Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Green Plaid Pants: Review

The Green Plaid Pants (1951) is the second book by Margaret Scherf to feature the husband and wife decorating team, Emily and Henry Bryce.  In this outing Emily is worried that life is dull and that a marriage without even the excitement of an argument or two is doomed failure.  Never mind that they haven't been married all that long.  But not to worry!  She and Henry soon have more excitement than they can handle when a client calls them in all the way from England just to antique two cabinets for an eccentric English family.  When the job is done, Henry and Emily find themselves coming home with not just their fee, but a silver teapot and a pair of Bonnie Prince Charlie's green plaid trousers.  And...the entire eccentric English family decides to come along for a quick visit to the States.

Emily collects the family and trundles the whole company to a friend's house in the country where one of the British citizens manages to get his throat cut.  He's not much of a loss...the rest of the family didn't like him much and Emily didn't care for the way he bullied his wife.  While the State Troopers are terribly interested in who managed to reduce the party's size by one, what Emily really wants to know is why is somebody so interested in Charlie's pants?  They keep disappearing and having buttons cut off and....could it be possible that something was smuggled across the ocean in them? Emily and Cousin Ada (one of the Brits) are determined to play Sherlock Holmes and get to the bottom of it all.  As a result of Emily's sleuthing (with Henry's help), she winds up knocked on the head and Henry barely escapes death by poisoning.  Was anything really smuggled?  And, if so, where is it now?  And why has the last person you'd suspect just pulled a gun on our detective duo?  You'll just have to track down a copy of this madcap little mystery and find out.

This is a fun little mystery.  Lots of scattered sleuthing by Emily and false solutions galore before the end is in sight.  Emily and Henry spend a lot of time rushing madly hither and yon in the attempt to track down clues and often wind up in the most amusing situations.  They make a welcome addition to the whimsical husband and wife detective teams--taking their place with the likes of Nick & Nora Charles and Pam & Jerry North.  Plenty of red herrings and I definitely didn't expect the ending. 

My favorite supporting character was Cousin Ada Birthwistle.  A forthright Englishwoman, she could definitely give Holmes a run for his money.  She spends her time watching everyone, checking out the stock market, reading American crime magazines, and carrying her knitting bag wherever she goes.  A force to be reckoned with, she nearly steals the scene every time she makes an appearance.  Three and 3/4 stars.

The look Emily gave him should have left nothing of Roy but a little dust to put in an urn. (p. 23)

To Emily an uninterviewed  passenger was like melting ice cream--something had to be done immediately to save it. (p. 35)

I've never known a reasonable human being in  my live. Except myself, of course. ~Miss Birtwistle (p. 41)

Miss Birtwistle...throwing what charm she could over that gaunt frame, and resembling a suit of armor with lace pantaloons. (p. 42)

They said that everything in the universe, even the fly, had a purpose. But of course Roy was born after these statements were made. (p. 51)

If people get involved in a murder once in their lives, anybody would excuse it. But when they get mixed up in another one, with foreigners, too, it almost seems too much to be a coincidence, doesn't it? I mean, these things happen more to shady characters, and if you go around minding your own business you don't seem to know murderers and things. ~Hilda (p. 89)

Your wonderful English friends have been planting poison around the studio. I wonder what else they've left? You might go back to the washroom and set off a bomb. Or there might be a gun with a trigger all wired up in one of these chairs. Anything could be hidden in here and you wouldn't find it for months, and then all of a sudden, bang! ~Hilda (p. 142)

It just goes to show you might get rid of a husband once in a while, but you can't get rid of the government. ~Emily (p. 155)

Challenges: 150 Plus Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Mount TBR Challenge, Vintage Mystery Challenge, Color Coded Challenge, Monthly Key Word, Book Bingo, Off the Shelf, A-Z Reading Challenge, Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge, Embarrassment of Riches


Anonymous said...

I'm just reading this one now Bev so haven't looked at your review too closely yet - in fact, I am reading the copy you so kindly gifted me! My review will go up in a couple of weeks, but thanks again - am really enjoying the screwball antics of the Bryces.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this one, Bev - the Bryces are delightful (if somewhat dangerous) to know. Married 28 months, and all that has happened is that she broke his collarbone and the studio caught fire - but those were accidents. Margaret Scherf's books are funny, and some of the dialogue certainly reminds me of Dashiell Hammett's Nick and Nora Charles.

Ryan said...

Sounds like a lot of fun to read, but I can't help wondering why the skeleton's pants are pulled up to his ribs.

TracyK said...

Just what I need, another vintage mystery author I did not know about. I love that cover. Your review makes this sound very attractive.

Anonymous said...

Just finished it today Bev - couldn't agree with you more with your review (so my post will be quite brief since you've said it all so well).