This is part of the Alphabet of Crime Fiction series. Big thanks to Kerrie for doing the leg work. You can show your appreciation by heading on over to Mysteries in Paradise and either signing up or cheering everyone on.
E is for Erle Stanley Gardner
Erle Stanley Gardner was an American lawyer and author of detective stories. He is probably best known for Perry Mason, his no-holds-barred criminal attorney whose courtroom theatricals and penchant for pulling the rabbit (or the real criminal) out of the hat at the last moment has endeared him to millions of fans around the world. Gardner was born on the east coast (Massachusetts), moved to the midwest (Indiana) for law school and ultimately settled on the West Coast (California). Perhaps it is this spread of experiences that is reflected in his stories where the characters often show up from other areas of the country, often moving to LA to try their luck in hollywood, or simply drifting through the country till they get to the coast and have nowhere else to go.
Far more than his novels, perhaps Gardner’s greatest contribution has been in two areas – the popularization of scientific approaches to investigative work in general and forensics in particular, and The Court of Last Resort – the forerunner to the present day The Innocence Project. Gardner used his connections within the legal, forensic and detective communities to look into cases involving the miscarriage of justice either due to poor legal representation or the actions (malicious or otherwise) of the investigators, prosecutors or the forensic technicians involved. He didn’t just write books, he used them to make a difference in the world.
P. S. – The Perry Mason series is wonderful and if you haven’t read any of them, I strongly recommend you do. Along with Christie, these are the only books I collect.
Factoid that makes my jaw drop: According to Wikipedia, early on in his career, Gardner set himself a goal of writing 66,000 words a week! The article doesn’t go on to say how long he kept that up but since he has over 80 books in the Perry Mason canon alone, I’d say he came pretty close.