#1954Club time—what fun! I started joining in for Kaggsy and Simon’s club reads since last year and find them so much fun; a great way to explore books published in a year and also discover numerous new books and authors (and make some new blogging friends as well).

When 1954 was first picked, I found it a truly rich year in terms of options, and ones that appealed too, in fact so much so that it’s been hard narrowing down possible choices and picking some. Unlike the last club (#1976Club) when I had at least two of my reviews done in advance, I haven’t this time, so only will be positing during the week. There are some 1954 books that I have read before and did not pick to revisit for this week, which include

Read and reviewed (reviews are linked to the title):

Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie

The Dancing Bear by Frances Faviell

Half Magic by Edward Eager

Read but not reviewed:

According to the Evidence by Henry Cecil

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkein

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P. G. Wodehouse

Also plenty of Enid Blytons, of which time permitting, I hope to read one that I don’t think I’ve read before and that is calling to me.

I am also not reading The Horse and His Boy and will just read it next week for Chris’s #Narniathon21.

I found these club reads so enjoyable that I convinced my mom, Nira, to also join in tis time so, to kick off the week, I’m sharing the first of her picks, The Case of the Restless Redhead by Erle Stanley Gardner, below (the review and pictures are all from her). She doesn’t have a blog so I’ll be sharing her reviews, tagged Guest Post, for the rest of the week here, and also link her Goodreads cross-post to each. Alongside, I’ll share my reviews as I’m ready.

****************

Renowned attorney Perry Mason, takes a short break from his Los Angeles office and drives over to small town Riverside to get Judge Dillard’s signature on a document. Arriving early, he enters the Courtroom, where a young and obviously nervous defence attorney is being tied up in knots by a supercilious witness. When the Judge declares a recess, the attorney, Frank Neely rushes over to meet Mason, and confesses that he is getting nowhere with his very first court-assigned case. Taking pity on the youth, Mason gives him tips on how to handle such difficult witnesses. The defendant in question, is an out of work waitress Evelyn Bagby, making her way to Hollywood in the hopes of an acting career. When her old jalopy breaks down and she stays at a motel awaiting repairs, she is spotted opening the boot of another parked car. The jewelry stacked in the car belonged to starlet Helen Cheyney, on her way to her third wedding with big businessman Mervyn Aldrich. The jewelry disappears, and one single piece, a bracelet is found in the room occupied by the defendant.

 To Mason’s delight, the morning newspaper features Frank Neely’s amazing defence, and the release of the defendant, as the sole eyewitness was routed. Then, unexpectedly, in walks Evelyn, who has learnt of Mason’s role in her release. Penniless and now with a police record to boot, she is in a major fix and turns to Mason for assistance. Her story is a common one, that of a small-town girl losing her inheritance to a trickster posing as a Hollywood scout, now finally making one last attempt at reaching her Mecca, and fulfilling her cherished dream. She also adds that while leafing through a film magazine at the motel, she saw a picture of Steve Merrill, Helen Chaney’s second husband and he looked to her like Staunton Gladden, the man who had skipped with her money.

Mason calls up his old friend Joe Padena, who runs a restaurant high up in the hills overlooking Hollywood, which is frequented by many of the top stars, and gets Evelyn a job as a waitress with immediate effect.  Perry is not surprised to receive a visit from Irene Keith, Helen’s bridesmaid and Aldrich who offer 1000 dollars as compensation for Evelyn, but he refuses to accept it on a hunch that there is more to the case than suspected. Evelyn starts her new job, but her run of bad luck is not over. Mason receives a call the very next day from a shaken Evelyn, who claims to have found an unfired gun in the drawer of her bedroom at the Tavern. Perry agrees to meet her at a Hollywood restaurant to save time. Evelyn arrives at the rendezvous late and nearly hysterical and with a fired gun and tells of being chased down the winding mountain road by a masked man driving a sedan, at whom she fired two shots at random. Mason immediately reports the crime, the police step in and find a car lying at the bottom of a ravine, the driver shot dead through a pillowcase which covered his head. This could not have been a random shot and Evelyn is arrested for murder.

Mason, Della and Paul Drake set off to unravel this extremely complicated case. In true Mason style, it is not till the very last page that the murder is solved and explanations made. Not only is the reader unaware of the solution, but Mason himself has to think on his feet and resort to some jugglery before he untangles the web.

Gardner with his Executive Producer Gail Patrick Johnson and Hollywood Columnist Norma Browning during the filming of “The Case of the Final Fadeout” 1966. Source: Wikipedia.

Erle Stanley Gardener was a lawyer and author of the Perry Mason series among several other detective series, and long running TV and radio shows, also Hollywood films in the 1930s. At the time of his death in 1970, he was the best -selling American author of the Twentieth century. He also founded The Court of Last Resort in the 1940s, dedicated to helping people who were imprisoned unfairly or couldn’t get a fair trial.

Find this review on her Goodreads page here

Turns out, I’d written a short review of this as well here

17 thoughts on “Guest Post: Book Review: The Case of the Restless Redhead by Erle Stanley Gardner #1954Club

  1. This sounds a really entertaining read. Although I used to love watching Perry Mason when I was a kid, I’ve never read the books! I’m very tempted to now. I didn’t know about The Court of Last Resort, what an excellent thing to do.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. His court cases are really complicated and hold your interest till the very end. I just found out about The Court of Last Resort myself, when writing this post.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Like Madame Bibliophile I’ve never read Gardner, though as a kid I watched Raymond Burr as Perry Mason (and later as Ironside) and found it entertaining – if a little confusing at my age then! As usual I enjoy reviews that tempt me to try something I hadn’t considered before, so thank you both. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can totally relate to your confusion when watching Perry Mason. I read my first Perry Mason at age 10, my very first grownup book. How much I understood, I really don’t remember, but I was very proud of myself. My parents both read Erle Stanley Gardner, and we had many of his books. I never stopped reading them. Hope you enjoy them, too.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. We watched a lot of Perry Mason when I was a kid. This case sounds interesting. I like that you described Riverside as a small town, which it probably was back then. It sure isn’t now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I did get the impression the Riverside was a small town in Orange County. Now that you raised the issue, I researched a bit and found that it dates back to 1870, and was the richest city in the US by 1895.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the warm welcome. I’ve been reading and re-reading Perry Masons all my life. There are 87 books in the series, so you have a lot of choice.

      Liked by 2 people

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