Murder Is Our Peculiar Pastime: Fifty Notable American Crime Novels: 21-22


Gardner, Erle Stanley.  The Case of the Crooked Candle.  New York: Morrow, 1944.

Erle Stanley Gardner was not the first mystery-suspense novelist to create a protagonist who was a lawyer.  But his most famous creation, Perry Mason, has become the prototype for other criminal attorneys in the genre—so much so that earlier fictional attorneys are often now referred to as forerunners of Mason.  In addition, Mason has inspired the subsequent sub-genre of the legal thriller, most recently brought to prominence by such novelists as John Grisham and John T. Lescroart.  Still, Mason has remained the standard for the hard-nosed, quick-witted defense attorney who commits himself completely to his clients once he believes in their innocence.

Certainly, the long-running and then resurrected television series based on Gardner’s novels and starring Aaron Burr greatly enhanced and extended Mason’s influence.  But Gardner had a great deal of input on the original series…

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