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The Case of the Daring Divorcee By

The Case of the Daring Divorcee By

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Published by beautyf

Foreword Some years ago, I dedicated a Perry Mason mystery (_The Case of the Moth -Eaten Mink_) with an appropriate foreword to my friend, Dr. Russell Fisher, who , at that time, had just been appointed C

Foreword Some years ago, I dedicated a Perry Mason mystery (_The Case of the Moth -Eaten Mink_) with an appropriate foreword to my friend, Dr. Russell Fisher, who , at that time, had just been appointed C

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Published by: beautyf on Mar 07, 2010
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THE CASE OF THE DARING DIVORCEEby Erle Stanley GardnerCopyright 1964 by Erle Stanley GardnerAll rights reserved.Published simultaneously in the Dominion of Canada by George J. McLeod Limited,Toronto.Printed in the United States of America.Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 64-10510ForewordSome years ago, I dedicated a Perry Mason mystery (_The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink_) with an appropriate foreword to my friend, Dr. Russell Fisher, who, at that time, had just been appointed Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Maryland.Since that time, I have watched Dr. Fisher's progress with a feeling ofpride in his achievements, and those achievements have been many.Now, as Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Maryland, he has developed his office so efficiently that in the large urban area of Baltimore, every Medical Examiner's case is thoroughly investigated and two out of three deaths studied by the Medical Examiner are autopsied. By comparison, in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania), a city of similar size, only 6% of such deaths were autopsied under the coroner system.Yet Maryland's medical examiner system cost only seventeen cents in theBaltimore area in contrast to twentytwo per person in the Pittsburgh area.This is an enviable record and the voters have shown their confidence inDr. Fisher and the department he has headed by recently approving a bond issuewhich will be used to build a new central headquarters building for Maryland's medical examiner system. This building will house the service function and some research activities of the office. Furthermore, it is planned to build one or more additional floors on the building financed by privately donated funds to housea research and teaching institute of forensic medicine. This institute should help greatly in advancing the application of scientific knowledge to the problemsof law enforcement.It is gratifying to note that more and more people are coming to realizethe importance of legal medicine and the protection given to the living by a modern, up-to-date medical examiner system.As Dr. Fisher recently pointed out, eighty-five percent of all murders in the nation are committed among friends and family members; and particularly incases of poisoning, these murders may well go undetected unless a medical examiner has jurisdiction.Under the rural coroner system many such poisonings have gone undetected. The exact number of such cases is, of course, unknown yet subsequent exhumations have convinced criminologists that poison murders are far more numerous thanthe average person suspects.Because he has made such an excellent record as an administrator, executive and medical examiner, I am dedicating this book to my friend,RUSSELL S. FISHER, M.D.Chief Medical Examiner of MarylandERLE STANLEY GARDNER
THE CASE OF THE DARING DIVORCEEChapter OnePerry Mason, having completed his luncheon conference, returned to his office to find a puzzled Della Street awaiting him."I tried to get you on the phone before you had left the restaurant," she said. "Your two-thirty appointment phoned to cancel, said that as soon as theother side knew Perry Mason was in the case the matter was satisfactorily adjusted. You are to send a bill.""How much was involved?" Mason asked. "About five thousand dollars?""Six thousand, seven hundred and fifty was the amount of the settlement.""Send a bill for five hundred dollars," Mason said. "What else is new, anything?""We have an office mystery.""What do you mean?""This is a mystery that's right in the office. A woman apparently feelsthat her life is in danger and wants your protection, counsel and guidance. Shealso wants the help of a good private detective whom you are to select and supervise.""Who is it?" Mason asked. "And where is she?""Her name is Adelle Hastings," Della said, "but your second question isone to which we don't have the answer."Mason raised his eyebrows."I went to lunch at twelve-fifteen," Della said. "As you know, Gertie and I stagger the lunch hour. I grab a bite and am back by twelve-forty-five, thenGertie goes out and stays until one-thirty, while I keep an eye on the switchboard.""Go ahead," Mason said."Well, you know Gertie. She's incurably romantic. If she ever pays any attention to a client she'll work up a whole