"Weigand!" Deputy Chief Artemus O'Maley said, in a great voice. "Sir?" Lieutenant William Weigand, Acting Captain Homicide West, said in a much smaller"Weigand!" Deputy Chief Artemus O'Maley said, in a great voice. "Sir?" Lieutenant William Weigand, Acting Captain Homicide West, said in a much smaller one. "The Norths!" O'Malley told him. "Don't you see them?" *** "I won't have it," O'Malley said. "I've told you a hundred times. You know what happens when you let them in, don't you" Bill Weigand nodded and looked attentive. "Gets all screwy," O'Malley said. "Doesn't make any sense. Gets so you don't understand a damn thing."
In Murder Comes First (1951) by Frances & Richard Lockridge, Pamela North's three aunts, the Misses Thelma, Pennina, and Lucinda Whitsett, come to New York City for their annual fall visit on their way south for the winter. In addition to spending time with their favorite niece and her husband Jerry, the aunts always drop in to see Grace Logan, their friend since childhood. They are gathered for tea and reminiscing when Grace takes a vitamin capsule and collapses--apparently from cyanide poisoning. Lt. Bill Weigand and his Chief O'Malley arrive on the scene and it seems that "Arty" has determined that it's an easy one. All sewn up. Because it has been revealed during questioning that Grace Logan stole Thelma Whitsett's beau...25 years ago. But, hey, these dames can get bitter, you know.
Aunt Lucy sneaks a call to her niece and naturally Pam and Jerry come to rescue the aunts. And Pam decides to investigate because somebody has to do something to find the real killer. It's not like there aren't more likely suspects. Grace's son wants to marry the daughter of her [Grace's] companion. But his mother didn't like that idea a bit. She thought Lynn Hickey was a hard, calculating woman--out to change her son and possibly out to marry him for the money he'd one day inherit. Lynn's mother took exception to the disparaging comments about her daughter and quarreled with Grace. But was that enough to inspire murder? Then there's her niece, Sally, and husband who might also have had a mercenary interest in the $50,000 Sally would inherit from Grace...if she died. But Sally disappeared well before Grace was murdered--could she have doctored the vitamins before she left? None of these people liked the way Grace would exert her will and her wishes in their lives, but who resented it enough to substitute a cyanide capsule for a harmless vitamin?
And, of course, it does get screwy. Pam chats up suspects, gets taken out to dinner by a few of them, and finds herself followed by a mysterious "medium" man. She is forced to take refuge in the dressing room of a Fifth Avenue department store and walks out in a new rust-colored dress which allows her to lose her tail. Meanwhile, Aunt Lucy who never forgets a thing she reads [and she read a lot--a woman after my own hear] and gets a sudden inspiration about who and how and why and makes a frantic trip out of the city to prove her theory. Pam & Dorian Weigand (Bill's wife) follow in hot pursuit with Bill and Jerry on their trail and a few FBI men following all of them. They all converge on an isolated cabin for an exciting finish.
This is, perhaps, one of the more outlandish plots in the Lockridge line-up--after all FBI men chasing spies and maiden aunts in pink hats running about the countryside are a bit much. But it's all good fun and I can forgive a lot just for the inclusion of Aunt Lucy who reads as much as I do and loves books and places with books as much as I do too.
...at the very thought of a library she brightened. It had been months, it had been last spring, that she had last been in the New York Public Library, where merely being surrounded by so many books made one tingle exquisitely.
It is entirely appropriate that Aunt Lucy seeks out answers to help her theory in the library. The mystery itself isn't terribly intricate, but I don't really expect that from the Lockridges. I do expect Pam to get into trouble--and she does, taking Dorian along with her. It's easy to see where Pam gets her impulsive nature from--Aunt Lucy is just as bad. I also expect a good peek at vintage New York as well as an exciting finish. The Lockridges deliver on all counts. ★★★ and a half--deducting just a bit for the outlandish plot.
Things are heating up in Joan Spencer's life. The amateur viola player and oftentimes amateur detective's third outing in The Vanishing Violinist (199Things are heating up in Joan Spencer's life. The amateur viola player and oftentimes amateur detective's third outing in The Vanishing Violinist (1999) by Sara Hoskinson Frommer finds her finally planning a wedding to Lieutenant Fred Lindquist, being told that she's soon to be a mother-in-law, and landing in the middle of a mystery at the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. Joan lives in the small college town of Oliver but when she calls her daughter to tell Rebecca that she's planning a wedding, Rebecca has news of her own. She is engaged to a violin virtuoso who will be performing at the International Violin Competition. Rebecca wants her mom to meet up with Bruce in Indianapolis and give him some moral support during the competition. Joan winds up providing support for much more than just that....
When the Stradivarius violin belonging to one of Bruce's rivals disappears, he becomes a prime suspect. He had gone to Camila Pereira's host family's house to wish her luck before her first performance. As chance would have it, he was left alone (while she dressed for the competition) for a time period long enough to have snatched the violin from its case and stashed it somewhere. Then when the Brazilian beauty herself disappears the Indianapolis police are once again sizing him as a kidnapper. After an Oliver police officer is killed in a fatal hit-and-run accident, clues provided by local schoolchildren surface that make Joan believe answers may lie closer to her home than she'd like. She and Fred untangle the remaining threads that allow the Indy police to make a dramatic arrest on the night of the Competition's awards.
