A surprise arrives from Paris

September 28, 2009

French edition published 1955

French edition published in 1955

One would expect a present from Paris to be something fashionably unique or distinctively European; however, I knew the gift on its way to me would be nothing of the sort, rather of literary interest. In an advance, foreshadowing email, LS said, “You won’t believe what I found!”

LS is my friend whose adventures in Europe take her to Italy this week. Last week she was in Paris.  At une bouquiniste along the Seine near Notre Dame she found two Perry Mason paperbacks in French:

La Nudiste Navarée, published in the U.S. as The Case of the Sun Bather’s Diary, and

La Vamp aux Yeux Verts, published in the U.S. as The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister.

Perhaps you’ll stop reading now (ho hum, eh?), but for me they produced a squeal of delight greater than any French perfume or bauble would evoke.

I collect Perry Mason crime novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner. Raymond Burr as Perry Mason on  TV from 1957 to 1966 coerced the guilty to confess on the stand, and I watched the black and white drama addictively. I never read the books, though.  I didn’t realize they even existed until a year ago when I stumbled upon The Case of the Deadly Toy. That’s when the hunt began.

At this point the collection is a messy, unsorted stack of paperbacks with a few tattered hardbound copies. The addition of two French editions now gives it some class. I never imagined Perry would be found in Paris.

On a final note: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited the TV drama “Perry Mason” as a childhood inspiration during her confirmation hearings.

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