ERLE STANLEY GARDNER -The Case of the Stuttering Bishop. Perry Mason. William Morrow, hardcover, 1936. Pocket #201, paperback, January 1943. Reprinted many more times. Film: First National / Warner Brothers, 1937 (Donald Woods, Ann Dvorak, Joseph Crehan). TV adaptation: Season 2 Episode 20 of Perry Mason ( 14 March 1959.

   This isn’t a review. I never finished the book. I got only so far and I stopped. Thinking I might try again where I let off, I realized that I didn’t really remember what was going on, so I stated skimmed through from the beginning, and taking notes as I went. Herewith, the players, with appropriate page numbers:

1. Perry Mason — the kind of attorney you’d want fighting for your interests if you ever get into a legal jam, except if you’re a rich father with an wastrel son, in which case he’ll turn you down flat, no matter much fee he could charge.

1. Bishop William Mallory — a visitor from Australia who comes to Mason as a client, wishing to know about the statute of limitations in a manslaughter case; the problem is, he stutters — is he a real bishop?

5. Della Street — Mason’s highly trusted personal secretary; they go out together for the occasional meal and dancing, but any closer on a personal basis, they never get.

7. Paul Drake — head of a private detective agency with seemingly unlimited manpower at his beck and call; Mason hires him to check out the bishop as well as any manslaughter cases still open from 22 years before.

10. a cab driver — the one who brought the bishop to Mason’s building; he was asked to wait, but the bishop seems to have gone out a back way without paying the fare.

11. Jackson — Mason’s law clerk, a quite capable individual, but a non-factor in this story.

12. Jim Pauley — house detective at the hotel where the bishop is checked in; he has a sharp eye: he noticed someone following the bishop when he went out, and a redheaded dame who was waiting for him when he returned; when she leaves, he goes up to the bishop’s room and discovers a fight has taken place in the bishop’s room and the bishop concussed (and sent to the hospital).

17. Charlie Downes — one of Drake’s operatives who was following the bishop, then the redhead.

19. Janice Seaton — the aforementioned redhead; she claims she’s a trained nurse who answered an ad placed in a newspaper by the bishop; she found the bishop injured, treated him and left him in bed.

27. Renwold C.Brownley, Oscar Brownley (son), and Julia Branner, who married Oscar 22 years before [as reported by Paul Drake] — but while the latter was driving their car after getting married, she hit and killed a man; hence the (trumped up) manslaughter charges. Oscar is now dead, but the girl thought to be his daughter is living with Renwold; the girl’s mother is still a fugitive from justice.

32. Philip Brownley — [as Perry tells Della] a grandson of Renwold also living with him.

33. Janice Alma Brownley — [as Della tells Perry] Renwold’s granddaughter, who was on the same ship as the bishop as he traveled from Australia to the US; did the bishop suspect she was an imposter?

44. Julia Branner — in person, in Mason’s office; on the advice of the bishop, she is hoping to hire him as her attorney. The bishop has told her that the girl claiming to be her daughter (and Renwold’s granddaughter) is a fraud.

   From here, it gets complicated. When Renwold Brownley is supposedly shot and killed, no body can be found, in spite of eyewitnesses to the shooting. And what’s worse, the story that Mason’s client tells gets sounds fishier and fishier.