Thursday, June 1, 2023

Murder Is Suggested

 Murder Is Suggested (1959) by Frances & Richard Lockridge

When Captain Bill Weigand is faced with the murder of Jameson Elwell, a well-known psychologist, he must decide if it is a murder of revenge, murder to cover other murder, murder for money, or murder by suggestion. Because the big question is--can a subject be instructed by a good hypnotist to kill? Experts in the field say no--but there are those who think otherwise. Sergeant Mullins isn't too crazy about the hypnotism connection, but he is relieved to find that the Norths don't seem to be in it. Not that he doesn't like the Norths--he does. But he doesn't like them mixed with murder, because once you bring the Norths in things get screwy. And we certainly don't need screwy on top of hypnotism.

So, everything's fine, even with young men who break clocks and young women who appear out of apparently empty closets...until he finds out about the cats. It seems that Elwell and his protege, Carl Hunter, have been doing experiments with cats. And where there's cats, at least in Mullins' mind, the Norths are soon to follow. 

"Cats," Mullins repeated. He spoke as a man whose worst fears have been confirmed. Men broke clocks, young women came out of closets and now--cats. Omens.

Of course, he's right, though not because of the cats, but because North books had published Professor Elwell's most recent book. Things do get a bit screwy but if Mullins is fair things aren't as screwy as they usually are. There are several suspects available--and none are screwy: Rosco Finch, who was engaged to the Professor's daughter until a recent auto accident ended her life (an accident that Elwell was sure was Finch's fault); Faith Oldham, a suggestible psychology student who stands to inherit under Elwell's will; Faith's domineering mother who was definitely interested in any money that might be coming Faith's way; and Hunter--who has fallen for Faith and just might be interested in the money as well. Soon we're following Weigand and the Norths through a maze of hypnotic suggestion to a late-night session in the professor's laboratory to bring an end to the mystery.

This is a fun mystery with more focus on Weigand than some of the earlier novels. We get to see the Captain at work and we also get to see Pam North make her usual leaps of detective thought--but all wrong this time. It's good to see Weigand ahead of her quick mind. I also had a lot of fun watching Mullins say that hypnotism was a bunch of hooey and yet he was the most susceptible of all our main characters. I don't think it difficult to figure out whodunnit (and I'm surprised that Pam was fooled on this one), but the fun is in the storyline and our regular characters. ★★

First line: Standing at the third-floor window, William Weigand could look north and west and see the Hudson River.

Last line: "Did the Loot-I-men-captain tell you that the [redacted] admits cooling the professor?" Sergeant Mullins asked.


Deaths = 4 (one shot; three auto accident)

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