Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Books of 1946: Murder Within Murder by Richard and Frances Lockridge


The Mr. & Mrs. North series features a married couple, Jerry and Pam, who often solve crimes with Lieutenant Bill Weigand. Thus the series is half amateur sleuth / half police procedural, and I think that is why I like them. They are often described as light and breezy mysteries. Usually I prefer a more serious tone, but for some reason I like the Mr. and Mrs North series.

Murder Within Murder is the 10th book in the series and was published in 1946. As it is set following World War II, there are indications of how life has changed due to that event. In this story, an employee of Jerry's is murdered in the public library. Miss Amelia Gipson was a retired teacher who had doing research on a book for Jerry's firm. Lieutenant Weigand asked Jerry to formally identify her.

I did read some books from this series when I was younger and I remember liking them. Some of my enjoyment when I read them now is probably nostalgia. I lucked out choosing this as the first one to read in many, many years. Even with some annoying elements, it has a lot going for it. The story is complex. The secondary characters are interesting.

The couple reminded me of Nick and Nora Charles (of The Thin Man) in that they drink an awful lot of alcohol. Unlike Nick and Nora, they are not rich, but they do have a surprising amount of free time to follow their policeman friend around. Pam smokes a lot too. This surprised me only because where I grew up (the South) in the 1940 and 50's, it was unusual for women to smoke.

I mentioned earlier some things I found annoying. Pam is kind of ditzy, and that doesn't appeal to me. I don't mean she is dumb, but she senses things or has an intuition.

I was surprised that there were no racial slurs in this book, given its age, but Sergio at Tipping My Fedora did note the presence of such in an earlier book, Death on the Aisle.

A quote from an article at the Golden Age of Detection Wiki:
The biggest strength of the North novels are the people in them. Pam and Jerry North are appealing human beings, and so are most of the suspects in the story. Unlike some detective authors, who mainly write about nasty characters, the denizens of a North tale tend to be civilized, intelligent, decent people. They are people whom one would love to know in real life.
Not everyone would agree with that assessment, but I do think it explains a lot of the popularity of this series.

This is a mystery novel from 1946 – my contribution to Rich Westwood’s regular monthly meme at the Past Offences blog. I received my copy as a prize from Bev at My Reader's Block. I was thrilled to get this post-war mystery in an edition with a skull on the cover. Bev's review is here. She goes into more detail on the plot.

 -----------------------------

Publisher:   Pocket Books, 1982 (orig. pub. 1946)
Length:       207 pages
Format:       Paperback
Series:        Mr. & Mrs. North, #10
Setting:       New York City
Genre:        Mystery
Source:       Received as a prize.

22 comments:

  1. I've never heard of the authors or the books. Probably not my cup of teas, though I don't dislike the sound of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Col, probably not your cup of tea. Richard Lockridge wrote some mystery novels alone, and they may be somewhat different. I plan to try some of those too.

      Delete
  2. Tracy, I'll probably try the North series at some point but not just yet owing to a never receding backlog of books and ebooks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you would like them, Prashant. I understand about the backlog of books.

      Delete
  3. Tracy - I'm really glad you featured one of the Mr. and Mrs. North series. It's a nice mix of amateur/police sleuthing, and you've reminded me that it's been toooooo long since I thought of that series. I must do a spotlight on one of those novels...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it would be great if you did a spotlight on that series. Or other series by the authors. I am curious about there other series too. I do think it is a good balance of amateur detecting and police procedures, at least in this book.

      Delete
  4. Tracy, I got this book from Bev too! Haven't read it yet though. They did a radio show and a TV show back in the day with these characters. Here's a link to the radio shows https://archive.org/details/MrandMrsNorth and the TV shows you can watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI3sf8NRQtQ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did know that there was a TV series but had not looked around to see if they were available. Thanks for the links, Peggy. How funny that you also got this book from Bev. She really likes this series.

      Delete
  5. I've known about these books for years - though I think they are much-betther-known in the USA than here in the UK. I've never read any of them, and must put that right some time. This one sounds good. Great choice for your 1946 book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you would like them, Moira. I can understand why they would be better known here. I like the setting of New York City. Some clothing descriptions too.

      Delete
  6. I should give the series another go I think - thanks TracyK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a few more Mr. and Mrs. North novels and two Nathan Shapiro novels (which are only by Richard). And there is a Lt. Heimrich series. So I want to try a few more too. And some of the paperbacks have lovely covers.

      Delete
  7. I need to finish reading The Thin Man by Hammett. Yes, they did drink a lot of alcohol. Never heard of this series so thanks! I take it you can read this out of order?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure you can read this out of order, Keishon. I must have when I was younger. Hope you like the books, but definitely worth trying at least one.

      Delete
  8. I have this very edition, though I haven't gotten to it yet, only the first three have been read. Not a series I'd read back-to-back, and then other books lead to still other books and before long things like this series get forgotten. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, I know so much what you mean about one book leading to other books. I have many books I bought years ago unread.

      I agree about not reading this series back to back, it is the type of series you can get tired of if read that way.

      Delete
  9. I haven't read anything from this author duo so thanks for the review Tracy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well worth a try, Neer. I think the books would appeal to you.

      Delete
  10. Interesting book by a couple I haven't read-- that's the great thing about the meme.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Rebecca, picking up on more vintage authors is a benefit of the meme. And often, I have learned about books I have considered reading but haven't tried yet.

      Delete
  11. Interesting book. I've just finished my 1946 read. Late as usual but I should squeeze in a review before the end of the month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was interesting, Sarah. I look forward to your review. I enjoy taking a look at all the books that were published around the same time, and how they compare.

      Delete