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Norths Meet Murder
in Hardcover edition on 1940 and has 339 pages.
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First in the Norths mystery series set in late 1930s New York City and revolving around a curious couple. Jerry North is an editor with Kensington & Brown, and Pam North is a housewife.
I suspect my biggest reason for giving Norths Meet Murder a “4” is for the quaintness of it. I keep reminding myself that this is a period mystery, set in the late 1930s (and written in 1940), and I have to take this into account. It has a number of oddities in it which I attribute to the style of the time, the still newness of the genre, and the stage-direction effect of the text.
After having read so many historical mysteries and, well, so many books with an eye to reviewing, I’ve definitely sharpened my brain and the Lockridges’ story is so very different in terms of show and tell and in styling the dialog. I realize that part of it is the Lockridges’ own style as well. It is a lot of description, but in a laid back kind of way.
Add in the culture of the time with the smoking and drinking — no drugs in this crowd yet — and the very cavalier attitude of the police with their acceptance of beating it out of a suspect along with the casual drinking they do while on the job…well, it’s an eye on the times. The stereotypes, especially the way Weigand “classed” Kumi! Interesting insight on how people viewed other races and cultures back then.
Made me really appreciate computers as I read of their forensics bureau hand comparing fingerprints with their records. Wow, Weigand figures he can probably identify the body by checking through the Clipper Shave Company’s warranty records!
It’s a bit weird with the Norths, especially Mrs. North, involved in finding clues. Everything she finds, she determines it’s true. It’s weird, as my first reaction to these assertions is yeahh, uh-huh. And whaddya know, they do turn out to be true. Pam is a little bit Miss Marple in her not wanting to say anything bad about anyone with a little bit of Blanche DuBois’ flightiness combined with her enjoyment of her drinks as well as her enjoyment of the investigation. They demonstrate what they think is the murder weapon. They have Weigand round for drinks. They even have all the suspects round for a dinner party.
Oh mama, is there ever a heap’a gossip in this! We tend to think of New York City as a big city, but it certainly isn’t in this story! It’s more like the original six degrees of separation!
Yeah, there’s a loose end in that one murder never gets solved, except that the lieutenant does acknowledge it.
It’s a party that opens up that door to murder and for Jerry and Pam North to meet Lt. Weigand. Mrs. North is quite fascinated with the process and has lots of suggestions for whodunnit, but both Norths are very reluctant to gossip.
The Norths have an active social life and live close to everything. Gerald “Jerry” seems more laid back while Pam is bright but with a scattershot approach to talking. Martha is their housekeeper. Pete is their cat.
Detective Lieutenant Weigand is in charge of the investigation and much more easygoing than Detective Mullins who’s very fond of rye and working over a “witness”. Mullins is one of those cops who want to close the case and will work the facts to suit. Detective Stein helps out. Their boss is Deputy Chief Artemus O’Malley. Dr. Sampson is the assistant medical examiner.
Stanley Brent is a lawyer with a nasty, pinching sort of humor. Claire Brent is his wandering wife. Benjamin Fuller runs an import business and is married to Jane. Louis Berex is an inventor and is working on televisions! He typifies the absentmindedness, but does have a certain slyness. Clinton Edwards is a financial manager (my word for him), and he’s a trip to try and talk to. Kumi is his houseboy.
The partygoers include:
Ann Lambert paints sometimes; Miles Sackett works with Jerry; his wife, Florence Sackett, is unattached to him (no, I never did figure out what this means); Ralph Birtman; Clarence Fitch works at a magazine; Harold Klingman builds boats and fantasizes about escaping on his own boat while his wife Loretta is more interested in the high life; Henry Cordon; Isaac Romenman is a tightwad; and, Mary Brown is in advertising.
Mrs. Buano owns the building and is their landlord. Timothy Barnes is the postman. Kensuke Kumiatchi was sent up for manslaughter.
The Cover and Title
The cover of the version I read is a plain linen broken into a one-quarter vertical band of black on the left and the remaining three-quarters a red. The spine is where you’ll find the title.
The title introduces the Norths and their first encounter with murder, it’s The Norths Meet Murder.