Books: Master Plotter

ERIE STANLEY GARDNER

by Dorothy B. Hughes Morrow; 350 pages; $15

They used to laugh at his early efforts in the Black Mask offices. One story, The Shrieking Skeleton, was marked up as the lead piece for an issue, just to give the editor a good scare. The art of suspense did not come easily to Erie Stanley Gardner. He never did learn much about writing character, not to speak of description. But he became a master plotter and one of the most prolific and successful authors who ever lived; 82 Perry Mason novels, which have sold over 300 million copies, are...

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