Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: RARA-AVIS Digest V3 #129

From: Bob Toomey (
Date: 10 Mar 2000

Doug Bassett wrote:
> This will probably sound ridiculous to many of you,
> but I actually read my very first Perry Mason not so
> long ago -- THE CASE OF THE VAGABOND VIRGIN. Gardner
> seems to me to be working in this same sort of
> "semi-boiled" or "medium-boiled" niche -- something
> more than a cozy, but less than the full hard-boiled
> treatment.

The early Perry Mason was a pretty hardboiled, coming straight out of the Black Mask tradition, as he should, since Gardner was one of the Mask's most popular contributers. In the first Mason novel, The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933), he even carried a gun. Mason continued to be hardboiled for the next few novels, but Gardner was setting his sights for the slicks, and he worked hard to polish off the rough edges of his pulp style. By 1948, when VIRGIN was written, he had succeeded completely. I wouldn't call this an improvement myself, but the millions of readers worldwide who bought Gardner's books would no doubt disagree with me.


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