HAROLD Q. MASUR – So Rich, So Lovely, and So Dead. Scott Jordan #4. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1952. Pocket #998, paperback, 1954; cover art by; Stanley Zuckerberg. Dell D383, paperback, November 1961, as by Hal Q. Masur; cover art by Robert McGinnis. Pyramid #T2391, paperback, 1971.

   The title refers to the first victim in this mystery, the fourth book appearance of defense attorney Scott Jordan. This is unfortunate, because I’d have liked to see her alive and well quite a bit longer. She is lovely, but while still young, has been married twice, and as a result of both marriages, is worth something in the order of ten million dollars. Rich, in other words.

   And which is why she’s dead, and all too soon, because she also has a bit of sass to her. Someone wants her money – and control of her recently deceased uncle’s company – also worth a huge amount of money. But there is a catch. To obtain her inheritance she has to be married to an employee of the company by a certain date. And since her fiance’s divorce is not complete, she has to find a stand-in, a man who will agree to marry her for long enough to fulfill the provisions of the will, then step gracefully aside, well compensated, of course.

   A problem arises, however, when she is murdered while still married to the stand-in. This is the legal problems begin – not quite as complicated in a Perry Mason story, but close enough.

   One difference between Perry and Scott Jordan, is that the latter tells his own story, and he’s more active in the legal end of things, instead of manipulating the evidence, as the former is so wont to do. When it comes down to it, Perry leaves all the paperwork to Della or an occasional law clerk in his office to do. Jordan is more of a hands-on kind of guy in that regard. Perry;s biggest claim to fame are his trial scenes. There’s not a hint of a courtroom in this one by Masur.

   The latter tells his story with a smooth but by no means overly slick style of prose. He even makes the usually saggy parts in the middle of the book interesting. In spite of full contingent number of suspects with motive, I’d have to say that the actual amount of detective work involved is minimal, with the date of a missing newspaper rather important in that regard.

   I enjoyed the Scott Jordan books quite a bit when they were coming out new, every year or so for a while, and I enjoyed this one too, one I seem to have missed back then.