story around that client. During thenoon hour when there are very few calls coming in at the switchboard and peopleseldom call at the office, Gertie starts reading love stories and eating chocolate creams."Mason grinned. "And then she tells me how she's watching her weight.""Of course," Della said, smiling. "And she has now convinced herself that it's a scientific fact a little sweet before meals will kill her appetite andshe won't eat so much. She says that our dietary habits are backwards, that we eat a meal and then eat a sweet; that we should eat a sweet and--""I know. I've heard Gertie expound her theories before. Let's get back to the mystery. You've aroused my interest.""Well, Gertie was reading this love story. She had just come to the mostinteresting passage and I think she was reading with one eye and looking out for clients with the other."She said that within five minutes after I had left the office this woman came in and was terribly agitated. She said she had to see you right away."Gertie told her that you were out to lunch, that you seldom saw peoplewithout an appointment, that you might not be back before two-thirty, and that you had a two-thirty appointment."The woman was almost hysterical. She said, 'Never mind, never mind, I'll wait. He'll see me. I don't want to leave this office until I've arranged to have him protect me. I want Mr. Mason to look after my interests and I want him to get a good private detective.'""And then what?" Mason asked."Then Gertie asked her name and address and the woman gave the name of M
rs. Hastings and said her present address wasn't important."So Gertie wrote down the name and went back to her magazine reading. The woman sat down in that big chair by the window."After a few minutes the woman got up and started pacing the floor. Thenshe said, 'I'll be back in a minute or two,' opened the door and stepped out inthe corridor.""And then?" Mason asked."That's all," Della Street said. "She never came back.""Oh well," Mason said, "she'll be showing up any minute now. What did she look like, Della?""Gertie was a little vague. She said that she had an aristocratic bearing, a good figure, a well-modulated voice and slender, tapering fingers. She thinks she was about thirty-two or thirty-three years old, but the woman was wearinghuge dark glasses and Gertie couldn't tell very much about her features."Gertie told me that she was wearing the dark glasses because she had been crying. I asked her how she knew and she said, well, she thought the tone ofthe woman's voice indicated that she'd been crying. It had a sort of rasp to it.""Leave it to Gertie," Mason said. "Aristocratic bearing, slender, tapering fingers, well-modulated voice-- Do you suppose, Della, that by any chance Gertie has transposed the description of the heroine in the love story she was reading, to our client?""I wouldn't put it past her," Della said. "Gertie's usually pretty observing but during the noon hour when she's reading one of those love stories she'sgot her head way up in the pink clouds.""Well," Mason said, looking at his watch, "we'll have time to do a little more work on these proposed instructions for the jury which I want to submit to the judge in the case that's coming up next week.""There are a couple of very important letters which have been hanging fire," Della Street suggested. "They _should_ go out today.""All right." Mason sighed. "Get the letters. I know what that means, however. You'll bring in a stack of mail eighteen inches high, get the two urgent letters off the top and then tell me I really should run through the rest of thecorrespondence."Della Street smiled, left the office, and a few moments later was back,carrying a woman's black handbag."What's this?" Mason asked."This," she said, "is _something_.""Shoot," Mason said."I went to the mail file back in the stenographic office, and in comingback through the reception room noticed this bag in back of the big chair by thedoor. I asked Gertie if it was hers and she said no, she hadn't seen it before.I asked her who had been in the office carrying a handbag and after a few moments she decided it must have been this mysterious woman who called during the noon hour. The bag was right by the chair she had been occupying."Mason extended his hand and Della Street gave him the purse."Well," Mason said thoughtfully, "that's rather odd. She said she was going out for a few minutes, that she felt she was in some danger, then she didn'tcome back and it turns out she left her handbag. Of course, we don't know it'shers.""Think we should look in it?" Della Street asked. "It's heavy enough, itcould be full of gold coin."Mason regarded the exterior of the bag thoughtfully, then said, "I thinkI'll open it and see if there's a name and address, Della."The lawyer opened the bag, started to reach in, then jerked his hand back."What is it?" Della Street asked.Mason hesitated a moment, then taking a handkerchief from his pocket wrapped it over his fingers, reached in the handbag and pulled out a blued steel .38-caliber revolver.

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