Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Old Die Young: Review

The Old Die Young (1980) is the last book published by Richard Lockridge. It features Lieutenant (recommended to be Acting Captain) Nathan Shapiro and his right-hand man Detective Tony Cook. And Nate Shapiro is once again out of his depth and convinced that someone, somewhere made a mistake when they made him a Lieutenant in the Detective Branch and "they" are certainly out of their minds to think he should make Captain in the wake of Bill Weigand's promotion to Inspector. This time he and Cook are investigating the possible murder of Broadway actor Clive Branson, the star of the current play "Summer Solstice." Branson has given his age as forty-something, but the truth is that he is more like sixty-something. A fact that even carefully applied makeup cannot hide once he is discovered dead in his bed.

Branson has apparently succumbed to a reaction to a sleeping pill. His friends, dresser, fellow actors, agent, and ex-wives all knew that he was susceptible to severe reactions to small doses. And most of these people were at the surprise birthday party held the night before Branson's death--giving them ample opportunity to slip a little something into the birthday boy's drink. But what about motive? Branson had been miscast as the forty-year-old husband of a twenty-year-old in the play and the critics were decidedly not in favor of the elderly playing the middle-aged. Was someone associated with the play determined to remove the dead-weight keeping the play from soaring reviews? Or maybe Ken Price (an up-and-coming actor better suited to the role) hoped that with Branson out of the way he might step in and give his own career a boost? Branson's will also reveals motives (to the tune of $50,000 apiece) for each of his ex-wives--one of whom is also in the play--and his dresser-come-butler who inherits the rest. Shapiro and Cook will have to become familiar with the ins and outs of the theatre world as well as the properties of certain poisons before they can bring the crime home to the villain.

This one is more fairly clued than the last Shapiro novel I read by the Lockridges (Murder & Blueberry Pie). Richard also manages to spread the suspicion around quite nicely. I was all set to believe that X was the culprit until {spoiler} happens which makes that idea pretty much impossible. I always enjoy my visits to the Lockridge world. This is a pleasant detective novel with a few of the standard players (Weigand and his wife Dorian and Bernard Simmons) making a final appearance along with Shapiro and Cook. The Lockridge books are generally light fare, but no less appealing for that. Sometimes a light read is all you need. ★★

With the detective duo of Lt. Nathan Shapiro & Detective Tony Cook, this counts for the "Detective Team" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card. This also counts as my first entry for Rich's Crimes of the Century feature for August. This month is focused on crime fiction from 1980.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Might be a little too light for me. Great review!