Frances and Richard Lockridge (1896-1963/1898-1982)

richard frances lockridgeFrances and Richard Lockridge were some of the most popular names in mystery during the forties and fifties. Having written numerous novels and stories, the husband-and-wife team was most famous for their Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries. What started in 1936 as a series of stories written for the New Yorker turned into twenty-six novels, including adaptions for Broadway, film, television, and radio. The Lockridges continued writing together until Frances’s death in 1963, after which Richard discontinued the Mr. and Mrs. North series and wrote other works until his own death in 1982.

Richard Lockridge was born on 26 September 1898 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and was educated at the University of Missouri. After serving in the United States Navy, he returned to Missouri, working as a reporter on the Kansas City Kansan and the Kansas City Star. In 1922, he married fellow reporter Frances Louise Davis. Frances was born on 10 January 1896 in Kansas City Missouri, and was educated at the University of Kansas. Before her marriage she was a reporter and music critic for the Kansas City Post. In 1937, Frances Lockridge conceived the plot for a detective novel, but had problems with her characters. Richard Lockridge collaborated with his wife, using her plot and the characters he had created earlier for a series of comic sketches in The New Yorker, Mr. and Mrs. North (named for the “stupid people who played the north hand in bridge problems,” according to Lockridge). The book was published in 1940 as The Norths Meet Murder, launching a series of twenty-six novels, which was adapted for the stage, film, radio, and television.

In 1960, Richard and Frances Lockridge were co-presidents of the Mystery Writers of America. They received a special Edgar Award in 1962. Richard Lockridge had received an Edgar in 1945 for best radio play.

Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp introduces the first North mystery as follows:

In the first North mystery, The Norths Meet Murder (the publication year customarily given as 1940, though my paperback edition gives the first printing as December 1939), the Lockridges introduced not only the Norths, but the recurring character Lieutenant Weigand (known to his underlings on the force, like Detective Mullins, as “Loot”), who “doesn’t seem like a policeman” to the Norths and their society friends (he’s too much like them, don’t you know).

The Norths start off their career as a mystery fiction couple in classic fashion, finding a man’s naked, battered body in a bathtub in the empty top floor apartment of the Greenwich Village brownstone where they live. This discovery brings Weigand and Mullins into their lives. Soon Weigand, through some clever police work, identifies the corpse as one of the North’s own social set! And the Norths are suspects!!

Further reading:


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Frederick A. Stokes Company (USA), 1940)

Mr. and Mrs. North stumble upon a corpse—and fall backward into murder
Jerry and Pamela North’s upstairs apartment has been empty as long as they can remember. It’s an ordinary Greenwich Village abode, and the Norths are ordinary Villagers—which means they can’t bear to go more than a few days between cocktail parties. So when Pamela decides to stage a soiree in the empty apartment, Jerry goes along begrudgingly. But what seems inconvenient becomes felonious the moment they find a dead man in the tub. He has been bludgeoned, stripped naked, and left to rot. The party is most certainly off.
Which neighbor was rude enough to leave a body in the upstairs tub? Though they should know better, Mr. and Mrs. North can’t resist getting involved. Before they know it, they’re right in the thick of a manhunt, and Greenwich Village will never be the same.
The Norths Meet Murder is the 1st book in the Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order. (Source: Mysterious Press)

The Norths Meet Murder has been reviewed, among others, at The Passing Tramp, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, My Reader’s Block, Mystery File, and Classic Mysteries.