Cover image for I dreamed I married Perry Mason
Title:
I dreamed I married Perry Mason
Author:
Kandel, Susan, 1961-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow/HarperCollins, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
280 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Cece Caruso mystery"--Jacket.
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780060581053
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

All that writer Cece Caruso -- a thirty-nine-year-old former beauty queen from New Jersey -- really wants to do is finish her biography of Erle Stanley Gardner so that she can finally stop obsessing about Perry Mason. Well, that and find a 1970 silk chiffon Ossie Clark to add to her collection of vintage clothing. And fix the broken front doorknob on her West Hollywood bungalow. But first she has to help save her daughter's foundering marriage, which is more than Cece could manage for her own.

Everybody's got problems. In a last-ditch effort to kick a bad case of writer's block, Cece pays a visit to a prison inmate who had once corresponded with Gardner, pleading his innocence. Her impetuousness lands her smack in the middle of a case worthy of Perry Mason himself -- a double-edged mystery linking a forty-year-old murder to one where the body is still warm. Propelled by tenacity, curiosity, a sense of humor, and an understanding of human nature's dark side, Cece will channel the inner sleuth she never realized she possessed to find a killer who is all too real -- and all too close.

I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason is hip, sexy, and smart. Susan Kandel has created an unforgettable cast of characters planted firmly in terra California. Join Cece as she breaks into crime scenes, outfoxes lawyers, rekindles a romance with a police detective, and -- oh, yes -- finally makes her peace with Perry Mason.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

