Perry Mason by author Erle Stanley Gardner

Unraveling Mysteries with Perry Mason, the Dynamic Defense Attorney


For over 80 years, Perry Mason has captivated readers as a criminal defense lawyer who goes above and beyond to solve puzzling cases. Created by prolific American author Erle Stanley Gardner in 1933, Mason takes on seemingly hopeless murder trials and invariably establishes his clients’ innocence through relentless investigative work, keen insights, and expert courtroom drama.

Perry Mason by author Erle Stanley Gardner

You can find many Erle Stanley Gardner’s books on Perry Mason, here we recommend The Case of the Lazy Lover, the first book of The Perry Mason Mysteries, available on both and Amazon UK.

About Author Erle Stanley Gardner

Author Erle Stanley Gardner

Erle Stanley Gardner was one of the most prolific and widely read American authors of the 20th century. Best known for creating the iconic legal drama character Perry Mason, Gardner wrote over 80 detective novels, hundreds of short stories, and several non-fiction books over his lifetime.

Born in Massachusetts in 1889, Gardner had a restless spirit from a young age. He briefly tried his hand at a variety of occupations in the early 20th century American West, working as a typist, boxer, lawyer and more before discovering his passion for writing. After selling his first short story in 1923, Gardner dedicated himself fully to crafting mysteries and detective fiction.

Gardner’s big break came in 1933 with the publication of The Case of the Velvet Claws, which introduced defense attorney Perry Mason. The legal thriller proved so popular that it spawned over 80 more Perry Mason adventures, including The Case of the Sulky Girl, The Case of the Lucky Legs and The Case of the Howling Dog. Perry Mason became a household name through the long-running radio series, television adaptations in the 1950s and 1960s, and an iconic portrayal by Raymond Burr.

Though the Perry Mason books dominated much of Gardner’s output and remain his most popular works, he experimented across genres throughout his career. He dabbled in western and science fiction stories for the legendary pulp magazine Black Mask. Some non-Perry titles like the Doug Selby DA series and Cool and Lam detective adventures still attract mystery fans today. Gardner also wrote authoritative non-fiction books about his true crime reporting, travel adventures and passion for orchid collecting later in life.

Erle Stanley Gardner completely reshaped the detective fiction genre. His fast-paced, plot-twisting writing style brought fresh energy to mystery fans. By injecting legal drama into crime solving, Gardner paved the way for the legal and police thriller subgenres. He has inspired generations of authors like Michael Connelly and John Grisham. With over 1,000 works translated into dozens of languages, Gardner is one of the bestselling authors of all time. His creation Perry Mason remains an icon of American mystery fiction.

Though Gardner passed away in 1970, millions still enjoy the Perry Mason television and film remakes as well as Gardner’s extensive back catalogue of detective novels and pulp stories. Erle Stanley Gardner left an unmistakable stamp on mystery fiction through his rapid-fire, action-packed literary style and charming protagonist Perry Mason.

An Unlikely Hero

With his rough-and-tumble origins from a mining town out West, Mason hardly fits the mold of a refined barrister. Yet he brings street smarts and maverick methods to the legal system. Do you root for unconventional underdog heroes? If so, Mason will appeal to you in his quests to undermine prosecution witnesses, prod police overreach, and expose the real killers.

Page-Turning Investigations

Gardner penned over 80 Mason novels during his lifetime, including thrilling titles like The Case of the Sulky Girl, The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife, and The Case of the Counterfeit Eye. He also wrote short stories, plays, and movies featuring the wily attorney.

The typical formula presents a baffling murder, an array of witnesses and suspects, and wrongful charges against an innocent party. Mason takes the seemingly hopeless case when he smells injustice. Then the excitement builds as he investigates crime scenes, interrogates shady players, finds obscure clues the police missed, and reconstructs what truly happened.

Courtroom Drama Par Excellence

As a case heads to trial, Mason warns his clients, “I’ll get you out of this mess but it won’t be pretty.” He then proceeds to upend court proceedings through surprise witnesses, dramatic confrontations, damning evidence, and his masterly cross-examinations.

Just when all seems lost, Mason slowly turns the screws on the real murderer until they break down in a stunning courtroom confession. Have you ever wondered whether justice gets served in baffling cases? Gardner offers the vicarious thrill of seeing clever legal strategy triumph over imperfect institutions to exonerate the wrongly accused.

Flawed Clients

What makes Mason such a compelling hero? He’s loyal, courageous, insightful, persistent, and ingenious as an investigator and attorney. But he’s also willing to skirt ethical lines if needed to free his client.

In fact, Mason’s clients usually hide details that complicate their cases. Some even try to use him as an accomplice for questionable schemes. Yet the honorable lawyer tries understanding their plights before coaxing the full truth to better serve their cause.

Memorable Supporting Characters

Mason has recurring allies who offer colorful assistance. These include private eye Paul Drake, who handles surveillance and fact-finding missions. Loyal secretary Della Street organizes case details and offers insights while conveying admiration for her brilliant boss.

Then there’s law student and private detective Douglas Jr. who supports Mason’s unofficial investigations. And courtroom nemesis Hamilton Burger, the tenacious but outmatched District Attorney frustrated by Mason’s legal antics.

Visual Adaptations

Given its crime writing pedigree, the Mason franchise expanded into other media over the decades. There have been six Hollywood films, three television series, and multiple radio dramatizations.

Some featured big stars—Raymond Burr had a long TV run as Mason while Tom Cruise played a younger version in the 2011 movie. Have you seen the iconic defense attorney in action on-screen? If not, consider watching adaptations to complement reading cases on the printed page.


