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. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Top 10 Books

There's a new meme on Facebook where you're asked to name 10 books that influenced you. I posted a short list of books on Facebook, but I thought I'd elaborate on each title on my blog. While it may 
seem amazingly eclectic, explanations might make more sense of it. Each has had an impact on me personally and professionally. 

Here they are in their glory:

1) East of Eden by John Steinbeck - A great re-imagining of the story of Cain and Abel, this story's theme always reminds me that free will and choices make up so much of who we are. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. 

2) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger - Is there a teenage boy who doesn't like this and read it? 

3) Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers - One of my all time favorite mysteries, which combined a non-murder plot, a romance, and a thematic question on women and education. A fascinating blend, and a book I re-read almost yearly. 

4) Emma by Jane Austen - Jane Austen has a way with characters and social mores. Emma is perhaps my favorite character. Her twisted path to find Mr. Knightly reminds me of someone else I know <g>. 

5) A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie - In its own way, a novel of post WWII England as much as a mystery. Christie looks at the way her country has changed for better and for worse. The book includes her first lesbian couple and an aftermath of murder that is as raw and gut-wrenching as anything I've seen by any mystery author. 

6) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - True crime meets one of the century's bon vivants. 

7) The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen - Not one, but four brilliant solutions in one book. By far one of the best and most convoluted mysteries ever written. 

8) Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett - Read to me by my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Murply. We didn't finish before the end of the school year. The story so fascinated me that I had to pick up a copy at the library and finish it. I was amazed to think that a book could so have an impact on a person. 

9) My Kingdom for a Hearse by Craig Rice  - One of the most grotesque and funny mysteries ever, I never realized that mysteries could be just downright fun. 

10) Women in Love by DH Lawrence  - We read this in high school and twice since. It gets better as I age. 

And remember that I judge people by the books on their shelves,