Written by Frances and Richard Lockridge |
In March, Mysterious Books (with Open Road) announced they are publishing the Mr. and Mrs. North series written by Frances and Richard Lockridge. The books began as short stories about a young couple, Pam and Jerry North, living in Manhattan in the late 1930’s, and evolved into mystery novels beginning with Mr. and Mrs. North Meet Murder (1941). Jerry North is a publisher. His wife Pam is a housewife. In the first book they are living in Greenwich Village, near Washington Square, when they discover a naked male body in the bathtub of an unoccupied apartment on the top floor of the house. They involve themselves in ‘helping’ the amazingly tolerant New York City police detective Lt. William Weigand solve the murder. And they are off and detecting–for 26 wildly successful novels. The stories are a cultural reflection of their era, and it’s fascinating to read about NYC the way it used to be. (And surprisingly, in a city that has changed so much in the more than fifty years since the final book was written, a few of the restaurants and bars they visit are still in business.)
The mysteries were immensely popular from 1941 until 1963, when Frances Lockridge died and Richard ended the series–though he continued to write. There was a radio show with more than a million listeners that ran in various forms from 1941 until 1954, a TV show for two seasons from 1952 to 1954, at least one Broadway play and a movie. The stories are of their time and place. They hold up remarkably well, but they do reflect the social attitudes of the American mid century. In the front of Death on the Aisle is a “Cast of Characters ” to help the reader keep track of the main characters. Here is a sample:
Pamela North, amateur detective, professional martini-drinker, who almost becomes a victim of her own enthusiasm.
Gerald North, Pam’s husband, publisher, and mixer of martinis.
William Weigand, professional detective, amateur martini drinker.
If you are under thirty you might not realize that in the 1940’s and 1950’s being called a ‘martini drinker’ signaled fun loving, glamorous sophistication, rather than a need for rehab. Light-hearted and likable. If you are in the mood for a nostalgic summer read, there’s plenty here to entertain.
NOTE: A complete list of the mysteries can be found on the Magpie Recommends page.
Mr. and Mrs. North – 26 titles
Frances and Richard Lockridge
Mysterious Press/Open Road
March 8, 2016