The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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June 7, 2016

The Norths Meet Murder

      Weigand got back to his desk just as the telephone started ringing. He said 'Hello,' and the telephone assured him, with uncharacteristic clarity, that this was Pam North.
      'I'm into something,' Mrs. North said.
      'Huh?' said Weigand. 'I mean -- what?'
      'On to,' Mrs. North corrected herself. 'Can you come up?'
      'Well --' Weigand said. 'Is it important?'
      'Well,' said Mrs. North, 'sort of. I think. And bacardis, anyway. Jerry and I think maybe it's important.'
      Weigand said he would try to make it.
      'Or martinis if you'd rather,' Mrs. North said.
      Weigand said he was pretty sure he could make it.    
... and, very happily, I meet the Norths. :)  As you probably know, I always enjoy discovering a new mystery series, or an old one that's new to me.  Having never heard of the sleuths, or the authors, it was fascinating to read a little about them, too. Richard Lockridge introduced the characters, in the early 1930s. in newspaper sketches and then in stories published in The New Yorker; he then went on to collaborate with his wife, Frances, on this first mystery {originally published in 1940} and 25 more. The books were also adapted for the radio, a Broadway show and an early television series.

I also love the Thin Man movies (with Nick and Nora Charles), and this book has a little of the same flavor. But Pam and Jerry North are a more domesticated couple (he works as a publisher), living on a quiet street in Greenwich Village. {There are literally pages that describe the North's neighborhood near Washington Square, and lots of strolls through the city later.} When their landlady agrees that they can use the empty fourth-floor apartment for a party {they'll bring their radio upstairs, so people can dance}, and Mrs. North pulls Mr North upstairs to look the place over, you can probably guess what they find in the bathtub.  The murder investigation is turned over to sensible, martini-loving Lieutenant Weigand and his luggish sidekick, Detective Mullins, who longs to round up the suspects and work them over. But even though they're sure they must be suspects themselves, Mrs. North has hunches, and Mr. North sighs, agrees, and mixes the cocktails; and, when Weigand gets stuck, she comes up with the perfect way to suss out the murderer, because it's the way she's read about in books.

I wasn't entirely sure at first, but in the end I loved the unusualness of a cozy mystery set in 1930s New York, the gentle humor, and the echoes of Nick and Nora, and it would be fun to see what happens to the Norths in later books. {The library has a lot of them, and even relatively recent DVDs of the 1950s TV series. Watching that would be fun, too.}

Mysterious Press has just re-published The Norths Meet Murder as a Kindle book, with the paperback coming out in July. Thanks to them and to NetGalley for letting me have an early look.


JoAnn said...

I spent a lot of time in the Washington Square neighborhood when my oldest daughter was in college. She did two summer internships in NYC and had housing in the area. I'd love the book for that reason alone, but it appeals on other levels, too. What fun to discover a new, old series!

Audrey said...

I was thinking that you would! :)

Cosy Books said...

This is so helpful, Audrey...I have a Visiting Library Services customer that really enjoys mysteries. So many of the ones published today contain - oh, shall we say 'brutal' levels of violence, sex, and language. I can only send along so many Miss Marple titles before boring the heck out of my dear customer at the nursing home! Must have a word with the person who orders for our collections. Thanks again!

Audrey said...

Oh, I'm so glad!

Thank you for visiting!

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