The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe: A Perry Mason Mystery

by Erle Stanley Gardner

Available April 5
Hardcover $25.95, paperback $15.95
Purchase this title through a local bookstore using IndieBound

After a thieving woman is accused of murder, it’s up to Perry Mason to prove her innocent

Sleuthing attorney Perry Mason can’t resist a good mystery, so when he sees an older woman being accused of shoplifting during a department store outing with his assistant, Della Street, he doesn’t hesitate to intervene. Armed with an assumption of innocence and the legal acumen to silence her accuser, Mason leaps to the woman’s defense―until her niece appears, acknowledging her aunt’s guilt, and pays for the stolen items.

Soon thereafter, Aunt Sarah is accused of stealing a valuable set of diamonds, and her niece, Virginia, enlists Mason’s aid. The man who left the jewels in Sarah’s care insists that she didn’t take them, but when he turns up dead, she’s left with nobody to vouch for her. Nobody, that is, but Perry Mason―expert in the art of defending the innocent. 

The thirteenth novel in the bestselling Perry Mason series, The Case of the Shoplifter’s Shoe is an exemplary episode for the character, featuring the complex plots, snappy dialogue, and break-neck pacing that make the novels perennial favorites of mystery fans everywhere. 

No one has ever matched Gardner for swift, sure exposition.


Gardner has a way of moving the story forward that Is almost a lost art: great stretches of dialogue alternate with lively chunks of exposition, and the two work together perfectly, without sacrificing momentum.


With Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner introduced to American letters the notion of the lawyer as a hero―and a detective―which were remarkable innovations. He even gave defense lawyers a good name to boot. His Mason books reaming tantalizing on every page and brilliant.

—Scott Turow, author of Presume Innocent and Testimony

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) was a prolific American author best known for his works centered on the lawyer-detective Perry Mason. At the time of his death in March of 1970, in Ventura, California, Gardner was “the most widely read of all American writers” and “the most widely translated author in the world,” according to social historian Russell Nye. The first Perry Mason novel, The Case of The Velvet Claws, published in 1933, had sold twenty-eight million copies in its first fifteen years. In the mid-1950s, the Perry Mason novels were selling at the rate of twenty thousand copies a day. There have been six motion pictures based on his work and the hugely popular Perry Mason television series starring Raymond Burr, which aired for nine years and 271 episodes.

As author William F. Nolan notes, “Gardner, more than any other writer, popularized the law profession for a mass-market audience, melding fact and fiction to achieve a unique blend; no one ever handled courtroom drama better than he did.”

Richard Senate further sums up the significance of Gardner’s contribution: “Although the character of Perry Mason is not unique as a ‘lawyer-sleuth,’ he is the first to come to anyone’s mind when it comes to sheer brilliance in solving courtroom-detective cases by rather unconventional means. Besides ‘Tarzan,’ ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ ‘Superman’ ? ‘Perry Mason’ qualifies as an American icon of popular culture in the twentieth century.”

Gardner’s writing has touched a lot of people including a number of high profile figures. Brian Kelleher and Diana Merrill say in their 1987 book, The Perry Mason TV Show Book that Harry S. Truman was a fan and that it is rumored that when Einstein died, a Perry Mason book was at his bedside. They further describe that when Raymond Burr met Pope John XXIII, the actor reported that the pontiff “seemed to know all about Perry Mason.” Federal judge Sonya Sotomayor frequently mentions how Perry Mason was one of her earliest influences.

Starting with his first book, Gardner had a very definite vision of the shape the Perry Mason character would take:

“I want to make my hero a fighter,” he wrote to his publisher, “not by having him be ruthless to women and underlings, but by creating a character who, with infinite patience jockeys his enemies into a position where he can deliver one good knockout punch.”