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The Case of the Velvet Claws (Perry Mason Series Book 1) by [Gardner, Erle Stanley]
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The Case of the Velvet Claws (Perry Mason Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 261 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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About the Author

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) is a prolific American author best known for his works centered on the lawyer-detective Perry Mason. At the time of his death in March of 1970, in Ventura, California, Gardner was "the most widely read of all American writers" and "the most widely translated author in the world," according to social historian Russell Nye. The first Perry Mason novel, The Case of The Velvet Claws, published in 1933, had sold twenty-eight million copies in its first fifteen years. In the mid-1950s, the Perry Mason novels were selling at the rate of twenty thousand copies a day. There have been six motion pictures based on his work and the hugely popular Perry Mason television series starring Raymond Burr, which aired for nine years and 271 episodes.

As author William F. Nolan notes, "Gardner, more than any other writer, popularized the law profession for a mass-market audience, melding fact and fiction to achieve a unique blend; no one ever handled courtroom drama better than he did."

Richard Senate further sums up the significance of Gardner?s contribution: "Although the character of Perry Mason is not unique as a 'lawyer-sleuth,' he is the first to come to anyone's mind when it comes to sheer brilliance in solving courtroom-detective cases by rather unconventional means. Besides 'Tarzan,' 'Sherlock Holmes,' 'Superman' ? 'Perry Mason' qualifies as an American icon of popular culture in the twentieth century."

Gardner's writing has touched a lot of people including a number of high profile figures. Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill say in their 1987 book, The Perry Mason TV Show Book that Harry S. Truman was a fan and that it is rumored that when Einstein died, a Perry Mason book was at his bedside. They further describe that when Raymond Burr met Pope John XXIII, the actor reported that the pontiff "seemed to know all about Perry Mason." Federal judge Sonya Sotomayor frequently mentions how Perry Mason was one of her earliest influences.

Starting with his first book, Gardner had a very definite vision of the shape the Perry Mason character would take:

"I want to make my hero a fighter," he wrote to his publisher, "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: 545 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Della Street Press (27 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005QE7XPK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #227,587 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

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Since I read this book for the first time I've been hooked on Perry Mason and would recommend not just this book but the entire series
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a good read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 136 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars this book is a good, solid read 22 Sept. 2016
By R. Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Perry Mason as a character (television, film, radio show) and I've read excerpts from the original novel stories in mystery magazines in the past. I decided to dive in and read through the original texts from the beginning and of course started with this title! As a long-time lover of literary writing, I always have to adjust my response to pulp or entertainment fiction, knowing its ultimate intent, so I treat it more gently than something more philosophical or social theory oriented. With that said, this book is a good, solid read. The writing is clean, simple, straightforward (suggests Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch style), and delivers the character with an unapologetic, unbending stare. I appreciate Mason's professionalism and that the book doesn't fall into the typical, cheeseball pulp language of other novels from the same era. Instead, it's highly readable, enjoyable, and not goofy or cheesy in any way. It's an excellent introduction to the main characters that populate Gardner's world, and for those familiar with the television adaptation, this novel introduces Drumm instead of Tragg, who appeared during later seasons. It's reasonably paced (steady, direct, not flashy, not too dull, not sappy) and it's a quick read, really. Gardener is an economical, no-nonsense writer, and he provides everything you need to know to solve the crime parallel to Mason. I might have liked more action, but I was not disappointed. Planning to continue the series.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If all you know is the sanitized TV version of Perry Mason, you're in for a surprise! 11 Dec. 2014
By Whistlers Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This (the first of Gardner's long-running series) appeared in 1933 and he didn't hit his stride for another ten years. It's worth a read because we see Perry before his creator had shaken off the dust of the "Pulps" and gone legit. The chain-smoking lawyer in this book is as hard-boiled as any character from Hammett or Chandler. He operates outside the establishment and lives by the code that his clients deserve his best efforts, even when they try to frame him for murder.

The theme of the beautiful dame who needs help, but who keeps creating more trouble for herself (and Perry) is one of Gardner's favorites and he returned to it often. There's a murder (of course) and corrupt business tycoons and charming wastrel heirs and phoney politicians and hard-eyed girls on the take. Secretary-Extraordinaire Della Street gives sage advice and service above-and-beyond the call of duty. Paul Drake and his operatives pull off some fine gumshoe work. And in the end (working with the surprisingly cooperative police) Perry nails the murderer.

But it's the denouement that will leave any true Perry Mason fan gasping for breath. What a shame Perry and Della had to become so damned 1950's respectable. They could have made beautiful music.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the beginning . . . 1 May 2014
By Name Not Found - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Case of the Velvet Claws begins slowly, introducing readers to a long-lasting series that set the standard for courtroom drama . . . although Perry Mason never makes it into the courtroom in his debut novel. Instead, he uses his legal wits to keep his client -- and himself -- out of court altogether.

As a reader, it's important to remember that fashions come and go in writing as in all things. In the early 1930s, it was more common to begin with the detailed description Erle Stanley Gardner provides of Mason, his confidential secretary Della Street and detective Paul Drake than with a snappy sentence or a compelling scene. It's also important to realize that Mason, Street and Drake will become much more polished as the years and the cases add up . . . this is not the savvy advocate of the television series or the later novels but the gritty defender more common in pulp fiction. Della is not yet the constant companion she will become, but the suggestion of romance is stronger here than later, when it is implied but never addressed.

Perry's client is pure poison -- a gold digger who manipulates men, or tries to do so, as a matter of course. We aren't supposed to like her. Instead, our sympathy is given to Perry, who seems to have found himself clutched in this claws, despite Della's deep dislike for the dame. This early in their relationship, Della doesn't have the confidence in him he craves (and will later receive), and Della is afraid he's fallen hook, line and sinker for the woman's lies. No fear. Mason is Mason, even if an earlier, rougher sketch of the legal eagle loved by millions of fans over many generations.

I grew up reading Gardner's Perry Mason series, although I never found this one. I am delighted to add it to my collection, more for its place as the first of my first than for the story itself. The series certainly gets better and better, yet I have enjoyed every one of the cases I've read, including this one. I was able to pick it up at a discounted price.

If you've never read Gardener's Perry Mason novels, this isn't necessarily the place to start. Others are more compelling reads, more typical of the television series starring Raymond Burr, who, to many readers, will always BE the one and only Perry Mason. But it isn't a bad place to begin, either, because, even in the beginning, Mason has the shrewd legal mind that cuts through the lies to find the real culprit and allow justice to triumph.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS 12 Feb. 2017
By PAUL EDELSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
4.0 out of 5 stars My first Perry Mason novel and his first case. 12 May 2017
By Neal Patterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since my only experience with Perry Mason was vague memories of the TV show, I decided to read some of the novels and I figured it made sense to start at the beginning. I was surprised by the coarseness of the characters, especially Mason himself who seems more like a high-priced fixer than a champion of the wrongly-accused. The story moves along at a rapid clip with only the pertinent details provided and none of the digressions into unnecessary back story that I find with most modern mysteries/thrillers. Having read other Gardner books, I was prepared for his rather clunky style and focused mainly on the story. As a mystery, it's a solid effort with plenty of twists and turns.
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