Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Gardner and Chase are back

Erle Stanley Gardner
There was a time when Erle Stanley Gardner and James Hadley Chase occupied space on dusty bookshelves in Indian homes; at least the ones that read books. I have read nearly all the novels written by legal eagle Gardner and thriller writer Chase, a pseudonym for British writer Rene Brabazon Raymond. Both were, predictably, favourites among most readers of my generation of the 1970s and 1980s.

The Gardner and Chase series of novels are back in a new avatar but the reprints are no match for the originals—the cover designs are flashy and the printing quality very poor. In fact, they look like pirated editions of books usually found on pavements.
Hopefully, the stories inside are the same old stories—Gardner’s pocket novels revolving around lawyer Perry Mason, the protagonist, his efficient secretary Della Street, private detective Paul Drake, policeman Lt. Tragg, and district attorney Hamilton Burger; and Chase’s mystery books circling around an assortment of oddball characters that almost always include cops, gangsters, murderers, philanderers, and beautiful women.

James Hadley Chase
Chase has a thing about cops who are the heroes in several of his books where you will find the cop in overcoat mouthing the now famous line, “I gave him my cop look.” Gardner’s hero, Mason, is a reputed and distinguished lawyer who is ably aided by both Della and Drake. In the courtroom Mason always gets the better of his nemesis, Burger. Well nearly always…

Both novels are about crimes and criminals—one playing out in the courtrooms, the other out in the streets—and keeps the reader hooked from cover to cover. They are fun to read and quick to finish.

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