Richard & Frances Lockridge

Richard & Frances Lockridge
Murder by the Book 

Jerry North wakes telling himself firmly, “But pelicans are birds.” His subconscious is arguing with his wife, Pam, who has left their Florida hotel room in the early morning “to fish for pelicans,” in her words. He trails her to a dock, where Pam, fishing line in hand, is seated with a pelican on either side of her. “If she’s caught another,” thinks Jerry, “I’ll—I’ll—”

So begins Murder by the Book, the final installment in the Mr. and Mrs. North mystery series. Jerry’s distress is understandable; Pam North, with her elliptical logic, is just the sort of person who might go fishing for pelicans and actually catch one. Improbable events seem to follow her around like eager puppies.

Both Pam and Jerry have an absolute knack for finding murder victims—in bathtubs, on shipboard, and recently removed from deep freezes. Their presence at a crime scene is enough to make Inspector O’Malley clutch his head and groan. When the Norths are involved in a case, it’s guaranteed to be screwy.

O’Malley’s headache is our delight, as the Norths—joined by Siamese cats and fortified with dry martinis—romp their way through 26 novels. In the crowded mystery field, these books by the prolific husband-and-wife team of Richard and Frances Lockridge are standouts for their humor, pace, and plotting.

Pam wasn’t really catching pelicans, by the way. “For” in this case meant “on behalf of”: She was catching fish to feed the pelicans.

That’s one mystery solved, and 25 to go.

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