Originally Posted by WT Sharpe
It wasn't until zelda_pinwheel mentioned Perry Mason that I even thought of him for some reason, perhaps because television has conditioned me to think of him in association with "courtroom drama" rather that as a first class sleuth.
I love the Perry Mason stories, and despite how good how good a job Raymond Burr and company did with the TV show, the books are far superior. In them, Erle Stanley Gardner's creation did things he could never have gotten away with on TV, especially in the earlier stories. Mason always had a keen sense of justice, but his strict adherence to legal niceties insofar as his clients' interests were concerned was often, shall we say, somewhat flexible. In at least one instance (The Case of the Counterfeit Eye), he even intentionally planted fabricated evidence to help his client, only to have it blow up in his face.
In a Doonsbury strip, Al Gore once asked then sitting president Bill Clinton, "Why don't people like me?" Clinton told Gore it was because he was too intelligent. When Gore replied that Clinton was also intelligent but that people liked him, Clinton replied, "Yes, but I do stupid things."
In the books, there were almost always two mysteries to solve. One, of course, was "Who is the murderer?" The other was how Mason was going to get out of the hole he had dug for himself by pulling some bonehead maneuver that put him at risk of being disbarred while in pursuit of that murderer.
Perry Mason. One of the greats!
if you like perry mason you should definitely try the Donald Lam mysteries by "A.A. Fair" ; that's actually an ESG pseudonym. different detective, but similar "creative" approach to problem solving, and similar "how is he going to get himself out of this one" secondary mystery in each book. they're often really funny, too.