The Case of the Howling Dog

by Erle Stanley Gardner, © 1934, this Pocket Book edition: 1942
featuring Perry Mason, attorney

This is the 4th Perry Mason mystery, following Velvet Claws, Sulky Girl and Lucky Legs.

When a man comes to Mason asking for him to make a will, he’s fine with that, but then the man says he also wants Mason to do something about the dog that is howling next door. Some questioning of the neighbor results in assurances the dog doesn’t howl, has never howled. But there’s more to this next-door-neighbor feud than meet the eye. Both men used to live in Santa Barbara, until one of them ran off with the other’s wife…

Not a strong entry in the series, Gardner puts in several times the number of twists and turns necessary. We do see in this one the slight maturation of Mason from battling with fists to using cleverness to outwit the prosecution, but there are some gaps and loose ends. Gardner was feeling his way in these first half dozen Mason novels, the first being quite hard-boiled, the character gradually morphing into the attorney most readers and television program watchers know.

While intriguing in places, and sufficiently popular to have been made into a film in 1934 with Warren William as Mason and Mary Astor as Bessie Foley, the defendant in the case, to me this one reads like the sophomore effort that it is, entertaining but far from the best in the series.

note: thanks to The Kelley Collection website for the image you see here.

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10 Responses to The Case of the Howling Dog

  1. Patti Abbott says:

    I don’t know if I’ve ever read one. My mother had them all and I think I thought of them as dated. I should give one a try.

  2. I’ve had this one for a good many years. Because of my advanced age(hah), I can’t remember whether this is one I’ve read. I didn’t keep records in my earlier years and some I did have have been lost.

  3. Richard says:

    I’m the same way with the records, Randy. I kept a spiral notebook of books I’d read with little stars for ratings, and later when I got my first computer I transformed it all to a file, then (oh no!) tossed it. That file was later lost and so did subsequent files, due to lack of dilagence with backing up, and hard drive crashes. I now have nothing until the late 1980s, and that’s sketchy. This was okay, but others are better.

  4. Richard says:

    Patti – I would recommend TCOT Sunbather’s Diary, of TCOT Amorous Aunt.

  5. Thanks for plugging the KELLEY COLLECTION web site, Rick! I love that cover (which is probably why I bought the book). And I agree: TCOT SUNBATHER’S DIARY is one of the best Perry Masons. However, the series fell off badly with the late books.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Rick, my database has sections from the early 1970s, but I started keeping it in earnest in May of 1975. I read a lot of Gardners in those days, 50 at last count including most of the early Masons. I have a few of the Lam & Cool books on hand yet to be read.

  7. I read the first 10 or so Lam & Cool books, Jeff. I always thought that Bertha Cool would look exactly like Ellen Nehr.

  8. Richard says:

    Now that’s scary, George. And always glad to plug the collection, it’s fabulous and you did a wonderful thing in donating it.

  9. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I always thought Ellen had the personality for Bertha Cool too!

  10. Pingback: Reading Forgotten Books: The Case of The Howling Dog « Not The Baseball Pitcher

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