Postcard #13: The case of the dangerous dowager

After something of a hiatus (sorry, dear reader), we’re back with postcard number 13 – lucky for some, but apparently not for this poor disillusioned reviewer, who clearly feels about as thrilled by this novel as a reclusive Scrooge with a headache at the annual office Christmas party.

To be honest, I can see their point. Perry Mason novels are hardly lauded for their depth of character and literary genius. A Booker winner this is not. Wooden dialogue and crude character development are unquestionably the order of the day. 

But isn’t that the point – just a little bit? Crime fiction – that old hard-boiled American detective novel – takes its stylistic heritage from 1920s pulp fiction – which offered mass-produced, cheap and affordable fiction to Britain and the US for the first time. Unrealistic, poorly-written, sexist and stereotypical? Sure.

But a bit of a guilty pleasure? …I’ll leave that up to you.


The cover was created by Polish designer Romek Marber. His template for the separation of the cover (horizontal bands at the top) is now known in the industry as the Marber grid. Fact.


Gardner takes his reader to a time of gambling, sexism, and boring masculine stereotypes. If you can get over how completely flat and unrealistic the characters are, it’s an easy read with a completely unrealistic plot line to match. I’ll stay away from detective novels from now on.

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