Monday, November 26, 2012

Catch as Catch Can: Review

It started with little things, with things of no real significance.  

And so opens Catch as Catch Can by Frances & Richard Lockridge.  The whole mystery starts with the little things....Linda Parks comes home to the apartment she shares with Joyce Holbrook expecting to share a dinner of pork chops and salad with her roommate.  She finds the door unlocked (expected) and the apartment empty (not).  She's not too concerned at first--after all the women have a rule that if something else comes up (like a casting call or a man), then "something else" comes first, and so she believes that something else must have come along.  But then she finds the note.  A note addressed to "Lindy," a name that no one has ever used for her--ever.  A note which makes a big deal about Joyce going away for the weekend with Nicholses, a couple that Joyce emphatically believes Linda remembers.  Only she doesn't--she doesn't believe she's ever met anybody by the name of Nichols.  And it seems that Joyce has packed her autumn suit for a weekend away during a summer heat wave.  And Joyce has grabbed Linda's robe by mistake, a robe that couldn't possibly fit the taller, bigger boned woman.  As more and more little things add up, Linda becomes very uneasy about her missing roommate and decides to consult someone unofficially.  

She decides to lay all her little things before Geoffrey Bowen, a young man who works in the District Attorney's Office and whom Linda definitely does remember meeting at a party.  She contacts Bowen and, after overcoming his reluctance to get involved (he's afraid that this will be one of "those" situations), they arrange to meet at the train station so she can ride out to the country with him and tell the story on the way.  That's when the real fun begins--because somebody does not want Linda to talk to Bowen and that somebody will go to a great deal of trouble to make sure she doesn't.  What happened to Joyce?  Why did a Fuller Brush man stop by their apartment and only their apartment?  Who is the man masquerading as Linda's father?  And why does he think Joyce told Linda something before she disappeared?  These are all questions that must be answered before the mystery is solved.

This is one of the few non-series mysteries of the more suspenseful type written by the husband and wife team.  Most of the stand-alone titles were written by Richard after Frances passed away in 1963.  This, I think, is also one of the best stand-alone titles with the Lockridge name on it.  Richard tended to write the stand-alones with a lot more of a thriller flavor once he was writing on his own.  While Catch as Catch Can does have a bit of the thriller feel to it, it is still owes quite a bit to the cozy.  I really like Linda Parks as the heroine, particularly in the last half of the book.  Not to spoil anything, but Geoffrey comes to her rescue only to find that (for a 1950s kind of girl) Linda is perfectly capable of helping rescue him when needed.  

A light, fun, very engaging read.  Easily managed in one sitting.  And I enjoyed every minute.  Four stars.


Quotes:
It started with little things, with things of no real significance. (p. 7)

When Geoffrey Bowen, lawyer, an assistant attorney among many, had first become a commuter the previous May he had treated commuters' trains with the respect due trains--had arrived at stations with time to spare.  But now a train was not really a train. (p. 27)

There was no point in letting the same thing happen twice. Having let it happen once had not increased his popularity. He was a man who liked to be popular. (p. 44)

Because you can't walk out on people. Not if you know things--even things that form a cobweb only--which nobody else knows. (pp. 45-6)

He was thus to become bait--live bait, it was to be hoped....They had killed once already, if Stringer was right. Why would they hesitate to kill again? Or even, if it came to that, a third time. That was a pleasant thought. Bait--live bait--may lead to a catch, but the bait had to be swallowed first. (p. 100)

1 comment:

Robin McCormack said...

Sounds interesting. I haven't read anything by this author yet. Will check him out.