This is one of the few Perry Mason books with a jury trial instead of a preliminary hearing. His client lies to him a lot but as usual he keeps faith because she’s a client. At the trial Perry’s nemesis D.A.Hamilton Burger tries to use a new law. It’s a fun bit.
Throughout the long Mason series Gardner shows a fascination with women’s legs and thisbook is no exception. There’s a segment about how a trout farm draws in customers that keeps that tradition going.
Audrey Bicknell has five winning tickets on a horse race. The horse was a fifty to one shot. She wants Perry to pick up her winnings. The odds dropped but it was still a nice piece of change. After collecting Perry is hassled by a man named Martin Fremont, a sleazy private detective and an onlooking cop.
Fremont says the money to buy the tickets came from a man named Rodney Banks who embezzled money from him. He says that means the winnings belong to him. He calls Perry a crook and a shyster. Perry threatens him with a lawsuit and leaves with the money. Before leaving the track he and Della win on the next race.
Perry gives the money to his client and finds out her name is really Nancy Banks. Her brother is Rodney. He uses some of the winnings to bail out Rodney.
Later he finds out from P.I. Paul Drake that Nancy has been frantically trying to reach him to see her at her motel room. Perry goes there and she’s not around. In the bathtub is the body of Martin Fremont. He’s been shot dead.
Nancy finally arrives and tells a story about being robbed of the winnings. Her hands are ice cold and it takes a while for Perry to find out why. He calls Lt.Tragg. After questioning her he lets her go on her way He makes sure they see some cardboard found under the body that came from a container of dry ice. Perry finds out she’s a big fan of true crime detective stories and read how dry ice can be used to fudge the time of death.
Nancy is eventually picked up and charged with murder. She keeps lying to Perry. It is a very interesting trial segment where Perry has to actually calm Burger down after some tactics by a known sleazy lawyer. It’s fun seeing Perry coming to the rescue of his sworn adversary.
This is a fun entry in the series and fans will like it. For those who have never read a Mason book this is a good one to start with.