Well my friends, we are back in the cozy world of Perry Mason, who always wins (OK, maybe there is that one time on TV, but haven’t read it yet). And for me, a So. Cal. native, one of the chief charms of this series is a world I vaguely remember. So this is written in 1943, and I was not around yet, but my mom was. She was 15, just moved from Brooklyn to San Pedro, and in her junior year of high school. The war was on, and it was a time of black-outs and rationing, one of which plays a role in this book.
Part of the fun of a Perry Mason book, for me, that does not happen in Los Angeles, is figuring out the pseudonyms. Palm Springs (spoiler alert – my home town) is always Palm Springs, but Bay City is Santa Monica, El Templo is El Centro, etc. So my detective instincts kicked in immediately with this one. Murder happens in mountain cabin? Check. Steep roads and streams? Check. And key plot point is that the crime may have happened in Los Angeles County or Kern County? Bingo, we have a winner! Lockwood Valley. Kenvale, the closest town, is either Frazier Park or Lake of the Woods.
So now we know where we are. (And I do know where we are. This is where we always went to play in the snow when my sons were young.) And one of the clues? One of the cars that went up that mountain road had TWO NEW TIRES! In the mid-war years, that could only mean the owner was not only rich, but was a seriously important person in the community. Alrighty then!
OK, there was some nonsense about the nature of the clock that was buried, but all that really matters is that Mason actually figured it out four pages from the end, and the killer confessed all two pages from the end, and there you are. Dodged a bullet that time around, Mason, but it was a good ride. I’ll allow it. (less)