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Murder Out of Turn
in Hardcover edition on 1941 and has 153 pages.
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Second in the Mr. and Mrs. North mystery series set in late 1930s New York City — although it’s primarily based at Lone Lake — and revolving around a curious couple: Jerry North, an editor with Kensington & Brown, and Pam North, a housewife.
You could consider this a step back in time for more than just the setting, as it is also a step back in writing style with its very stagey manner as the Lockridges tell us where everyone is going, doing…or dying. It’s also different from other 1930s-era stories I’ve read in its character interaction with an almost suburban group of people who enjoy partying. And it’s so true to its era. Well, obviously, since the Lockridges are writing contemporary stories!
It’s a group of friends who meet on weekends over the summer in this primitive collection of cabins with showers that are fed from the lake…yup, cold water, brrrrr. Too bad the cold showers don’t cool down those passions.
It would be interesting to learn just why Dorian is so passionately anti-hunting. Something has to have happened when her father was arrested and tried. I’m also curious, in this time period, if the police truly would have discussed a case and taken suggestions from a civilian couple.
Considering the number of times Weigand and Heimrich are surprised by someone listening outside the window, you’d’a thunk they’d’a checked around the outside of the cabin or set a guard.
It’s a lot of wild goose chases and imminent murder. Worse, the Lockridges provided all the clues — they even send you back to look over the critical slip — and I still didn’t pick up on it.
It’s also a possible romance for Weigand.
Weigand’s first introduction to his fellow campers is a vicious tennis match followed by a party with drinking and dancing. On the surface, everyone seems quite happy and laidback. It’s as the interviews continue that all the dirt, expectations, and hopes emerge.
The Norths have an active social life and are enjoying summer weekends up at the lake. Gerald “Jerry” seems more laid back while Pam is bright but with a tendency to leap in nonstraight lines. Pete, their cat, has come on vacation with them.
Detective Lieutenant William Weigand is an acting captain now, and he’s heading off on vacation to “Ireland”! Detective Mullins who’s very fond of rye and leaping to conclusions, gets commandeered. Their boss is Deputy Chief Artemus O’Malley.
Frank Ireland runs a gas station near the cabins where the Norths are staying at Lone Lake. Bram Van Horst owns the land and the cabins. Marvin is a farmer who does odd jobs for Van Horst.
Fellow campers include:
Jean Corbin is a hard-hitting account executive in advertising; Thelma Smith is not Jean’s friend and do we ever get a mouthful about that; Hardie Saunders broke off from Bell, Halpern, & Bell with a major account; John Blair is Corbin’s current boyfriend; Dr. James Harlan Abel was a potential boyfriend which his wife, Evelyn, wasn’t keen on; Helen Wilson was Clayton Hunt‘s confidential secretary forced to testify against him (she dies first when Hardie kills her for finding him in Jean’s cabin) and stood to inherit a chunk of money; her mother, Mrs. Wilson, stays at the lake all summer-long and takes care of her daughter’s guests; Arthur Kennedy; Dorian Hunt, a fashion illustrator, is Hunt’s angry daughter who hates policemen — and Weigand thinks she moves with an “odd and challenging perfection of balance”; Jane and Ben Fuller (we met them in The Norths Meet Murder, 1); the Askews; and, Hanscomb.
Lieutenant Heimrich is with the State Police and is in charge of the investigation. Sergeant Kelty is his second-in-command. Nurses Frazier and Carlin work at the hospital.
J.K. Bell is the second Bell and dances around the issues. You’d think he was alive today with all the concern he shows over not blacking someone’s character.
The Cover and Title
The cover 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 is too accurate, for she is a Murder Out of Turn.