This is the first of the Joan Spencer series that I've read. I'm sure reading the first two would provide some backstory, but I didn't really feel like I had missed anything vital to the plot of novel number three. Frommer introduces the characters in such a way that readers can settle right in and feel like they already know these people. Joan is an engaging protagonist and her family and friends round out the recurring characters nicely. If the rest of the books are as interesting, then this definitely seems like a cozy series worth reading in its entirety. Not quite fair play in its cluing, but modern mysteries don't always follow such niceties. However, there are strong indications which the clever reader may pick up on. Good solid cozy mystery fare.
I wound up skimming a great deal of this--just so I could have a good idea of the plot. Each time I "came in for a landing" (so to speak) I found thatI wound up skimming a great deal of this--just so I could have a good idea of the plot. Each time I "came in for a landing" (so to speak) I found that not much had changed. I could not give this one a rating--since I did not read the entire book.
Chili Con Corpses is the third installment in J. B. Stanley's cozy mystery series which features the "Flab Five"--a group of friends who create a suppChili Con Corpses is the third installment in J. B. Stanley's cozy mystery series which features the "Flab Five"--a group of friends who create a supper club and support group, particularly when most of the members decide they need to find a way to balance their interest in food with a need to eat wisely and get fit. Her characters include James , a librarian knows as "The Professor;" the now newly svelte deputy-in-training Lucy; Bennett, a trivia buff who hopes some day to appear on Jeopardy!; Gillian, a herbalist with a New Age aura; and local high school teacher Lindy.
The group is getting pretty tired of low-carb fare and sign up for a Mexican-themed Fix 'n' Freeze cooking class taught by the charismatic Milla. Murphy Alistair, editor/reporter for the Shenandoah Star-Ledger, also joins along with two of her college friends Parker and Kinsley willis--a pair of twins who look like supermodels. Lindy is sure that Kinsley is out to snag the man she's had her eye on for some time and threatens mayhem if she does. When Parker (who everyone has mistaken for her twin) is found murdered while helping to chaperone a school field trip for Lindy's students to Luray Caverns, the police are naturally interested in the rivalry between Lindy and Kinsley. But then they realize that one of the other chaperones wasn't who he was thought to be either and more motives start popping up. James and the Flab Five decide to take matters into their own hands and flush out the killer, but will they do so without losing one of their own?
This is a fun, light-hearted cozy mystery. The plot is solid and the characters are interesting and very real. I especially like the side-story with James's father, a widower, who has lost interest in most everything until he meets Milla. It was very nice to see how he blossomed as he got to know her. And the side-stories do not detract or distract from the main mystery plot as can sometimes happen. Stanley weaves them in nicely. If you have a taste for cozy mysteries...particularly those which involve food...then this is a solid entree for your mystery menu.
Spice Island Mystery (1969) by Betty Cavanna takes place on the island of Grenada, known as "Spice Island" because of the numerous nutmeg plantationsSpice Island Mystery (1969) by Betty Cavanna takes place on the island of Grenada, known as "Spice Island" because of the numerous nutmeg plantations and scent of nutmeg which permeates the air. Marcy Baptiste, seventeen and a native of Grenada, has just returned home after living in the United States and attending high school there while serving as a companion for the daughter of one of the plantation families and caretaker for Claire's younger brothers.
Marcy, who has a longing to attend college as her friend Claire will be doing in the fall, sets about finding herself a job while she figures out her future. She is hired by Harlan W. Fletcher of the Fletcher Development Corporation to be secretary, payroll clerk, and general gofer. On her first day at work, she meets Richard Strang, a handsome young architect who also works for the the Corporation. While Marcy tries to navigate her new feelings for Richard, she also is working through old relationships. Some of her former friends wonder if she's become too Americanized, but Coffee Parkinson, a young man she knew well before leaving for the States, seems determined to renew their friendship and possibly make it a little more.
But as Marcy settles in to work and her new lodgings, she notices some things that don't quite add up. Coffee seems to have more money to spend than he could possibly make as a construction worker. The same holds true for several young men she knows. Coffee presents her with an expensive bottle of perfume as a welcome home gift. Another young man buys his father a new motorcycle. There are gold watches and motorbikes among the others. Marcy sees Coffee set out at odd hours to visit a luxury boat in the harbor and later he calls in sick to work only to be spotted with a wealthy tourist by Marcy while she's at lunch. Marcy and Richard, who have begun to see one another away from the job, have several encounters with ruffians and bundles of dried plants...is someone smuggling nutmeg for a higher profit? Or are the stakes higher than that? Marcy's mother always told her that her curiosity would get her in trouble one day. She will have to be very careful in her amateur investigations not to make her mother's prophecy come true.
