Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Perry Mason Mystery: The Case Of The Queenly Contestant

Image from Goodreads
Title: The Case Of The Queenly Contestant
Author: Erle Stanley Gardner

In this classic Perry Mason mystery, Mason is faced with the case of a woman who wants to reveal absolutely nothing to him, but badgers him with legal questions.

Ellen Adair, a woman with an air of a Queen, visits Perry Mason with an earnest doubt about her right to privacy and when it may be considered as violated. When asked by the lawyer what her situation was, she decides to be vague and ambiguous, and requests Mason to just advise her on her queries. In a pique of interest, Mason does a background check on the queenly lady.

Ellen Adair was a contestant and had bagged the first prize in a local beauty contest that happened twenty years before. After her prestigious win, there seemed to have been many offers for her from Hollywood. She went looking for opportunities, but never came back to her town. There were rumours that Ellen had an illegitimate child with the son of a rich business tycoon.

Now, the local newspaper wants to run a column on her titled ‘Where Are They Now?’, but Ellen Adair is more than determined to remain anonymous. In a sudden turn of events, after a few days, Ellen Adair comes barging into Mason’s office with the exact opposite request, because the death of the man she had an affair with leads to the possibility of a multimillion dollar inheritance for her son. She wants the whole world to know the rumours about her illegitimate son, and also wants to have it proved.

With a simple set of queries turning into a murder case, every turn of the page, every chapter has a lie countering a fact, and Perry is forced to do some sleuthing and uncovering of the woman’s tale in order to save her from conviction for murder, because every word of Ellen Adair is a calculated lie until the very end.

The story with so many unexpected twists and turns and bumps, leave you wondering how such a solid mess could be sorted even by Perry. As a slight off-shoot from the regular Perry Mason mysteries, Perry relies on evidence, logic and his gut feeling rather than the usual skillful courtroom gimmicks that he pulls to wrap up the case successfully.

It was an unputdownable read that kept me on the edge wondering where it’s going before a straight-forward court scene revealed a classic Gardner-style ending.

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