Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Case of the Careless Kitten: Review

In The Case of the Careless Kitten Perry Mason is once again doing his level best to get his client declared "Not Guilty"...the difference is, this time his client is Della Street!

Ten years ago Helen Kendal's uncle and town banker, Franklin Shore, disappeared.  He left behind a vindictive wife, a financially unsound brother, and a niece who loved....as well as a very healthy bank account.  His wife Matilda insists that he ran off with some floozie and refuses to believe he might be dead--mostly because she doesn't want to give up control of all his assets.  If he were to be declared legally dead, she'd have to give up $20,000 apiece to Helen and Franklin's brother Gerald.

But then Helen receives a phone call from a man claiming to be Uncle Franklin.  He tells her things that only her uncle should know and insists that she  "Contact Perry Mason" and bring him with her to meet him.  But Uncle Franklin is using an awfully circuitous route to get her to him.  She & Mason are to meet a man named Leech who will then bring them to meet Franklin Shore.

Before Helen can contact Mason, her kitten, Amber Eyes--one minute gay and playful,  is taken with horrible spasms and it is discovered that the poor kitten has been poisoned  From there things get interesting...there's Uncle Gerald's strange behavior...The finding of the body of a man assumed to be Leech in that lonely spot
...Aunt Matilda's insistence that Helen marry--not the soldier she loved, but the man her aunt prefers...the attempted poisoning of Aunt Matilda....the shooting of Helen's soldier boy...and the mysterious comings and goings of the gardener, Lunk.

Once Mason gets involved, Police Lieutenant Tragg and the D.A. are after him in earnest. Mason discovers the whereabouts of a vital witness and sends Della ahead to track him down.  By the time Tragg and company show up, the man they want is gone.  And then they decide to arrest Della for "hiding a critical witness or possible murder suspect."  They think they've got the lawyer cold this time, but Mason forces a speedy trial and proves Della's innocence with the help of the Careless Kitten.  Oh, and incidentally figures out what really happened in the case of the missing uncle, what was behind the poisoning, and who really shot who.

This is solid Perry Mason with the usual twists and surprise at the end. I enjoyed it very much.  The most intriguing thing about the book was having Della on the hot seat.  Mason initially takes on Gerald Shore as a client--but then really isn't needed much to defend him.  He has to spend his energy defending his own secretary in court.  I do wonder how that would really work out in life.  Would a lawyer be allowed to defend his employee in court? Particularly if he could be called as a witness against her? (Not that D.A. Burger even tries to call Mason as a witness against Della--but I would think he could have.) Three and a half stars.


Ryan said...

Love these books, and I love Perry and Della as a team.

Gypsi said...

I read my first Gardner this month and really enjoyed it. I'm glad they are still available!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I thought I'd read every Perry Mason and then this one comes along. Thanks for reviewing this book. I'll be looking for it.

Mallika@ LiteraryPotpourri said...

I loved how complicated this one was, though I do remember reading over the explanation just to confirm I understood it correctly.