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I recently watched the new HBO Perry Mason series, and that sent me to the original Raymond Burr series (found at IMDb TV). Then I realized I'd never read the original books and found the first one online, or you can listen to it at the bottom of this post. The Case of the Velvet Claws is by Erle Stanley Gardner. It begins,
Autumn sun beat against the window.
Perry Mason sat at the big desk. There was about him the attitude of one who is waiting. His face in repose was like the face of a chess player who is studying the board. That face seldom changed expression. Only the eyes changed expression. He gave the impression of being a thinker and a fighter, a man who could work with infinite patience to jockey an adversary into just the right position, and then finish him with one terrific punch.
Book cases, filled with leather-backed books, lined the walls of the room. A big safe was in one corner. There were two chairs, in addition to the swivel chair which Perry Mason occupied. The office held an atmosphere of plain, rugged efficiency, as though it had absorbed something of the personality of the man who occupied it.
The door to the outer office opened, and Della Street, his secretary, eased her way into the room and closed the door behind her.
“A woman,” she said, “who claims to be a Mrs. Eva Griffin.” Perry Mason looked at the girl with level eyes.
“And you don’t think she is?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“She looks phony to me,” she said. “I’ve looked up the Griffins in the telephone book. And there isn’t any Griffin who has an address like the one she gave. I looked in the City Directory, and got the same result. There are a lot of Griffins, but I don’t find any Eva Griffin. And I don’t find any at her address.”
“What was the address?” asked Mason.
“2271 Grove Street,” she said.
Perry Mason made a notation on a slip of paper.
“I’ll see her,” he said.
“Okay,” said Della Street. “I just wanted you to know that she looks phony to me.”
Della Street was slim of figure, steady of eye; a young woman of approximately twenty-seven, who gave the impression of watching life with keenly appreciative eyes and seeing far below the surface.
She remained standing in the doorway eyeing Perry Mason with quiet insistence. “I wish,” she said, “that you’d find out who she really is before we do anything for her.”
“A hunch?” asked Perry Mason.
“You might call it that,” she said, smiling.
Perry Mason nodded. His face had not changed expression. Only his eyes had become warily watchful.
“All right, send her in, and I’ll take a look at her myself.”
Della Street closed the door as she went out, keeping a hand on the knob, however. Within a few seconds, the knob turned the door opened, and a woman walked into the room with an air of easy assurance.
She was in her early thirties, or perhaps, her late twenties—well groomed, and giving an appearance of being exceedingly well cared for. She flashed a swiftly appraising glance about the office before she looked at the man seated behind the desk.
“Come in and sit down,” said Perry Mason.
She looked at him then, and there was a faint expression of annoyance upon her face. ...