We all know the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Unlike his Biblical counterpart the guy in this tale named Alden Leeds struck gold – literally. So he became rich and came back to the loving embrace of his family. After all, who would not want to have a rich relative?
Especially a dying rich relative? Leeds however disappointed his heirs-to-be by not only staying alive and kicking, but also deciding to get married. Obviously for the relatives marriage meant kissing their dream of getting rich quick goodbye. Such people can become really dangerous really fast.
Luckily for Leeds he had a niece who had a rebel idea that the guy was entitled to spend his money the way he wanted, even by marrying a woman who looked like a typical gold-digger. She hired Perry Mason to protect the interests of her uncle. As everybody familiar with the series knows Mason is not shy about charging for his services – and delivering too, but that is another story. This time Mason really earned his money, the hard way.
First he had to extract Leeds from the mental asylum where his loving relatives put him. The moment the guy was free (he escaped before Mason overcame the legal obstacles) he became a prime murder suspect with police happily adjusting the evidence to secure the conviction.
Mason had to untangle a very complicated tale involving Gold Rush, loaded dice, a blackmail, a former bar dancing girl, a doctor with dubious reputation, and of cause deadly loving relatives. I always say the amount of red herrings in a Perry Mason mystery is very high. This time it was close to overload.
It did not help any that Mason himself threw a couple of them just to keep the police busy and happy. The mystery can be solved before it is explained if you manage to see the truth behind all the red herrings, but I wish you good luck with this.
Two other things are of note. A private detective Paul Drake, another main character of the series who does the legwork for Mason finally was able to get to eat in style - the way high-class lawyers eat - a couple of times. He usually had to have a low-quality sandwich while Mason was eating in a good restaurant. I always felt pity for him because of this.
Mason usually tends to leave the prosecution look somewhat foolish in the courtroom thanks to his brilliant performances. This time he literally humiliated the guy who fully deserved it to be honest. The moral of the story: do not get Mason pissed-off. It is hard to do, but if you manage it – watch out.
To summarize: a good entertaining mystery which most probably will keep you guessing to the end. It is quite on the level with the rest of the books of the series.