All former Jersey beauty queen Cece Caruso really wants to do is finish her biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, "creator of the brilliant, unflappable Perry Mason," but in art journalist Kandel's entertaining, often witty debut, she must contend with a few distractions, including murder. Once he became a famous writer, Gardner for a while took on "hopeless cases." In the Gardner archives, Cece stumbles across a misfiled 1958 letter from Joseph Albacco, who had recently been convicted and imprisoned for murdering his wife. Claiming his innocence, Albacco begged Gardner to intervene and track down the real killer, but the author never did. Intrigued, Cece is determined to find the truth in a scenario complicated enough to challenge Perry Mason himself, and soon finds herself involved in a fresh murder linked to the long-ago crime. Meanwhile, she worries about her daughter Annie, whose marriage seems about to implode, and never misses a chance to add to her sizeable collection of vintage clothing. Though the denouement is a bit over-the-top, readers should give Cece a warm welcome to the legion of perky female sleuths. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (June 1) Forecast: The words "Perry Mason" in the title are sure to attract older browsers who fondly remember the popular TV show starring Raymond Burr, not to mention Gardner fans. Blurbs from Carolyn Hart and Rochelle Krich won't hurt. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Los Angeles denizen and vintage clothing collector Cece Caruso writes biographies of mystery authors. While working on a life of Erle Stanley Gardner, she discovers an old letter that involves her in a 1950s murder case-for which a man may have been wrongfully incarcerated. Cece's adventures take her from prison to a Montecito mansion, from wronged prisoner to lustfully attractive house restorer. When murder strikes a woman closely connected to the case, Cece's search becomes desperate. This lively and slightly idiosyncratic heroine, the sometimes exotic California surrounds, and the complicated plotting make this series debut essential. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Cece Caruso is an entertaining amateur detective who writes biographies of mystery writers for a living, collects vintage clothing, and lives in a West Hollywood bungalow. Thirty-nine and divorced, she has a 21-year-old daughter who works on a "Star Trek clone" TV show, as well as two brothers ("both cops") and a quirky mother living nearby. Her current project is a biography of Earl Stanley Gardner, who besides being a writer was a Southern California lawyer specializing in strangely marginal cases. In the process of going through some of his documents, Cece discovers what appears to be an unsolved case that has left an innocent man in jail since the 1950s. While investigating this case and researching her book, she travels the Southern California highways. One of Kandel's strengths is her ability to bring back to life the lost towns, social scenes, and landscapes of the past. Cece's knowledge of the area's social and economic history turns out to be a key in unraveling the long-dormant mystery. The protagonist is bright, funny, and hip, with upscale but unconventional tastes and a literary talent. This is an author and a heroine who will appeal to fans of Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich, and to those who enjoy the California settings and lighter aspects of Sue Grafton's mysteries.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason A Cece Caruso Mystery Chapter One What a pity my vintage Maud Frizon pumps didn't come with steel-reinforced toes. Lace stilettoes are not the best defense against a case of gourmet cat food moving inexorably toward zero-degree gravity. Why on earth did I ever buy in bulk? "You okay?" asked my gardener, Javier, who was fixing a downed sprinkler head on my small but velvety front lawn. "I'm fine, just ignore me," I moaned, rubbing what was left of my foot. "What about the snails?" Javier checked the bowl of beer I had put out last night. I wasn't being a good hostess (I drew the line at cheese and crackers), but I had tried everything else, including mailorder carnivorous snails bred to destroy their herbivorous cousins. I'd been ready to give up entirely on my ornamental cabbages when I'd heard the mere smell of beer lured the monsters to their deaths. "Sorry. No bodies." I kicked the door open with my good foot, greeted Mimi, the cat indirectly responsible for my suffering, and Buster, my teacup poodle, dumped the grocery bags on the kitchen table, and upset a half-drunk cup of cold coffee. I decided against wiping it up just then (that would mean finding the paper towels) and hit the button on the answering machine. BEEP. "Hi, it's Lael. You won't believe it -- " Actually, I would. Lael was my best friend in the world and an extraordinary person, but she had a unique talent for disaster. I'd listen to the rest after a shower and perhaps some meditation. I don't meditate, but I keep thinking I should start. Sidestepping the coffee now dripping onto the floor, I went into the bedroom and took off my favorite suit, a black Joan Crawford-esque number I'd found at an estate sale with Lael, who'd zeroed in on an almost complete and barely chipped set of Wedgwood lusterware. She'd tried to talk me into removing the suit's shoulder pads, but I liked the linebacker/diva effect -- not to mention that you don't mess around with a classic silhouette. But I suppose Lael and I are different that way. I am obsessed with clothes, and she is the kind of beautiful woman who doesn't need to be. I picked my robe up off the bathroom floor and turned on the water, which took precisely three and a half minutes to warm up. My West Hollywood bungalow, purchased nine years ago with the proceeds from my divorce settlement, was like a Stradivarius -- the 1932 Spanish had amazing art deco details, but woe to she disrespectful of its myriad quirks. Like the temperamental plumbing, for one thing. Or the sloping floor in the kitchen, which meant that anything heated on the stove top would migrate to the right side of the pot. Or the front door's inlaid brass knob, which pulled off pretty much every time you tried to open the door from the inside. Visitors seemed to find this latter idiosyncrasy particularly unnerving. BEEP. "This is George at Kleiner's. The new motor for your fountain is in. Listen, the old one was really filthy. You have to clean it out twice a week like I told you, especially when the Santa Anas are blowing all that muck around." What George didn't know was that my fountain was of the same vintage as my house, and equally volatile. Also, that the portentous Santa Ana winds were invented by Raymond Chandler purely for literary purposes. BEEP. "Call your mother." BEEP. "Please call your mother, dear. I have no idea where you are." BEEP. "Cece, it's Richie. Call Mom, for god's sake. She's cleaning the attic again, and doesn't know what to do with your stuff. Do you want to keep your crown? Joanne and the kids send their love." Like all good Italian boys, my brothers, Richie and James Jr., worshiped their mother. I was somewhat more ambivalent. This the boys understood from an early age, which meant I'd spent my childhood at the mercy of a pair of pintsize enforcers. They became cops, just like our dad. I became a beauty queen. But for the record, my reign as Miss Asbury Park, New Jersey, was short-lived and utterly lamentable. Mom could use my crown to plunge the toilet for all I cared. More likely she'd wear it to a church potluck. She'd always harbored the belief that she'd been switched at birth and was really royalty, or Frank Sinatra's sister at least. BEEP. "Hello, I'm returning Cece's call. Listen, Cece, if you're there, I have a vagabond virgin, a negligent nymph, a hesitant hostess, and a borrowed brunette for you. So, are you a madam or a mystery buff ? But seriously, folks, they're five dollars apiece, paperback reprints." Everyone's a comedian. "I've got a first edition of The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece , but I don't think you want it. There's some water damage on the sleeve, but it's still pretty pricey. Ditto The Case of the Curious Bride , which is one of the better prewar Masons, not that I'm an expert, like some people. You can order on-line or by phone. We're here until eight p.m., thanks to folks like yourself." I suppose that made it official. Even the bozo working the desk at the Mystery Manor could see that Perry Mason had stolen my life. Yes, that would be Perry Mason, the worldfamous and much-beloved attorney-at-law. To wit: I could tell you under what circumstances Perry could be persuaded to take a case (a natural blonde in distress was always a plus); his favorite expletive ("the deuce!"); how he liked his steak (broiled rare); and what he drank when he had to drive (soda water just flavored with Scotch) -- in short, as much as Della Street, his perfect jewel of a secretary, ever could. I go to bed marveling at his courtroom moves and wake up mulling his situational ethics. Some might say I'm obsessed. My answer would be it's purely business ... I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason A Cece Caruso Mystery . Copyright © by Susan Kandel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason by Susan Kandel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.