Monday, June 30, 2014

The Case of the Final Mason books

Following the publication of The Case of the Irate Witness and Other Stories, Gardner’s estate released two posthumous Perry Mason novels in 1972 and 1973. The first of these two novels was The Case of the Fenced-in Woman

While the book was promoted as a new Perry Mason novel, the book was in fact over a decade old. The book was originally titled The Case of the Fenced-Off Women and had been written in 1960. Thayer Hobson had rejected the book at that time for having too improbable a plot. Gardner shared correspondence with Helen King, trying to change her mind, but the decision stood until all of the principals had passed away. The book, while a completed draft, had not gone through the rigorous editing process Helen King provided. At times, it is obvious that no one edited the book to reflect the intervening decade. Word choices and situations provide clues to the actual age of the book. The three Walter
sisters remained intensely protective of the integrity of the Mason series, feeling that Gardner knew best about books and sales.
In this book, Morley Eden visits Mason to discuss a difficulty with his property. He had purchased two lots from Loring Carson, who is in the midst of a messy divorce. Carson assures Eden that he has the deed to both properties, but his assurances are hollow. In his haste to get a divorce, Carson had the wrong woman followed. This wrong woman was having an affair, making Carson feel certain that his wife would settle. The mistake costs him the deed to one of the properties.

To get back at the man who has sided with her husband, Mrs. Carson runs barbed wire through Eden’s new home along the property line, providing Eden with only half the house. During a press conference on the house with Eden and Mason, the reporters find the dead body of Loring Carson. Mason has to find a killer while Eden falls in love with his new neighbor.