Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Foggy, Foggy Death: Review

Foggy, Foggy Death (1950) by Frances & Richard Lockridge is the third in the Captain Heimrich series of mysteries. As the title implies, a thick New England fog envelops the Bromwell's country estate and much mayhem ensues...including a murder. Heimrich has to get to the bottom of a stolen Cadillac with a glove compartment full of jewels, the disappearance of a small son, the appearance of a motorist with a convenient flat tire, a troubled marriage, and who's really in love with whom before he can sort out who might have wanted Marta Bromwell out of the way badly enough to drown her in the stream on the estate.

Tensions are thick at High Ridge--thick like the dense January fog that encircles the house and which hides danger. There are several people who had reason to dislike Marta Bromwell. Marta has grown tired of her husband and doesn't mind showing it. She lets other men escort her around the town...just staying within the bounds of decency. After all, she doesn't want to have to give up the shiny jewels that come with her position as Bromwell's wife. Scott Bromwell would love to be rid of her if he can find a way that will allow him to keep the children. And Bromwell's high-society mother would love to see the back of her daughter-in-law as well. Then there's Karen, the elder Mrs. Bromwell's secretary and friend of the family. She has recently realized that she cares for Scott...if only Marta would disappear....

Of course, it's not as easy as keeping it in the family. Heimrich learns that Marta has been playing her current escort against the mysterious "stranger" with the flat tire--and both men thought she was going to leave Bromwell for them. What if one of them discovered her tricks and, enraged, decided that if he couldn't have her then no one would? And then the killer gets worried that a certain car thief has seen or heard more than was good for him and kills again. It's quite a puzzle for Heimrich to untangle--even if the circumstantial evidence points towards the most obvious suspect..Scott Bromwell.

The Lockridge books are some of my favorite "light" mysteries from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. I enjoy their recurring characters from Pam & Jerry North to Bill Weigand & Sergeant Mullins to Captain M. L. Heimich and Sergeant Forniss. This one is a good solid mystery--and enjoyable--but I did miss the usual Lockridge humor and the way they work animals into their stories (without making it cutesy or the-cat-solves-the crime). Here the humor is mainly felt with the car thief, Higgins, is on the scene--following him as he sneaks from room to room and holds and on-going conversation with himself is quite amusing. It would have been better if the humor had been a thread throughout. Its absence was a bit oppressive--like the fog. Perhaps that was the Lockridges' objective, to make the atmosphere of the book match the countryside around the house. The animals were also absent. Dog kennels are mentioned and a supposed visit to the kennels by the victim would seem to be vital to the plot, but we don't actually visit the kennels at all. ★★ and 1/2.

[Finished 9/22/18]


1 comment:

Lisbeth said...

Very well done! It is not always easy to find books from the right year.