I have just become aware that the many novels in The Saint series are being republished. About half are out now, with the other half due at the end of the month. With so many, it was definitely a good move to publish in chunks instead of just one or two at a time.
Armed with this intriguing news, I started wondering if there might possibly be some activity on the Perry Mason book front as well. So I went to look. It seems some of the books are now available as Kindle editions to be downloaded? If anyone likes the idea of E-books and has a Kindle, it would be worth looking into. Me, I still prefer traditional books.
Some of them appear to be available in hardback editions in addition to E-books, and they seem to be shiny and new, as they are offered by Amazon proper and not just in the Marketplace. The paperback versions, unfortunately, do not seem to be getting republished. Hardbacks are lovely, but so expensive! I did see at least one paperback that appears to be available new, The Horrified Heirs. It’s an edition from 1995. The title amuses me more than it probably should.
I believe I heard that The Saint television series adapted every one of the original novels in some way. That information might be incorrect, but in any case I’ve been curious more than once over why Perry didn’t do the same thing. The Horrified Heirs is one that was never a television episode, as are quite a few others.
Not that I’m complaining, really; I greatly enjoy most of the screenplays that were not books first. But I just wonder why they didn’t want to adapt all of the Perry books.
With the 11th as the anniversary of Ray Collins’ death, I have been planning a Tragg post. It’s been a great deal of fun re-watching his scenes in season 1. He is one of the best things about the early episodes: snarky and cynical, always with a hilarious quip or two for Perry. But, being a very three-dimensional character, he also shows a very gentle and compassionate side when needed. The Fugitive Nurse is one of my favorite examples of that, as is season 4’s The Loquacious Liar. He speaks so kindly to the widows of the murder victims, showing definite awareness of their feelings and their fragile states.
I find it interesting how often Perry turns to Tragg when he needs help from the prosecuting side. At this point in time, he apparently knows or at least feels that he cannot go to Hamilton for such help. Perhaps he honestly doesn’t want to, either, as I recall him saying in one season 1 episode that he deliberately left Hamilton guessing about the identity of the murderer because he wasn’t about to admit that Hamilton had been right about something. I think it might be the footprints episode? That one should be coming up soon, but I can’t remember its name.
Anyway, it shows an interesting bit of apparent pride on Perry’s part. He’s not just a squeaky-clean victim of Hamilton’s wild accusations. Sometimes the accusations are at least partially deserved, and sometimes, it would seem, Perry can be a bit petty and just doesn’t want to do anything that nice towards Hamilton (although I suppose it could be argued that Perry’s reasoning is that he thinks if he admits Hamilton was right on something, Hamilton will become all the more overconfident). But the problems between them are on both sides.
Tragg is right in the middle of it all. On the one hand, he works closely with Hamilton on putting the cases together. He’s on the prosecuting side and to that end, is Perry’s adversary. On the other hand, even when Hamilton isn’t that willing to associate with Perry any more than he has to, Tragg will sometimes just drop in for a little visit during or after a case. He respects Perry and is intrigued by how his mind works, whereas Hamilton is endlessly frustrated by such—albeit even in some early episodes he shows a certain interest for how Perry solves some of the cases.
Perry reciprocates by trusting Tragg at multiple times and sometimes taking him into a confidence. A large part of The Silent Partner involves Perry and Tragg working together on the puzzling case. Of course, there’s also the epic climax of The Moth-Eaten Mink, with Perry telling Tragg of his suspicions off-camera and bringing Tragg back to the office to wait for the confrontation with the murderer. And there are several other occasions in the early episodes where Perry drops in at Tragg’s office or calls him for assistance on a particular matter or to present a theory to him.
One of my favorite elements of the series has always been Perry and Hamilton’s friendship. But Perry and Tragg really have a great one too, and one that shines quite some time before we see Perry and Hamilton’s really begin to grow.
It’s true—Tragg’s quiet disappearance from the series left quite a lonely gap. The episodes are definitely missing something without him there. Perry doesn’t match wits and barbs with the other police like he does with Tragg. I love the others dearly, but naturally they can’t fully replace such a unique and wonderful character. I’m still very glad the writers didn’t even attempt such a thing and took a different path for the others. Really, there can only be one Tragg for this version of Perry Mason. Ray Collins just took on the role so beautifully and immortalized the character.
Dane Clark did very well when he tried playing Tragg in the 1970’s remake, making the character his own. Luckily, he didn’t struggle to emulate Ray Collins. That would have been a disaster. Ray Collins was one of a kind, a true individual. And when Perry fans think of our beloved Lieutenant Tragg, it is almost always Ray Collins’ interpretation in our minds.
Ray Collins left us on July 11th, 1965, but the characters he brought into existence live on.