Friday, March 9, 2012

The Case of the Amorous Aunt by Erle Stanley Gardner

Linda Calhoun is afraid for her Aunt, Loraine Elmore. Linda thinks that her aunt is at that foolish age of 48 where people are often impetuous and do things extempore. So, Linda along with her boyfriend approach the famous criminal lawyer Perry Mason and tells him that her Aunt has run off with a dangerous and quirky sort of a fellow who might murder her for her money. Mason and his detective friend Paul Drake trace down the amorous aunt but it turns out that instead of the Aunt getting murdered the ignoble and beguiling boyfriend has been murdered.

The Local DA and the police now wants to prosecute the Aunt, who they believe that she seemingly under the effect of drugs murdered her boyfriend . Perry Mason gets entangled in the case of the Amorous Aunt.


Erle Stanley Gardner sold around 300 million copies and Perry Mason became a household name in that time. I'm sure if he wrote more novels like this one his multi-million selling numbers would have been much less.

The book starts to look poor in the very first chapters because when Linda asks Mason for help to protect her Aunt from getting murdered a) It is not backed by sufficient reasoning as to why Linda feels her Aunt will be murdered or
b) why she feels that her Aunt being whimsical  is dangerous. She is after all an adult and can choose to be whoever she wants to be with.
c) Has Perry Mason the great criminal lawyer fallen into such destitution that he has to now run after women who are more interested in Carnal Desires then baby sitting their nieces and their leech boyfriends?

The Author just throws a really silly situation and wants Mason to pick it up from there. There was no apparent reason for Mason to take a flight to catch the Amorous Aunt and her boyfriend, then sit on the border and watch out for their car, then have men deployed all over the place to look for them and all sort of silly non sense.

I would have thrown the book had there not been a murder on page 61. After that things start to pick up a little and by little I mean just a little. The only redeeming part of the book were the last 40 pages where Gardner gets into his element and takes the reader through an exciting court room battle between the DA and Mason. One part where Mason malevolently rips into an insolent witness is very enjoyable.

The book is not really a proper mystery. It has almost no clues for the reader to work on and only leaves the reader to do guess work as who the murderer could be. Gardner just throws the least likely suspect in the last two pages and pins the murder on him/her(it's a spoiler free blog can't even reveal the sex of the murderer), and the murderer makes the amateur mistake of leaving finger prints at the scene of the crime. This is not a thought provoking or use your brain book. I cannot believe this was written by the same man who wrote the case of the crooked candle.

2 Stars.


  1. I must take issue with the above review. A careful reader will note that Mason does not take the case for the very reasons the above reviewer objected to. It is only after Drake finds evidence of the duplicity of Montrose Dewitt (you gotta love those crazy names!) that perhaps Linda Calhoun's suspicions are plausible. It is only after Perry realizes that the aunt may truly be in danger that he jumps into action.
    The courtroom scene, as acknowledged above, is a knockout as the arrogant local attorney boasts that Perry can "cross-examine to his heart's content". Due to his grandstanding the judge allows Perry to do just that! A terrific read if you like Perry Mason. 5 Stars!

    1. hi,

      well at least we agree on something, the courtroom scene is in fact a knockout! but I still think that Gardner could have come up with more convincing material.