Betty Cavanna provides an interesting teenage mystery with just enough romance to add a bit of spice, but not to overwhelm the amateur sleuthing. Marcy is a well-drawn, strong young character and the supporting cast are quite interesting as well. The main mystery (what kind of smuggling is going on) isn't to hard to figure out, but Cavanna does manage to keep the reader guessing on who is really involved and who isn't. A good solid read for young people (and us older folks as well).
I read this long before I started blogging and writing detailed reviews--so I don't have much in the way of review. But I've enjoyed every Brean novelI read this long before I started blogging and writing detailed reviews--so I don't have much in the way of review. But I've enjoyed every Brean novel I've read so far and I'm quite sure this one earned at least three stars....more
CM: Snatched from below our noses! AW-S: It was three days ago, Maurice. Our noses weren't even out of bed. ~Chef Maurice; Arthur Wordington-Smythe
WhenCM: Snatched from below our noses! AW-S: It was three days ago, Maurice. Our noses weren't even out of bed. ~Chef Maurice; Arthur Wordington-Smythe
When Chef Maurice plunges into the realm of investigation, all he thinks he's going to find is a new source of a very expensive truffle. What a coup for Le Couchan Rouge, his little restaurant in the south of England! But before he knew where he was, he had landed smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation and had acquired a mini-pig in the bargain. Hamilton, the mini-pig, was, of course, necessary--since Chef Maurice needed a champion truffle finder to help him track down the source of the mysterious truffles. But the murder he could certainly do without. After all, the victim was Ollie Meadows his wild herb and mushroom supplier and how was Chef Maurice supposed to make all those delectable mushroom dishes if Ollie was no longer delivering various forms of fungi? Things get serious when Hamilton is pignapped and the inquisitive chef receives a threatening note. He convinces his friend Arthur Wordington-Smythe to play Hastings to his Poirot (no, really--this book is an obvious hat-tip to Christie's creation) and the two are off, Camembert and crackers in hand, to track down the miscreant. The two amateur detectives will encounter a missing dog, a stolen map, an angry gun-totin' uncle, and magic mushrooms before they get to the bottom of the mystery.
I have the Puzzle Doctor at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel to thank for bringing J. A. Lang's delightful cozy mystery series to my attention (click link for his review of Truffle). And he didn't steer me wrong. This book which offers a tribute to Agatha Christie has a plot that definitely follows in her footsteps while injecting a good deal of humor. I laughed out loud several times throughout the story just picturing our heroes in their detective efforts. And this is one of the few times when an author writes from animal points of view and it actually works. Hamilton's take on the world and brief snippets from Wordington-Smythe's dog and a few cows are great fun. Chef Maurice is over the top, but in a good way--he doesn't distract from the plot and, at bottom, he seems like a very nice guy. The supporting case--from his Hastings-like side-kick to his assistant chefs to the local PC--are great fun and the book serves as a very good introduction to Lang's cast of characters. ★★★★ for a fun, cozy series debut.
Death Takes a Bow (1943) by Frances & Richard Lockridge is the sixth book in their Mr. & Mrs. North series. This one opens with Jerry in a panDeath Takes a Bow (1943) by Frances & Richard Lockridge is the sixth book in their Mr. & Mrs. North series. This one opens with Jerry in a panic because he has to give a short speech introducing one his publishing company's latest stars, Victor Leeds Sproul. He's quite sure he's going to mess it up...even though, as Pam points out, he's quite a good speaker and he always does fine. Little does he know that his audience isn't going to care one way or the other. Not after Sproul declines to come to the lectern when introduced...or rather is incapable of coming to the lectern because he's dead.
Of course, since the man died while Jerry was introducing him, Pam naturally thinks that this murder is one of theirs. Oh sure, Lieutenant Weigand and Sergeant Mullins will come along and take charge officially, but they won't really get anywhere if she and Jerry don't give them a little help...and a few martinis here and there. And it soon becomes apparent that help might be appreciated because Sproul wasn't exactly a popular fellow--no matter what his book sales might indicate. He was good at stealing other fellows' wives, holding secrets over his "friends'" heads, gloating about his success to those less fortunate, and generally making himself unloved. But who hated him enough to slip him a deadly dose of morphine before his speech? That's what Weigand, Mullins, and the Norths will have to find out. Muddying the waters even more is the presence of a "little dark man" who Jerry sees slipping away from the stage and who may have taken a few vital clues with him.
Pam has her style cramped a bit by the arrival of her nieces. She thinks she's going to be meeting two little girls at the train, but instead she is saddled with two pre-teen/young teenagers (who look and act a bit older than their years) who seem to be magnets for eligible young servicemen. Keeping the girls occupied and away from the sailors and the marines prevents Pam from getting into as much trouble as usual (no tense moments with the killer holding her hostage this time around), but she does manage to spot the murderer based on one key phrase--just before Bill Weigand does.
This is another fun and light adventure with the Norths. The Lockridges are really very good with dialogue and it's very entertaining to "listen" to the interactions of Jerry and Pam (and her nieces...Pam's way of thinking/talking seems to run in the family ) as well as Weigand and Mullins. I can't say that the mysteries are ever very taxing to the seasoned crime fiction reader, but they are always interesting and entertaining snapshots of New York during the time period. A great escape read.