Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Case of the Spurious Spinster

cover image By: Gardner, Erle Stanley (male)
Publisher: Pocket Books, Inc. (4515)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 253: PS3513 .A6322 C2865 1963
Contributor: C. Ehlers


Era: 1960s Author as on Cover: Erle Stanley Gardner Geographic Locale: Los Angeles, California and Mojave Date of Publication: 1963  |  Original Date: 1961 Setting: urban and rural; Mojave is a desert town Motives: embezzlement, kidnapping, impersonation, murder

Plot Summary

Perry Mason and Della Street are approached by a young secretary, Susan Fisher, who needs help after discovering that her boss may be involved in some fishy matters at the Corning Mining, Smelting, and Investing Company. A shoe box full of money and the company's owner both disappear, and Miss Fisher finds herself needing Perry Mason's assistance even more. When the manager of the Mojave Monarch Mine ends up murdered, Mason has to draw on all of his expertise to prove that his client didn't commit the deadly crime.

Major Characters

Perry Mason adult male, defense attorney

Elizabeth Dow adult female, solid, angular figure, governess

Cindy Hastings adult female, middle-aged, angular high cheekbones, prominent jaw, firm mouth, horse-faced, nurse and friend to Elizabeth Dow

Della Street adult female, beautiful eyes, great figure, Perry Mason's secretary

Paul Drake adult male, tall, dark, handsome, private detective and owner of the Drake Detective Agency

Kenneth Lowry "Ken," adult male, early 40s, grizzled leathery face, gray eyes, manager of the Mojave Monarch Mine

Susan Fisher "Sue," adult female, 24 years old, nice figure, modest and demure looking, dark chestnut hair, dark eyes, confidential secretary at the Corning Mining, Smelting, and Investing Company

Carleton Campbell child, male, 7 years old

Amelia Corning adult female, middle-aged, long bony chin, firm straight nose, high cheekbones, large dark blue glasses, bony fingers, wheelchair-ridden, owner of the Corning Mining, Smelting, and Investing Company

Endicott Campbell adult male, late 30s, powerful neck, heavy jaw, thick eyebrows, broad shoulders, slim waist, manager of the Corning Mining, Smelting, and Investing Company

Sophia Elliott adult female, mid-40s, portly, Amelia Corning's sister

Alfredo Gomez adult male, Hispanic/South American, dapper, dark hair and eyes, short mustache, Amelia Corning's business agent

Lieutenant Tragg adult male, dour, Los Angeles Police Department lieutenant


letter opener

Level of Violence

violence is never explicit, but is implied. None of the violent crimes are described; neither the murder of Ken Lowry nor Amelia Corning's kidnapping.


he only type of sexual activity that is depicted is a scene in which Della Street and Perry Mason are about to kiss when they are interrupted. It is implied that they have a romantic relationship. Two other instances of sexuality involve Della Street flirting with other men to get information needed by Mason. She flirts with a gas station attendant and with Ken Lowry in order to either get them to cooperate or gather information.

Gender Roles

both traditional and progressive gender roles are found in the novel. Women are in subservient positions -- secretary, governess and nurse, but are also in positions of power -- company owner. Men are depicted as being in charge -- attorney, judge, police lieutenant, managers. Women's physical descriptions are more detailed than men's.


none evident

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

alcohol is mentioned three times. Della Street and Perry Mason have drinks at the start of the novel, Mason would like to go for a drink but is talked into dinner by Della, and Sue Fisher stops to have a drink to settle her nerves after sneaking out to meet Amelia Corning.

Law Enforcement

the agency involved with Ken Lowry's murder is the Los Angeles Police Department. Nameless officers are mentioned, but Lt. Tragg is the only one specifically named. Paul Drake's private detective agency is used by Perry Mason to help him gather information.

Added Features

in the book's foreward, Gardner dedicates the novel to Richard O. Myers, M.D., a specialist in forensic pathology, praising his work as a skilled professional dedicated to improving the administration of justice.

Subject Headings

California - Los Angeles/ Law and Lawyers/ Mason, Perry/ Kidnapping/ Murder/ Embezzlement