At age 70, Gardner was still able to keep a good pace. In 1960 alone, he produced three Perry Mason novels, all of which would rapidly become fodder for the television show. These late novels show certain common traits such as a concentration on secretaries as suspects, marriages gone bad, a blurred line between Gardner’s own life and Perry’s along with a number of recycled plotlines.
The Case of the Waylaid Wolf is exactly what it sounds like. Arlene Ferris, a secretary at Lamont Rolling, Casting and Engineering Company, experiences car trouble after working late and agrees to accept a car ride home from Loring Lamont, the son of the company’s founder.
After a few excuses and detours, the pair ends up at a company-owned cabin, where Lamont says that he is to wait for a man to pick up some papers. Following a phone call, Lamont’s attentions turn brutal, and Ferris escapes in Lamont’s car. She calls on Perry Mason the next morning to determine her options. While she’s meeting with Mason, they learn that Lamont was killed out at the cabin.
The timeline and forensics details play a large part in this case. The time of death was determined in part by the contents of the victim’s stomach. Arlene Ferris claimed that a meal including scrambled eggs was prepared, but never eaten. The coroner puts the death at minutes after the meal was consumed.
The Newsweek piece gave details on Gardner’s creative processes for The Case of the Duplicate Daughter. Gardner had indicated that he felt a creative streak coming on. He’d avoided alcohol that evening, went to bed at 2 a.m. and woke at 6 a.m. to begin work on the book, dictating with two recorders in front of him. “All right, gal, hold onto your hat. Here it comes,” he had been reported to say. Gardner dictated in the voice of each character, indicating paragraph marks to the secretaries, but leaving all other punctuation to their knowledge of the rules of grammar.