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Unread 09-29-2006   #1 (permalink)
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Default The case of the crooked candle & The case of the careless kitten

Customer Review: The Puzzle of the Second Stain
The Case of the Crooked Candle, by Erle Stanley Gardner A big truck came to a sudden stop and a car with Mr. Arthur Bickley and wife Sarah ran into it. This couple went to see Perry Mason. The company name can not be found. But their law firm called and offered a settlement. Perry gets his clients a much larger sum - the truck company wants a quick settlement. Perry remembers another client connected to this company (Chapter 1). Investigator Paul Drake learns some strange news about the Karakul Company. Perry wants more information. He tries to contact Fred Milfield, the owner. Perry meets his wife Daphne. Then Lieutenant Tragg shows up - Fred has been murdered (Chapter 3)! In Chapter 5 Carol Burbank drives the car to lose any tails. But she and Perry do not find her father at the motel. When they stop at a favorite restaurant they find Roger Burbank with Lt. Tragg (Chapter 6). Perry gets Drake's report and goes to see Harry Van Nuys. He learns more about Daphne and Fred Milfield (Chapter 8). They find Douglas Burwell has left San Francisco and come to Los Angeles. They visit Douglas and get his story (Chapter 10). Then they go to visit the sheepherder living on Skinner Hills, and learn about Palermo's visit to Milfield's yacht, where the body was found (Chapter 11). When Della goes to meet Carol they meet a stranger who isn't a real friend (Chapter 13). Della shows she knows something about her rights (Chapter 14). It seems that Della's aid to Carol has landed her in hot water. Carol Burbank finally tells Perry the truth (Chapter 15). Then Lt. Tragg shows up to arrest her for Fred's murder. The Preliminary Hearing starts in Chapter 16. This brings out all the testimony of the witnesses. A photograph shows a candle with wax on each side of the candle - it was perpendicular when burning. In Chapter 17 a timeline of the tides is used to correlate it to the known facts. When the boat tilted over the body would slide to the bottom at low tide, but wound not return when the boat leveled. Discrepancies of testimony result from witnesses who sometimes lie; the murderer will always lie. When Perry and Della visit the yacht to test the effect of low tide an unknown visitor shows up (Chapter 18). In the judge's chambers Perry comes up with an explanation for the second blood stain! The re-investigation clears Perry's clients. This book has the usual movement and events in a 'Perry Mason' story, but the plot seems below Gardner's usual standards. The background tells about life in 1944 Los Angeles (a hint about butter rationing).

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