Mystery review: Home Sweet Homicide, by Craig Rice (1944)


Bottom line: I found this book delightful. Picked up in the fabulous Murder by the Book bookstore in Houston, this re-release from Otto Penzler made for a fabulous Saturday afternoon read.


Was the plot improbable? Completely.


Did the solution hinge on a set of ludicrous coincidences? Absolutely.


Was the socioeconomic mixture of one street in the outskirts of Los Angeles really confusing? Definitely.


But - I laughed, I cheered, and gosh darn it, I wished I had access to a chocolate malt with double whipped cream from Luke's and kittens named Inky and Stinky.


The plot - such as it is - centers around the three children (Dinah, April, and Archie) of the mystery novelist Marian Carstairs (very, very, very loosely based on Craig Rice herself). When shots ring out next door - and a woman is found murdered - the children launch their own investigation: first, since solving the murder would mean their mother could make more money as an author (and relax), and then, with even more energy, to pair her up with the lead detective (Bill Smith) on the case. Some light blackmail, crime scene tampering, a few red herrings, a party that ends in a house being burned down, and many, many baked goods later, the children and Detective Bill manage to solve the crime. What happens with Marian and Detective Bill ... well, I'll let you read it to find out.


As Stefon might report, this book had everything: screwball comedy, a secret language, an ingenue, Slukey, Flashlight, Pinhead, and Washboard, and lemon meringue pie.


Pairs well with a peanut butter, cream cheese, jam, ham, and banana sandwich, garnished with olive.


For more Home Sweet Homicide: it was made into a movie in 1946 - which I have not seen (yet).


Overall: 3 1/2 Sherlocks and a Watson, will read again, and planning to work my way through more of Craig's oeuvre in 2019. Will report back!




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