After 850 TV episodes, over 100 court battles in novels, and 80 years since his print debut, Perry Mason remains an iconic and hugely entertaining legal hero. He takes on injustice through tenacity and legal jujitsu, leading to dramatic courtroom revelations and hard-won redemption for this clients.

Gardner’s snappy prose, intriguing mysteries, fascinating investigations, and satisfying resolutions make the novels quick reads with wide appeal. Track down some Mason adventures whenever you crave an utterly absorbing legal thriller.

More Super Sleuths to Explore

If you enjoy Mason’s heroics and crime busting adventures, add these compelling fiction lawyers, PIs, and mavericks to your reading list:

  1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. A thrilling mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end. When ten strangers are lured to an isolated island under different pretexts, they find themselves accused by a mysterious voice of having committed various murders in their past. This is a true classic “locked room” thriller with an ending that is simply unforgettable.
  2. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. Mickey Haller is a Los Angeles defense attorney who works out of his Lincoln Town Car. Like Perry Mason, Haller takes on complex cases and surprising legal maneuvers to get justice for his clients.
  3. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. A riveting legal thriller about a prosecutor charged with the murder of his colleague and former lover. Fans of Perry Mason will be gripped by the back-and-forth courtroom drama as the truth slowly comes to light.
  4. Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver. This classic courtroom drama has all the twists and turns that Perry Mason fans love. Set in Michigan, it follows a small-town lawyer defending an Army lieutenant accused of murdering his wife’s rapist.
  5. The Verdict by Nick Stone. Terry Flynt is a down on his luck lawyer given one last chance to redeem himself with an impossible medical negligence lawsuit. Gritty legal drama for those who love an underdog courtroom story.
  6. The Conviction by Robert Dugoni. Lawyer Charles Jenkins takes on the appeal case of a potentially wrongfully convicted man on death row. An edge-of-your seat legal thriller perfect for fans of powerful courtroom sagas.
  7. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. Sebastian Rudd is a renegade attorney who operates out of his customized bulletproof van. He takes controversial, seemingly unwinnable cases in this fast-paced legal thriller.
  8. The Rainmaker by John Grisham. When young lawyer Rudy Baylor’s first case is against a huge insurance company refusing a claim, the odds are stacked against him. A classic David and Goliath legal story.
  9. A Time to Kill by John Grisham. When a young girl is brutally assaulted and her father takes justice into his own hands, only an intrepid small-town lawyer will take his case. An intense exploration of racism and justice.
  10. Defending Jacob by William Landay. Prosecutor Andy Barber faces the shock of his life when his own beloved son is charged with murder, leading him into a high-stakes legal dilemma. An emotional legal rollercoaster.


Who created the character of Perry Mason?

Erle Stanley Gardner created the character of Perry Mason, a tough and clever defense attorney, in 1933 for a series of detective stories that spanned over 80 novels and short stories. Gardner wrote all of the original Perry Mason stories himself throughout the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Where is Perry Mason set?

The Perry Mason stories predominantly take place in Los Angeles where Mason runs a private legal practice. Key locations that feature regularly include Mason’s office, the Los Angeles County Courthouse, police stations, jails and the neighborhoods where clients and suspects live.

What time period do the Perry Mason books cover?

The Perry Mason book series spans multiple decades, but is mainly set in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The first Perry Mason novel, The Case of the Velvet Claws, was published in 1933 and the last, The Case of the Postponed Murder, was published in 1966, so the books overall cover over 30 years.

Why is Perry Mason such a renowned lawyer?

Perry Mason is renowned for his detective-like skills in gathering evidence and questioning suspects and witnesses, which helps him to win seemingly impossible cases. While unconventional, Mason’s clever tactics save innocent people from wrongful convictions by bringing the truth to light.

What is Perry Mason’s methodology for solving cases?

Perry Mason uses tenacity, grit and legal cunning rather than violence or intimidation to solve his cases. He investigates crime scenes thoroughly, interrogates all witnesses, analyzes contradictions in testimony, understands criminal psychology and motives and devises ingenious legal strategies.

Does Perry Mason ever lose a case?

In over 80 Perry Mason novels and short stories, Mason only loses one case in the courtroom throughout the whole book series. This demonstrates his brilliant legal mind and his determination to expose the truth behind crimes and exonerate his clients.

Who assists Perry Mason in his investigations?

Perry Mason has a clever, resourceful team helping him investigate cases behind the scenes, although Mason himself puts together the legal arguments. His right-hand aides are private detective Paul Drake, who uncovers evidence, secretary Della Street, who coordinates logistics and law clerk Ken Malansky.

Has Perry Mason inspired any TV or film adaptations?

Yes, the famous lawyer has transitioned to both TV and film over the years. Perry Mason was adapted into 6 Hollywood movies in the 1930s and 40s and then a hugely popular CBS television series starring Raymond Burr, which ran from 1957 to 1966. HBO revived the show in 2020 with Matthew Rhys playing Mason.

How many Perry Mason books did Erle Stanley Gardner write?

Prolific author Erle Stanley Gardner wrote 82 Perry Mason novels and short stories published between 1933 and 1973. The last few books were published posthumously after Gardner’s death using working notes he left behind. Perry Mason was Gardner’s most famous recurring character among over 150 fiction books he penned.

Why is Perry Mason such an iconic character?

Perry Mason epitomizes the classic fictional American detective – tough, quick-witted, justice-seeking and more interested in unraveling the truth behind a case than strictly following the letter of the law. Mason’s incisive mind, dramatic case-cracking revelations and commitment to protecting the innocent made him hugely appealing to generations of mystery fans.

Leave a Reply