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