Erle Stanley Gardner. The Case of
the Backward Mule (1946) 250 pp.
Terry Clane, an expert in the ways of the Orient, returns to San Francisco
after another extended stay in China and is promptly picked up by the police.
His former girlfriend, Cynthia Renton, is being sought for questioning.
Her fiancé, Edward Harold, who has been convicted of murder of businessman
Horace Farnsworth and sentenced to the gas chamber at San Quentin, has
just escaped police custody and is a fugitive. Clane, with the help of
several Chinese friends, turns amateur sleuth in order to protect Cynthia
and help Harold, who he believes is innocent and stands a good chance of
having his conviction overturned on appeal. With the police following him,
Clane uncovers another murder and leads them on a chase through the dark
alleyways and secret passages of Chinatown before he solves the mystery.