Vintage Pulp Oct 10 2019
MONSIEUR BLAMESHIFTER
Erm... before you shoot... I just want you to know it was all her fault.


Crime en deux temps, or “crime in two stages,” was originally released in 1939 as The Case of the Rolling Bones. For some reason the French publishers of this book, Presses de la Cité, call legendary mystery author Erle Stanley Gardner just Stanley Gardner, which sounds, well, non-legendary. Stanley Gardner is a guy at the office you don't talk to because he's a skin picker. Erle Stanley Gardner is a guy who, if he likes you, can get you into Nobu. So, the Erle is needed.

Plotwise, this revolves around greed, gold, and a group of people who want to prevent their relative from losing his fortune to his prospective wife. In order to stop this imagined horror, they commit the relative to a nuthouse before he can get married. Which backfires when he escapes. As always with Gardner there's a murder, which brings Perry Mason onto the scene to sort everything out.

As you might guess, because Gardner was (and is) an immensely popular author there are several English language paperback covers for this, and they all feature dice in some form. Which makes sense, because the original title came about because there's an actual die maker in the book. He makes crooked dice, and he gets murdered. This uncredited French cover from 1950 caught our eye because of its non-literal approach. No dice, but it's a winner.

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Femmes Fatales Aug 21 2019
TAURINS ASCENDANT
Get out of my astrological house or I'll blow your brains out.


This photo shows Latvian actress Ilse Taurins rocking what looks like a Russian ushanka hat, accessorized with a pistol. She's actually a Virgo, not a Taurus. Apart from a single motion picture, she acted exclusively on television, appearing on shows like Wild Wild West, Perry Mason, and Bonanza, between 1963 and 1972. This shot was made as a promo for The John Forsythe Show in 1965.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 10 2017
SHE'S GOT HIS BACK
Fine. Explain. But don't turn around. I hate your face so much right now I might shoot it on general principle.


Above, a cover for Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Haunted Husband, eighteenth in the acclaimed Perry Mason series, from Pocket Books. Generally considered one of the best Mason mysteries, this one tells the story of a female hitchhiker who accepts a ride from a guy who gets a little too handsy, leading to a multi-car crack-up. The woman awakens behind the wheel, with the driver nowhere to be seen, and a fatality in one of the other cars. The cops don't believe she wasn't the driver, so they arrest her and charge her with negligent homicide. Things get worse when the car turns out to be stolen, and suddenly she's on the hook for that too. Enter Perry Mason. Nothing is haunted in this book, but the mystery is a winner. We also were reminded how effective short chapters can be in drawing a reader into a story. The hardback of The Case of the Haunted Husband appeared in 1941, and the above paperback with Bernard Safran art followed in 1949.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 21 2016
HOME ALONE
In the end I have to admit this minimalist look is kind of depressing. Maybe I should buy an ottoman.

Robert McGinnis does his usual flawless work on this cover for Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Bigamous Spouse. Many summaries of this online, but briefly, it's about a door-to-door saleswoman who is implicated in the murder of her best friend's new husband, who was married to two women. Rest assured, Perry Mason sorts it all out as perfectly as McGinnis sorted out this cover.  

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Femmes Fatales Jun 25 2013
RECREATIONAL HUGHES
This must be her way of asking for a foot massage.

Above, a Universal International Pictures promo shot of American actress Kathleen Hughes, who starred one of our favorite hilariously awful films, It Came from Outer Space, and another movie that sounds terrible but which we haven't seen yet, Cult of the Cobra. She also acted in television extensively and appeared on Perry Mason, Gomer Pyle, I Dream of Jeannie and Mission: Impossible. This image dates from 1953.  

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Vintage Pulp Oct 23 2012
THINK PINK
Do you find these covers irresistible? There’s a reason.


In color therapy pink symbolizes unconditional love, and you wear it when you want someone to be instantly drawn to you. Well, that stuff must work, because we're instantly drawn to these covers by Robert McGinnis for Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series, circa early 1960s. We were thinking about changing our website a bit, but now that we know this about the color pink, forget it. Our traffic might drop to nothing.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 9 2012
SINGING LIKE A BIRD
Squawk! Polly wanna cracker plus prosecutorial immunity or Polly don’t say another frickin’ word.

You may be asking yourself whether this book is really about what the cover seems to imply. Yes, Erle Stanley Gardner’s fictional attorney Perry Mason does indeed encounter a talking parrot that saw a murder. The Case of the Perjured Parrot was published in 1939, so we’re pretty sure Gardner was the first writer to conceive of such an outrageous plot device. He has plenty of fun with the idea, and his bird is full of surprises. Or birds, we should say, since there turns out to be more than one. In the end, Perry Mason learns that a parrot can be as difficult a witness as a human. Excellent cover art is by unknown.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 18 2011
POSITIVE CHANGE
Erle Stanley Gardner classic gets respectful treatment every time out.


Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of The Sulky Girl is one of those books that was reissued many times through the years with different covers, all quite nice. This isn’t an exceedingly rare occurrence, but the quality of the art in this case is notable. Below, we have seven examples starting with the original paperback cover from 1933, followed by excellent efforts from Muni (panel three), Dawson (panel four), Peffer (panel five), McGinnis (panel seven) and unknowns.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 8 2010
THE CONSTANT GARDNER
Practice makes perfect writing

Above, a rare hardback dust jacket for Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Substitute Face, starring his fictional defense attorney Perry Mason, published in 1938. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 03
1966—Lenny Bruce Found Dead
American comedian Lenny Bruce is found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home. A photo taken at the scene shows him lying naked on the floor with a syringe nearby, along with other narcotics paraphernalia. The official cause of death is listed as acute morphine poisoning due to an accidental overdose.
August 02
1921—Black Sox Acquitted
After a trial lasting fourteen days, a jury finds eight Chicago White Sox baseball players not guilty of conspiring with a national gambling syndicate to throw the 1920 World Series. Despite the acquittal, newly appointed baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis expels all eight players from major league baseball in an attempt to assure the American public of the purity of the game.
August 01
1966—Whitman Massacre in Texas
Charles Joseph Whitman, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, kills 14 people and wounds 32 during a shooting rampage on and around the university's campus. Ten are killed from the 28th floor observation deck of the University's administrative building. Whitman had already murdered his wife and mother in their homes.
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