Saturday, May 23, 2009
Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice
27. Home Sweet Homicide
by Craig Rice
paperback, 209 pages
Home Sweet Homicide is described as Rice's 'happy book' and it is indeed; well, as happy as a murder mystery can be. The joy comes from the three children - Dinah who is 14, April who is 12, and Archie who is 10. (I love lists of children and their ages in books, leftover from my childhood longing for brothers and sisters.) Their mother is a widow in her thirties who spends most of her time writing mysteries to support the family. Just at the moment April says, 'I wish Mother would solve a real life murder. She'd get a lot of publicity, and then she wouldn't have to write so many books' - shots ring out in the neighborhood. They are going to alert their mother, but after realizing she is deep into her book and mustn't be disturbed, they decide to embark on the 'preliminary investigation' themselves. After all says April confidently, 'I've read all Mother's books and I know just what to do.' They decide not to involve the police yet because one of their mother's fictional detective never does. They think they might find an important clue to give to their mother so she will get all that publicity.
Isn't this a delightful beginning to a book? And it just goes on and on. They are snappy talkers using all the slang of those times. They are full of wit and wisecracks. Of course the police must get involved, and the children light upon the lieutenant as the perfect man for their mother.
There are lots of characters and stories, but the real pleasure of Home Sweet Homicide is the adventures of the children. Because their mother works so hard and so much, they practically raise themselves. They can pretty much go about their business without any interference or guidance from her. The reader gets a terrific glimpse into the lives of young people in those days; their social lives, the foods they eat, and as I noted, the way they talk. The mystery is a fine one but the book is really about the life and times of these three kids. A very fun, enjoyable book. It is published by the great Rue Morgue Press which is bringing back into print so many of the classic mysteries. There is an introduction by the press owners, Tom and Enid Schantz, in which they tell us a lot about Craig Rice, and set us straight that this book doesn't reflect the author's life just because she had three children and was an author of mysteries.
I wrote a book report on another selection from Rue Morgue Press here ; and a review of a Craig Rice story here.