Saturday, December 25, 2010

Murder by the Book: Review

The last of the Lockridge books currently sitting in my TBR pile, Murder by the Book, takes Pam and Jerry North out of their usual NYC setting. It is also the final book of this charming husband and wife amateur detective series. The book finds Pam & Jerry on holiday in Key West. While there they befriend a famous doctor, also on holiday from New York, playing tennis and sharing drinks. Pam, in her usual fashion, also befriends the hotel's unofficial mascots, Freddy and Teddy--two pelicans who prefer the guests to do their fishing for them. A pleasant holiday turns fishy when Pam discovers the doctor lying dead on the pier with the pelicans looking on. There are, of course, a variety of suspects who could have had it in for the debonair doctor. Was it the wife of one his former patients--a patient who didn't survive his treatment? And the wife blames the doctor. Or perhaps the daughter of that same patient? There is also the fact that the doctor had served as a court witness in several cases and one of the men put in prison based on his testimony just happens to have headed south upon his release. Or maybe it is the husband of a woman who has just died in the hotel after Dr. Piersal had checked on her? Deputy Sheriff Jefferson finds himself in over his head and after checking up on "these Norths" with Captain Bill Weigand in NYC thinks that maybe Pam's screwy logic will be helpful after all.

Sometimes when authors take their characters out of their natural habitat, so to speak, it doesn't work. The Nero Wolfe stories that remove Wolfe from his brownstone home come to mind. But the Lockridges manage to keep the spirit of the North books true to form even with Pam and Jerry in tennis shorts on the sunny shores of Key West. Another thoroughly enjoyable outing. The North books are light and breezy, but always satisfying. I much prefer them to Nick and Nora Charles. Four stars.

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