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The Case of the Cautious Coquette (Perry Mason Series Book 34) by [Gardner, Erle Stanley]
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The Case of the Cautious Coquette (Perry Mason Series Book 34) Kindle Edition


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Length: 202 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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About the Author

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) is the master of American mystery fiction. A civil rights lawyer, his mysteries contain intricate, ever-twisting plots. Challenging and full of surprises, these are whodunits in the best tradition. He wrote 146 books, 85 of which feature Perry Mason. The fictional attorney became the basis of a number of television series (reputedly 271 episodes), and achieved an enviable record for winning his cases. Erle Stanley Gardner has an amazing sales record: at the height of his popularity in the mid-1960s he was selling an average of 26,000 copies of his novels a day, making him one of the world's best selling author's, easily outstripping at the time Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland combined. Born in Malden, Massachusetts, Gardner went on to attend Law School in Indiana, but this only lasted for around a month, being suspended because of various distractions to his studies, especially boxing. He moved to California and became a self-taught attorney before opening his own law office. However, being bored with this he ended up working in sales for five years. Returning to the law in 1921, he created another law firm, but again was not really enthusiastic, other than when acting as a trial lawyer. Writing was his great passion and eventually he gave up the law completely to pursue a full time writing career. In this he was prodigious, setting himself a target of 66,000 words per week. His output under various pseudonyms, as well as his own, went wider than Perry Mason and also extended to non-fiction. He became an expert on the early Mexican exploitation of California. In later life, law did play a significant part in his life once again. With friends, he set up what they termed 'The Court of Last Resort', aimed at investigating and attempting to reverse what they perceived as miscarriages of justice because of poor legal representation, or evidential problems. Gardner himself once wrote: 'I want to make my hero a fighter, not by having him be ruthless to women and underlings, but by creating a character who, with infinite patience jockeys his enemies into a position where he can deliver one good knockout punch.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 573 KB
  • Print Length: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Della Street Press (2 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008H76674
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,048 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x91c53f1c) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916d5954) out of 5 stars Brilliantly Deceptive 14 Nov. 2003
By Untouchable - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In this case, Perry Mason starts out looking for a witness to a hit-and-run car accident, meets a divorcee who tries to hire him in an alimony suit, eventually unearths two men who admit to being the driver of the car that hit and ran. Then he comes across a body, obviously murdered, lying in the divorcees garage and things start to get really interesting.
Mason has to set up a couple of brilliant deceptions to avoid being implicated in the murder when it looks as though the evidence is beginning to stack up against him - evidence such as his fingerprint on the murder weapon and an eyewitness who saw him at the garage around the time of the murder. Once again, the courtroom scenes are very entertaining as Perry Mason weaves his usual magic, trying to prove himself innocent as well as his client.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x916d596c) out of 5 stars dont shy away 17 Jun. 2013
By Wes Burgess - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
don't shy away from this title because of the one negative review. this is a good perry mason mystery that will keep you guessing about the solution because of multiple plot lines and diverse plot possibilities. like all perry's (and most books of this genre) there is little verbiage wasted on elaborating character -- characterization is done by painting the participants in broad brushstrokes, so the emphasis can be focussed on plot.
this number is every bit as good as the others in this series -- I enjoyed it fully.
HASH(0x916d5c48) out of 5 stars Outsmarted by a Clever Woman? 29 Jun. 2015
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
The Case of the Cautious Coquette

The ‘Foreword’ dedicates this book to parole boards, the perennial underdog in the field of public relations. When a prisoner is released on parole he has to follow rules: reporting to a parole officer, remaining gainfully employed, etc. If he serves his full sentence there is no control over his activities. Failures are publicized, successes are not. Yet increasing inmates without facilities means no space for new inmates. Parole is the reward for any prisoner who shows signs of rehabilitation.

Perry Mason is a lawyer for plaintiffs in a hit-and-run accident case. They post an advertisement for any witness who can identify the speeding black sedan. Perry receives an anonymous typed letter with an address and a key; this letter tells where to look for a description of the license plate. It appears to be a trap. Perry goes to this address, knocks on Lucille Barton's door, and is received by a young woman who disavows all knowledge of the accident. She has been recently with a large alimony, and wants a lawyer who can figure out how she can keep this alimony when she remarries. Perry notes that her stationary and typewriter match the anonymous letter. Later, Perry returns to find a license number in the notebook, and a .38 revolver. He notes the serial number, then traces the license number. Perry then goes to visit the owner of that car, a big black sedan which has recent repairs and repainting. The owner, Stephen Argyle, said his car was stolen earlier that day, but quickly found by the police just about the time he reported it! Now Perry has enough to start his investigation, but Paul Drake must work fast (Chapter 6). Carlotta Boone was in to pick up the reward money, but she had a different story and license number! Could this be a red herring? Perry and Della find the black Packard sedan which has been in a recent accident. The owner confesses to the hit-and-run, then writes out a large check for the injured youth (Chapter 7). Could there be two guilty parties to the same crime?

