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Publisher's Summary

Criminal lawyer and bestselling mystery author Erle Stanley Gardner wrote nearly 150 novels that have sold 300 million copies worldwide. Now, the American Bar Association is bringing back his most famous and enduring novels - featuring criminal defense lawyer and sleuth Perry Mason - in striking trade paperback editions.

Married Eva Griffin has been caught with a prominent congressman, and is ready to pay the editor of a sleazy tabloid hush money to protect the politician. But first Perry Mason tracks down the publisher of the blackmailing tabloid and discovers a shocking secret, which eventually leads to Mason being accused of murder.

This is the first Perry Mason mystery and our introduction to secretary Della Street, detective Paul Drake, and the great lawyer himself.

©1945, 2011 Erle Stanley Gardner (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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What listeners say about The Case of the Velvet Claws

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The true Perry Mason, hard boiled detecting at its finest!

This is the first Perry Mason book and it’s as hard boiled as a two dollar steak. This is the true Perry Mason, not just courtroom lawyer but a guy who does his own detecting, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He is as hard boiled as they come. Think of Phillip Marlowe with a law degree. If you love the 30s hard boiled lone wolf detective story, you are in for a treat. And there are many many more!

14 people found this helpful

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Enter Perry Mason

I'd never read a Perry Mason novel before, nor have I seen the TV show. Still, as a law student, I figured I should at least try the first one out.

I was pleasantly surprised by the mystery, and especially surprised by the fact that a lot of the law quoted here is actually real! This novel doesn't have any courtroom scenes, but a good defense attorney wins most cases during investigation, so even that was accurate.

Also, the narrator does a great, hard-boiled, film noire, detective voice. If you're on the fence, this is a really fun trip. Enjoy!

12 people found this helpful

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perry mason as sam spade

good yarn with some good curves, very hard boiled noir, with 1930s gangster vibes. Hardly any law in it... so not a trial story. fun, but nothing like Raymond Burr.

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Perry Mason

Perry Mason is an excellent book to listen to. I found this book is interesting as Raymond Burr's portrayal of Perry Mason. this is the first book out of 150 books of Perry Mason.

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Horrible Narration but Good Story

What did you love best about The Case of the Velvet Claws?

Classic whodunit.

Any additional comments?

Cendese is the single worst narrator I've heard. I've listened to several Perry Mason's now.
His choice of voices are normal, Kentucky Colonel, bad Jimmy Stewart impersonation, mob muscle thug, breathless airhead female and a couple of others. All except "normal" are extreme and usually the voice does not go with the character. The judge might get the mobster voice, and Paul Drake usually gets the high pitched breathless voice. He totally misses the subtle voice changes for different characters used by other narrators.

That said, I've listened to several and keep listening. I just accept that Perry Mason in general is formula, campy and anything but deep literature, and try to ignore the narration. Cendese also improved (some) as the series progressed.

Bottom line. The stories are fun and worth listening too, just accept crappy narration as part of the package.

6 people found this helpful

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Unlistentoable

I have been listening to audio books since 1982. Candese is the worst narrator I have ever experienced. Bar none. His narration belongs in a cartoon spoof. (Although Daffy Duck was more entertaining). I had looked forward to listening to the whole series but now I am not sure I can make it through one, but the story makes you somehow persevere.

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Some racist language

This contains some racist language that was typical of when and by whom it was written.

1 person found this helpful

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Shown 1/14/2020 -- The Case of the Velvet Claws

First book in the series. Stanley Gardner
Narrated by: Alexander Cendese

Mr. Cendese has the perfect deep voice to narrate this noir series. A case of a congressman's wife, betrayal & infidelity. The books are grittier than the TV series.

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The One that started it all!

This is the first Perry Mason novel, and while it isn't as strong as some of the others, hearing Mason figure out how to work this one and extricate his client and himself from a jam is fun. You may not like the client, but Perry, Paul Drake, and Della are all fun here.

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Not the vanilla version from black and white TV

Purple prose is slightly off putting but the intricate plotting and legal shenanigans more than make up.

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  • AEP
  • 04-17-22

Every story has a beginning

I don't like to write reviews just to say I found the story good but not great. However it seems that the only review for this book is quite negative (albeit in a funny, witty way) so I thought I would add some perspective.
This is not the case by which one should judge Perry Mason. His character, his relationship with Della and Paul, the author's skill, all of this is still gestating in this first volume. It is definitely not my favorite and I won't contradict the other reviewer's complaints. I was shocked, disappointed and puzzled because, as a teenager in the 90s, I had a huge crush on white-haired Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, I had also read many volumes, and Perry was never like this.

But if you hang in there, you won't be disappointed as you progress in the series. I think of this version as a younger, harsher, overly arrogant Perry who is still immature and angry at the world. He hates the rich, distrusts the poor, fights his clients, antagonizes the police, despises the DA, he challenges, insults and hits men and women... Then again, that does not make him that different from some well-loved 21st century lawyers such as Suits's Harvey Spector whose Donna may very well be a version of Della.

Thankfully, Perry evolves fast and, a few volumes later, he is almost the man we knew in the TV show.
One still has to wait a bit for amazing DA Hamilton Burger to appear, for Perry's ethics (and emotions) to be defined, for his attitude to become more civil, for Erle Stanley Gardner's writing to truly shine.
But it is nice to see how far these characters have come and, in the end, it makes me love them even more.

Alexander Cendese's narration becomes wonderful as the series progresses but he cannot seem to take seriously anyone who is upset and in the first three volumes, all women except Della sound like deceitful horny idiots. Be warned.
Awesome female characters come along quite early on in the series and, at some point, Cendese starts doing them justice.

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  • John Grimbaldeston
  • 05-10-17

Stomach upset

Probably like many others I came to this book with my preconceptions formed by the TV series, expecting a Raymond Burr type figure, omniscient but still, in a resssuring way, cuddly, and though I did enjoy a couple of the stories as a child they had faded from memory. The Perry Mason in this story remains omniscient, but he is a particularly abrupt and unpleasant chap and treats the adoring and yet efficient Della as a moronic minion to be ordered or dismissed as his whim dictates.

The story is basically simple and the 'twist' at the end extremely predictable as the clues are perhaps too signposted, but worse than that, the reading is, to be kind, curious. The reader spits out the words through clenched teeth, as though suffering a serious case of constipation, and yet the extremely hurried delivery is sometimes hard to follow and indicative, paradoxically, of diarrhoea - one does worry for his digestion. I think a lesser character is meant to be from Scotland, but from this narrator's rendition, it could be South Africa, Wales, anywhere.

Perry Mason is probably best left in the mateus rose hue of misty memory.