Monday, June 5, 2017

The Case of the Empty Tin by Erle Stanley Gardner

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A symphony is playing on our local APR station.  Sounds like Beethoven. My mistake.  It's Brahms Symphony Number Four performed here by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Solti.  Ah, that brings back the memories.  When I was a graduate student at Roosevelt University, I would buy canceled tickets to see performances at Orchestra Hall (now the Chicago Symphony Center) an hour or two before a performance.  It was great; the tickets were for ten dollars back then and sometimes I got a front row center seat, like the time I got to hear Radu Lupu perform Liszt's Symphonic Variations (it's not Radu Lupu on this link; I couldn't find a recording of him performing them).  Other times I got a seat behind a pole, so it was luck of the draw, although usually I could move after intermission.

I've opened the windows of my house because, even though it is slightly chilly and wet outside, the breeze is freshening up my house and keeping it pleasantly cool.  I put my guinea pigs outside just to give them some air.  Even though the ground is a little wet, the clover is green and they enjoy nibbling on it.  They need a bath anyway.

The Case of the Empty TinThe Case of the Empty Tin by Erle Stanley Gardner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The perfect book for a rainy day weekend, which this last weekend was. I curled up in my favorite chair next to the French Doors with a perfect view of the rain coming down in the backyard, making the lawn green.

Florence Gentrie is a loving, doting mother and a conscientious manager of household affairs. In the middle of the night she hears a shot. Worried, she investigates. She looks in the cellar and around the house but sees nothing amiss. Well, one thing is amiss and it really bothers her (anything not in order really bothers her). Among her rows of canned preserves is a tin that doesn't belong there. She picks it up and is surprised to find it is empty, even though it is sealed. Puzzled, she leaves the tin and moves on.

She checks on her son, Junior, who should be back from work, but when she gets to his bedroom, he's not there. Troubled, she goes back to bed.

Perry Mason is pouring over legal books preparing for a case when his secretary, Della Street, tells him a young man wants him to come with him, because his rich uncle wants to talk with him over an incident.

The old man, Elston A. Kaar, is wheelchair bound. He tells Perry that he heard a shot in the apartment below and he doesn't know what happened. He isn't concerned about what happened, he just wants the whole thing to be kept quiet because he is keeping a low profile and doesn't want the publicity.

Incidentally, Kaar lives next door to Mrs. Gentrie.

The man, a Mr. Hocksley, who lives beneath Kaar has subsequently disappeared.

What has this got to do with the empty tin? Has Hocksley been murdered? Has he murdered someone? Why does Kaar wish to avoid publicity? Is there a connection between Kaar, Hocksley, and the Gentrie household?

I'm not going to tell you because I don't want to ruin the story.

This so far is my favorite Mason novel. The facts of the case are measured out spoonful by spoonful. Just enough to give you a good appetite for what is happening. The story builds up nicely, keeping the reader's curiosity whetted leading into a satisfactory conclusion.

I recommend it as a good, cozy read.

View all my reviews

Question for you:  what did you read this past week that you really enjoyed?


  1. OMG!!: a Perry Mason i haven't read!... i've read about half of them, i think; many of them are hard to find...
    weve been watching Raymond Burr as PM in the TV series made in the late fifties... very well done and the acting is great with an excellent cast of ancillary characters....
    Brahms is wonderfully idiomatic in a German sort of way, i've found, perhaps more fun to play than listen to, ime, anyhow...
    i'm currently into "Mountains and Molehills" by Frank Marryat, the son of Fred, the famous author of sea stories... it's in diary form, covering the California gold rush and subsequent events in South America; he's an excellent writer, just like his dad...
    the latest chapter in the great Kitchen opera: after dodging in and out of motels, rented houses, and our own place, the remodel was finally completed and we came home; only to discover that the new furnishings were emitting some kind of voc smell that was giving us headaches and making us nauseous... after a lot of back and forth, the resolution involved yanking all the cabinets and counters back out of the kitchen and leaving a bare-to-the-walls room... nobody knows what to do and so we're sitting here, staring out the window, waiting for an inspiration to come lofting through and instill more(probably fruitless)action on our part...

    1. Hi Mudpuddle. I can't remember where I came across this particular Mason. I found some at a giant flea market which is held the first weekend of each month about an hour from here. There's a vendor there with a great book collection. She has a lot of out of print cheap books.

      Also, I get collections from ebay. If you're patient you can come across estate sales where the vendor is simply trying to get rid of stuff and selling bunches of books for one cheap price. Note the key word: cheap. That's my middle name.

      I have not watched the Perry Mason TV series, although I've watched Raymond Burr in Ironside-one of my childhood favorite shows- and also some old movies.

      Mountains and Molehills sounds good. I'm on my way to Amazon after this. I love books like that.

      Kitchen opera, ha! Actually, reading the rest of your paragraph is not funny at all. That is so frustrating and I'm very sorry for your predicament. Man! I hope this is resolved soon!

      We just had a man come out to look at our roof because our window is leaking water when it rains, thanks to our twister experience a week ago. He immediately saw where the damage was and is coming tomorrow to fix it, thank goodness because I'm taking my parents back to Florida Wednesday.

  2. Hi Sharon.

    My wife has read a few of The Perry Mason books and liked them. I have been thinking of reading some classic mysteries myself. The Perry Mason books sound good but I may start with Sherlock Holmes.

    I love the television series.

    Have a great week!

    1. I'm sorry Brian, but the question was what had you read last week. You fail.

      Ha, ha. Just joking. Actually Sherlock Holmes, in my humble opinion, is the best of all the mystery stories. Holmes is such a complicated, fascinating character and the story lines are built up so well. No one has surpassed Doyle's mastery.

      Take care and have a good week too! :)

  3. I enjoyed your review and posting. That always happens when I visit here. As for my reading, my review posted the other day highlights my recent completed reading: the story of Grover Cleveland's secret surgery. I'm now between books. I wonder what is next.

    1. HI Tim! I'm always glad when you visit. I need to hop over to your blog and read about Cleveland's secret surgery. Sounds intriguing. When you figure out what to read next, let us know! Take care!

  4. It's been a long time since I've seen a Perry Mason review (or read any of the books), good suggestion for a rainy day. I'm right in the middle of listening to the audio version of "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane" and I'm enjoying it. :)

    1. Hi Marcia. I have not read Tea Girl but I looked up the review and it sounds interesting.

      If you write a review i look forward to reading it.

  5. I've only read one Perry Mason story - it was ok but didn't inspire me to read more. Just finished a book by Dorothy B. Hughes - The Expendable Man which was hard to put down so I read it over two days.

    1. Hi Carol. I must find this book. I long for books that are hard to put down. I have not heard of the author before either.

    2. Persephone books published the copy I have, Sharon. I think you'd enjoy the book as it's a mix of suspense & the social/political background of 1960's America.

    3. Hi Carol. I have looked it up and put it on my Amazon wishlist.


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.