Perry goes back to question the first source, Lucille Barton. He finds a connection to Stephen Argyle via Lucille's first husband. Perry asks Lucille to leave with him, then they find the body of Hartwell Pitkin, Stephen Argyle's chauffeur and her first husband, shot dead in her garage! Perry tells Lucille to call the police, but she doesn't do it until later. Chapter 12 explains why an accident victim should never sign anything without first checking with their lawyer. When Perry does not get a call from the police, he drives by Lucille's place, and discovers Lucille's double-cross (Chapter 14). Did she outsmart Perry Mason? Did Perry make a mistaken assumption (Chapter 15)? Paul Drake reports about his investigation, and that the police figured out the shooting was a murder. They traced the gun even after serial numbers were ground off. Is Perry Mason involved over his head? Can he save his client as well as himself?

This story has the early version of Perry Mason, part private detective, who sometimes acts just within the letter of the law. The later version of Perry Mason doesn't play fast and loose with the facts (Chapter 22). Perry's plan to take flash photographs at the motel discredits the identification of him (Chapter 25). Perry warns Lucille Barton that she will be found guilty of murder given the facts uncovered so far. The Preliminary Hearing puts the various witnesses on the stand for questioning. There is a recess in the hearing. Perry Mason asks Lt. Tragg to drive to a residence. They see a witness pack a bag then take off; they follow, and the story ends with Perry Mason's client being freed (Chapter 30). The ending tells how and why these murders occurred. [The need for this long explanation reflects the complicated story.]
HASH(0x916d5d2c) out of 5 stars The Complicated Coquette Case 17 Nov. 2014
By henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been reading Gardner's Perry Mason books off and on for many years. Long ago, I was an intense fan of the series, and read them all, at least once. Now, after a lot of water over the dam, I'm looking at them again. I still love the general setting: the characters of Perry, Della, Paul, Lt. Tragg, and Hamilton Burger. That, and the ingenious plots, are why I read Perry Mason.

On the whole, the ones written by 1950 are the best. This one was written in 1949, in the middle of Gardner's golden age of 1940-1950. But I don't like this one very much.

This book opens with Mason and Drake investigatng a hit-and-run car accident. A big black sedan (read wealthy person) had slammed into another car and severely injured a young man, a college student. Mason has taken the case. Drake has posted a notice in the newspapers offering a reward if someone with evidence will come forward. A letter soon arrives, but a strange one. It includes a key to an apartment, and says that a notepad with the desired sedan's license number can be found in the corner of a desk within the apartment, and suggests that someone come by that afternoon around 5:00, just walk in and have a look! It is typed on pink stationery and is unsigned. Mason suspects a trap of some kind -- but of who? How could the mysterious author know who would come to the apartment?

Mason takes the bait, but gets there at 11:00am. He finds a sexy young woman ("coquette") just coming out of the bath. She lets him in, having recognized the name Perry Mason. She claims total ignorance of the car accident. Mason notes a desk, as described in his letter, a typewriter, and the same pink stationery. But the desk is locked. As they talk, she tries to interest Mason in her own problem, involving alimony. She has been married and divorced twice, and has been getting a lot of alimony from the second husband. Now she wants to marry yet again but is "cautious" about the alimony and its effect on the new husband. He listens for a while and decides she must have seen the notice in the newspaper and written the letter herself as an elaborate ruse to get him to come to her apartment. But how could she have known he was involved in the case, since the newspaper ad did not mention any lawyer? Odd.

He leaves. But later that afternoon, incredibly, a second letter typed on the same stationery arrives and now contains the key to the desk! Now what? Just then the young woman, Lucille Barton, shows up at his office with an older male friend! They again claim to know nothing of the hit and run accident. Mason gets them to write out and sign a statement, while he takes the keys, dashes out to her apartment, unlocks the desk, finds the promised notepad -- and a gun -- and jots down the license number written there.

He traces the license number and confronts the wealthy owner, a Mr. Argyle, who says his car (a big black sedan) was stolen the day of the accident. It shows some body damage. As he and Drake start an intense investigation of him and his chauffer, incredibly, a second young woman arrives with a different license number! How bizarre is that? Soon Mason follows that lead and finds another recently damaged black sedan! Before long both car owners, unbeknownst to the other, have paid a settlement for the injured young man.

