Influences: Erle Stanley Gardner

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) was a lawyer who loved litigating and courtroom antics, but was bored with actual law.  In his spare time, he began writing stories for various pulp publications.  His first was published in 1923.  He is most famous as the creator of Perry Mason.  Mason was the lawyer hero of 80 novels.  Under the A.A. Fair pen-name he wrote a series of novels centering on the Cool and Lam Detective Agency.

Perry Mason was the most wholesome of the long-running pulp heroes.  Mason’s secretary, Della Street set the tone for all future “secretary-sidekicks”.  Street was based, in part on Gardner’s own secretary, Agnes Jean Bethel…whom he would eventually marry.  Much of Gardner’s Perry Mason work is formulaic and the characters don’t have the same resiliency as Chandler or Hammett’s flawed heroes.  Mason is a little too clean-cut for many of today’s readers.  Despite this, Gardner’s influence on succeeding generations of crime writers cannot be overstated.

Must Reads:

Perry Mason:

The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933)

The Case of the Sulky Girl (1933)

The Case of the Howling Dog (1934)

The Case of the Careless Kitten (1942)

The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito (1943)

The Case of the Crooked Candle (1944)

The Case of the Buried Clock (1943)


Cool and Lam:

The Bigger They Come (1939)

Turn on the Heat (1940)

Bats Fly at Dusk (1942)

Top of the Heap (1952)

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