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Book Talk: Favorites from the past, Part I

As I begin the third year of this column, I will devote the month of September to reviewing several books that I loved reading during the mid- to late-twentieth century. The first two that I’ve chosen were written before 1950, but I read the first one before mid-century and the second in 1957.

‘The Case of the Careless Kitten’

This was the 20th book in Erle Stanley Gardner’s series of Perry Mason books (not to be confused with the abominably misrepresentative HBO TV series). I had just turned six years old when my maternal grandmother handed me the novel, one of her Book-of-the-Month-Club purchases. I climbed into her bed and started reading. It was my first book that wasn’t about choo-choos or bounding bunnies. I loved it, and I never went back to reading “children’s books.”

Later in life, I found that it wasn’t like the typical Perry Mason mystery. For one thing, Della Street — his secretary — becomes his client about midway through the book. She even winds up on trial and on the witness stand where she is questioned by both Mason (who probably wouldn’t be allowed to represent her in real life) and D.A. Hamilton Burger.



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