Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another Series Continuation...

Thomas Chastain agreed to continue the Perry Mason series with books written by him and approved by the estate. Chastain had been a newspaper reporter who was best known for Who Killed The Robins Family?, a mystery novel that doubled as a contest to name the killer and win a prize. Following the second book featuring Perry Mason, and the series ended for a second and final time. Chastain passed away four years later. 

The first book was something of an anomaly and stood out immediately from the rest of the series. The title of the book was The Case of Too Many Murders, which deviated from the pattern by removing “the” and replacing it with “too.” Unlike the majority of the Perry Mason cases, the story does not open with a scene in Mason’s office, and the novel has the feel of Gardner’s early harder boiled mysteries. Unlike the original books, Chastain uses interior monologues for the characters, which was not something that Gardner had ever done. Characters were portrayed by their actions, not their thoughts, and at no time was the reader allowed into Perry Mason's head. Such a technique would have ruined the surprises that lay in store for the reader in the last chapter of the book. Ignoring that rule, Chastain radically altered the feel for the books. Readers were suddenly presented with a Perry Mason who had his own thoughts -- rather than a Perry whose thoughts were inferred by the reader. 

Chastain used some of the made-for-television movie enhancements in his book, such as the use of the Paul Drake Jr character. The second book in the series was The Case of the Burning Bequest. The books were pedestrian mysteries without much in the way of Gardner’s own unique knowledge of the law. 


  1. Many years ago, Parnell Hall told me that he had written at least one Perry Mason continuation novel and had it rejected, so he turned it into a "Steve Winslow" novel -- "The Anonymous Client" is the title I recall. I don't know if he'd had a contract or had just written it on spec; he was just getting started with his Stanley Hastings series in those days. How it came about was, I opined in print somewhere (DorothyL?) that it seemed to me like a Perry Mason novel because of the strong story hook, the helpful secretary, the lawyer unwilling to take uninteresting cases ... imagine my surprise when he troubled to confirm my idle speculation.

  2. Noah, what a fascinating story.I could easily see Hall writing such a book. I think he'd do well with it.

  3. There are several Steve Winslow books. I've read at least most of them. If you like the Mason books, you'll like them.