Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fourth Candle: A Risky Way to Kill

Racked up another book from 1969 this evening by reading Richard Lockridge's A Risky Way to Kill. Richard and Frances Lockridge started several series together (Mr. & Mrs. North, Inspector Heimrich, Bernie Simmons, and others). When his wife died, Richard Lockridge went on with the writing. The stories are crisp, yet homey. Sometimes madcap, but never over-the-top. The Pam & Jerry North books beat Nick & Nora Charles hands down as best mystery series couple. And Inspector Heimrich is a delight as a New York State Trooper...a State Trooper who sees himself as an ungainly hippopotamus.

In this one, two advertisements placed in the local newspaper stir up questions about a young girl's death. The ads are for: Wedding dress, size 10, never used and Bay stallion, trained hunter, reasonable; also .25 caliber Winchester rifle, telescopic sight. A year ago from the date the ads are placed a 20 year old, soon-to-be married, seasoned rider was killed when her horse refused a jump and she hit the wall the horse would not take. But is that what really happened? Heimreich initially tells the editor of the newspaper (who feels his paper has been used for a cruel joke--raking up painful memories for the girl's mother) that there's nothing in it for the police. But the longer he thinks about it the more he digs....and as he digs someone gets mighty uncomfortable.

I love these breezy mysteries. They are fun and quick to read. But I also like them for the interactions between the characters: between Heimrich and his wife, Susan; between Heimrich and Lt. Forniss (his right-hand man); and between the Heimrichs and their animals. Yes, Mite (a black cat) and Colonel (a huge, Eeyore-like, Great Dane) are just as much real characters as the humans. The Lockridges had a special gift for writing about animals in an endearing way without being overly cute or giving the cats and dogs in their stories too much in the way of human characteristics.

A nice addition to my 1969 journey. Four stars out of five.

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