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The Case of the Perjured Parrot

The Case of the Perjured Parrot - Erle Stanley Gardner

Parrots became strongly associated with pirates. No modern pirate dares calls himself such without a parrot sitting on his shoulder. Other traditional accessories like a pegleg and an eye patch are optional, but the bird is a must. I think Long John Silver from Treasure Island started the trend.  

Long John Silver

This tale however is not about pirates. 


The most interesting part about the story is that the original development has little in common with what happened afterwards thanks to traditional for Perry Mason novels plot twists. A guy whose millionaire father was recently murdered came into Mason's office asking to help him to keep the inheritance. The millionaire in question was married a second time and it was fairly obvious the woman was married for money (you see the rich people have this problem: they can never be sure their spouses have any romantic feelings for them). Now the widow would stop at nothing to keep the money from her stepson who was sure he is about to get the short end of the deal. 


Where does the parrot come in?

A parrot

He was the only witness of the murder of his owner. As Mason mentioned the bird cannot be sworn in the courtroom and thus can lie its head off during the trial without any legal repercussions. The problem was, it practically spelled the name of the murderer, but can you trust the bird? Even though as far as being smart parrots share the highest ranking among all birds with crows. The police seems to think so, Mason does not. 


This installment was somewhat disappointing for me. Mason solved the vast majority of the case and explained everything - except for the final surprising twist - during the coroner inquest. I am not very familiar with such, but according to the book they tend to be short: simplified version of the real court hearing. As a result Mason did not get his chance to cross-examine the people on the witness stand - something he is an undisputed king of. Such cross-examinations make up for the most excitement of the series and their absence here is very much noticeable. 


As you can easily guess the mystery which can be solved during a simple proceeding cannot be very complicated and this is exactly the case here. It made me feel like the last part of the book was too slow at getting to the point and even the last very much unexpected plot twist had not help much. I called it unexpected, but I actually suspected something like this might happen. I sound too vague, but I cannot clearly speak about something that happened on the last page of a mystery novel, can I? 


The story is still by no means bad and fully deserve solid 3 stars. It is just that the series has much better entries.