the action builds to a highly satisfying climax. Gardner’s cleverness and mastery of trial details are amply on display in this entry in the American Mystery Classics series. (Apr.)