Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice

27. Home Sweet Homicide
by Craig Rice
mystery, 1944
paperback, 209 pages
finished, 5/5/09

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.


  1. I love the lilac header - too beautiful, I can almost smell it! And your snakes. Not a great one for murder/mysteries but you've given this an enticing review so I might be tempted.

  2. Hi Nan, I've just taken delivery of the first 3 Wallander books. It's the half term holiday here and I want to make a start. All the talk on your blog encouraged me!
    Love the cover of the book you've reviewed today.

  3. Locksparkfarm, this really isn't your usual murder mystery. :<)

    Rattling On, lucky, lucky you. I'm so wanting to read the Wallander stories! It is a great cover on HSH, and it reflects what it inside!

  4. I'm not quite sure, but I think I read this book (in Swedish, Mord lilla mor = Murder, little mother) a summer when I was about 12 years old. Now when I know who has written it I'll see if the library has it.

  5. Margaretha, wow, what a difference in title! Is it maybe like saying 'it is a murder, little mother' but why the 'little??' Even between England and the US they change titles. I don't understand why.

  6. Nan,
    Beautiful the close-up of the lilacs! I have a lovely, fragrant bouquet in my home
    that we are all enjoying!
    Enjoy this wonderful time of year!

  7. Thank you, Joanne! Everywhere I look there are lilacs. I saw someone pick a bouquet from a lilac tree next to a parking lot yesterday!

  8. Titles are tricky to translate as puns and initial rhyme usually get lost. Since the Swedish word for homicide doesn't resemble the word home, they did the next best, using a Swedish expression "Mother little mother who is like you" (Mor lilla mor vem är väl som du?). I think it is part of an old sentimental verse for children.
    Translating is indeed an art that not every translator master! Certainly not Google - I tried to find out what an Hungarian blog said yesterday - but the Swedish that Google came up with was as exotic as the original Hungarian!

  9. This does sound fun - I've never heard of this author before reading your blog, so I must look in the library.

  10. Wow, you've been busy while I was gone! :)
    Well, Nan, another great review, another book added to my list! I like a light murder mystery filled with humor. There's too much of the gritty stuff on the nightly news to make me want to read it in print.
    I loved your review of Revolutionary Road. I'm not an R movie watcher, so reading your review gave me the perfect little bite of the film.
    Your coment on my post made me think. I was wondering about Thomas' English muffins myself. Did they change the recipe? One day I grabbed a package of sourdough muffins by mistake. When you are not expecting sourdough....bleah.
    Have a happy Memorial Day!

  11. Em, that was so, so interesting to read. Thank you!

    Geranium Cat, I haven't read any other books by her, so I will be interested if you read one to hear what you think.

    Karin, I think you'd like the book. And I'm not a sourdough fan at all!

  12. I wonder if you were a fan of the All of a Kind of Family books as well as the Edward Eager Half Magic books? Your comment on longing for sibs struck a chord, I had one I was not close to and felt lonely and envied those big families (of course, now, I am friends with my sister, age changes everything!).

  13. Thanks for the recommendation, Nan. My eldest is desperately trying to find a good, vintage mystery, since she finsihed "The Mystery of Coveside House". I know she'd love this!

  14. Susan, Thank you for taking the time to give me the recommendations. This is exactly what I love the comments to be! I read through the whole All of a Kind Family series six years ago, having missed them in childhood and in my kids' childhoods. Great, great books. I've read the first Eager book, and look forward to the others. Glad to hear you and your sister are close. That doesn't always happen even in adulthood.

  15. Dulce Domum, that's great! And now of course I must look into the Coveside House book. :<)


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