The Case of the Velvet ClawsBy: Gardner, Erle Stanley (male)
Publisher: Pocket Books, Inc. (73)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 253: PS3513 .A6322 C294 1943
Contributor: N. Williamson
GeneralEra: 1930s Author as on Cover: Erle Stanley Gardner Geographic Locale: unnamed city in the United States Date of Publication: 1943 | Original Date: 1933 Setting: urban Motives: blackmail, adultery, murder
Perry Mason is retained by Mrs. Eva Griffin, a beautiful young woman who claims she is being blackmailed by the publisher of the scandal sheet Spicy Bits because of her romantic liaison with local political candidate Harrison Burke. Mason soom discovers that the woman's name is really Eva Belter, and the scandal sheet is owned by her husband, George C. Belter. When Belter is murdered, Mason falls under suspicion, and he must sort through a variety of friends, relatives and servants to solve the murder and clear his own name.
Perry Mason adult male, tall, broad-shouldered, criminal lawyer
Frank Locke adult male, coarse, mahogany skin, brown eyes, big nose, weak mouth, editor of Spicy Bits, a scandal sheet
Carl Griffin adult male, good-looking, businessman, George Belter's live-in nephew
Della Street adult female, late 20s, slim, pretty, Perry Mason's secretary
Paul Drake adult male, tall, long neck, protruding glassy eyes, drooping shoulders, private detective
Mrs. Veitch adult female, middle-aged, tall, bony, graying hair, deep sunken eyes, long face, high cheekbones, housekeeper
Norma Veitch adult female, early 20s, pretty, black hair, dark eyes, carefully made-up, housekeeper's daughter
George C. Belter adult male, middle-aged, late 40s, tall, heavy, businessman, secret owner of Spicy Bits
Sidney Drumm adult male, tall, thin, high cheekbones, washed out eyes, police detective
Harrison Burke adult male, tall, air of distinction, congressman
Level of Violence
the victim dies from a single gunshot wound, but other than the murder, which is not described in detail, violence is not a major focus of the plot. When the murderer is revealed, the focus is on how the murder was accomplished; there is no graphic detail of the violence of the act. There are a couple of other minor single-punch fistfights, but these are not described in any detail.
the plot turns on adultery and clandestine male-female relationships, but the sexuality is implied, not described. All characters are presumed to be heterosexual.
gender roles are quite traditional. Characters are portrayed as typical 1930s men and women. The men have the professional occupations (lawyer, detective, police detective, politician, businessman, criminal) and aggressive attitudes. The women are either employed in traditionally female jobs (secretary, housekeeper) or they do not work. The "good girls" are chaste; the "bad girls" are slutty.
characters are all presumed to be white, and there is no mention of race or non-white characters in the novel.
a couple of the characters are seen entering or leaving speakeasies, but the novel never takes us inside. There is one scene where a character, who is finally revealed as the murderer, is conspicuously drunk; that drunkenness was employed as a cover when he committed the murder.
Perry Mason, a lawyer, and Paul Drake, a private detective, do all of the work which results in actually solving the murder. The local police are prominently involved in investigating the murder, but they need Mason's help to uncover what really happened.
Law and Lawyers/ Mason, Perry/ Murder/ Adultery/ Blackmail