Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Death of a Tall Man

Today found me reading another madcap mystery. Death of a Tall Man starts out with a typical day at the office of respected eye doctor, Andrew Gordon. He sees a group of patients in the morning, goes to the hospital for surgery, and returns for more patients before leaving for lunch. But the afternoon office hours are not destined to be typical. His nurse discovers him dead in his office--dead from the proverbial blunt instrument to the head. Lieutenant Bill Weigand faces the questions of who would want to kill the doctor and how did the murderer manage to do it under the watchful eye of the staff?

Pam North just happens to be in the neighborhood when she sees Bill Weigand's car go by--and, of course, she can't resist going along to see what's up. As she tells her husband, Jerry, on the phone:

"Well, actually, it's a murder. I just sort of--well, I was just walking past and--" She stopped and she had the expression of somebody who has been interrupted. Bill listened, amused, to the sound of Jerry's voice coming from the telephone. The words were not distinguishable; the tone was unmistakable.

"I didn't," Pam said. It isn't fair to say I look for them."

As it happens, it's a good thing for Weigand that she happens along. Once again, her far-leaping mind picks up on subtle clues that eventually lead to the murderer. Weigand's problem is proof and the little matter of an alibi. But it all comes clear after the death of the tall man.

This was another fun read by Frances and Richard Lockridge, the husband and wife team who made New York City of the 30s and 40s their own. They people their stories with likable characters who are fun, funny, and believable. They also "people" their stories with likable animals, generally cats. Animals who have their own personalities and place in the story without being too cutesy. In this case, it's a tiny Siamese named Martini (or "Teeney" for short) who belongs to the Norths. There's just enough of Martini to add to the fun--which, I suppose, is just the right amount of martini for anyone. Four stars out of five.

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