The plot thickens as we learn that Argyle's chauffer is Lucille Barton's first husband. Soon there are two murders, one of which was committed by the gun Mason touched in the desk. Lucille is arrested and Perry feels he must take her case.

There is excellent interaction with Sgt. Holcomb, whom Mason gets the better of in a clever (mis)identification ruse necessitated by Mason and Lucille being seen at her garage. There are very good courtroom scenes with Hamilton Burger. There is good use of Lt. Tragg.

All of the above is good and puzzling, but the ultimate resolution of the crimes is not. The identification of the murderer was not a big surprise. It's one of the books where some people act in ways that seem just too complicated to be real. The final explanation of all the murderer's actions is complicated and unreal.

I cannot recommmend this one very much.

Recurring themes: opening with a car accident investigation, as in The Crooked Candle. Oil men and oil leases as in The Crooked Candle. Some key events involving a car in a garage are also in The Crooked Candle. Indeed there are strong similarities between this one and The Crooked Candle; the latter is better. Two letters arriving to solve one question occurs early in The Lazy Lover also.
HASH(0x916d71e0) out of 5 stars Outsmarted by a Clever Woman? 13 Mar. 2013
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
The Case of the Cautious Coquette, Erle Stanley Gardner

The `Foreword' dedicates this book to parole boards, the perennial underdog in the field of public relations. When a prisoner is released on parole he has to follow rules: reporting to a parole officer, remaining gainfully employed, etc. If he serves his full sentence there is no control over his activities. Failures are publicized, successes are not. Yet increasing inmates without facilities means no space for new inmates. Parole is the reward for any prisoner who shows signs of rehabilitation.

Perry Mason is a lawyer for plaintiffs in a hit-and-run accident case. They post an advertisement for any witness who can identify the speeding black sedan. Perry receives an anonymous typed letter with an address and a key; this letter tells where to look for a description of the license plate. It appears to be a trap. Perry goes to this address, knocks on Lucille Barton's door, and is received by a young woman who disavows all knowledge of the accident. She has been recently with a large alimony, and wants a lawyer who can figure out how she can keep this alimony when she remarries. Perry notes that her stationary and typewriter match the anonymous letter. Later, Perry returns to find a license number in the notebook, and a .38 revolver. He notes the serial number, then traces the license number. Perry then goes to visit the owner of that car, a big black sedan which has recent repairs and repainting. The owner, Stephen Argyle, said his car was stolen earlier that day, but quickly found by the police just about the time he reported it! Now Perry has enough to start his investigation, but Paul Drake must work fast (Chapter 6). Carlotta Boone was in to pick up the reward money, but she had a different story and license number! Could this be a red herring? Perry and Della find the black Packard sedan which has been in a recent accident. The owner confesses to the hit-and-run, then writes out a large check for the injured youth (Chapter 7). Could there be two guilty parties to the same crime?

Perry goes back to question the first source, Lucille Barton. He finds a connection to Stephen Argyle via Lucille's first husband. Perry asks Lucille to leave with him, then they find the body of Hartwell Pitkin, Stephen Argyle's chauffeur and her first husband, shot dead in her garage! Perry tells Lucille to call the police, but she doesn't do it until later. Chapter 12 explains why an accident victim should never sign anything without first checking with their lawyer. When Perry does not get a call from the police, he drives by Lucille's place, and discovers Lucille's double-cross (Chapter 14). Did she outsmart Perry Mason? Did Perry make a mistaken assumption (Chapter 15)? Paul Drake reports about his investigation, and that the police figured out the shooting was a murder. They traced the gun even after serial numbers were ground off. Is Perry Mason involved over his head? Can he save his client as well as himself?

This story has the early version of Perry Mason, part private detective, who sometimes acts just within the letter of the law. The later version of Perry Mason doesn't play fast and loose with the facts (Chapter 22). Perry's plan to take flash photographs at the motel discredits the identification of him (Chapter 25). Perry warns Lucille Barton that she will be found guilty of murder given the facts uncovered so far. The Preliminary Hearing puts the various witnesses on the stand for questioning. There is a recess in the hearing. Perry Mason asks Lt. Tragg to drive to a residence. They see a witness pack a bag then take off; they follow, and the story ends with Perry Mason's client being freed (Chapter 30). The ending tells how and why these murders occurred. [The need for this long explanation reflects the complicated story.]
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