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
Series: Mr. & Mrs. North, #10
Setting: New York City
Source: Received as a prize.