Can we learn from the past?

A writer friend has been studying the old Perry Mason books and encouraged me to do the same. I started one, and realized I was reading a master. Maybe not War and Peace ( which I have never finished, I confess, maybe because I was reading it in a French translation), but the hand of a master storyteller is sure and steady. Earl Stanley Gardner is teaching me a lot, and I'm an old hand at this game.

A few quick impressions---

1. Quick character descriptions: sketches that give you a nail on which to hang your assessments.

2. A fast hook to reel you in as a reader. Prospective client, a man we know is wealthy and accustomed to getting his way, to PM: "I want you to find a gold fish." Okaayyyy....I'm intrigued, ecen if Mason isn't at first feelin' it.

3. Short, snappy dialogue. Elmore Leonard-esque.

4. Short chapters, one leading swiftly into the next. Back story is brief and cuts to the chase.

5. The whole book isn't too long. No leisurely, beautiful sentences. No artistic exposition. Just the story, ma'am, just the story. (Where did that come from? Dragnet?)

More later. . . .