Perry Mason and Doc Savage

My grandfather loved reading Perry Mason (and watching Raymond Burr’s version of him on TV) so I grew up familiar with Perry. It wasn’t until later years that I started reading all the books though, because the legalese in the cases threw me of in my youthful attempts to read them.

Was recently reading some of the series and I found some interesting parallels between Perry Mason and Doc Savage. Besides his large size, Perry Mason is a tough-talking, two-fisted pulp era lawyer who is often described as a gladiator, a prizefighter, and a for-hire warrior (legal mercenary?). Now, he prefers mental battles and strategy, but never backs down and will do what it takes to solve a case. He also operate alone, despite having a couple of assistants who help him but that he often shields from danger and from knowing too much about his cases. Furthermore, just as Doc Savage who was a master of all forms of physical combat and expert marksman yet refused to carry a weapon because it bred a psychological dependency, and so typically eschewed physical combat if at all possible, Perry Mason also declines to carry a gun.

In the book The Case of the Howling Dog (1934), we have this scene between Perry and his partner, Private Investigator Paul Drake:

Paul Drake shook his head lugubriously.
“You take the damndest chances,” he said. “You’d better have me go out there with you.”
“No,” Mason told him, “I’m going out there alone.”
“All right,”the detective said, “let me give you a tip, then. You’d better go prepared for trouble. That man’s in a dangerous mood.”
“What do you mean prepared for trouble?”
“Carry a gun,” the detective said.
Perry Mason shook his head.
“I carry my two fists,” he said, “and my wits. I fight with those. Sometimes I carry a gun, but I don’t make a practice of it. It’s bad training. It teaches one to rely entirely on a gun. Force should only be a last resort.”

Doc Savage couldn’t have said it better.


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