I'm jumping into the swim of things, reviewing a Mr. and Mrs. North book which I enjoyed reading while still in the midst of moving hearth and home to N.C., back in early March. DEAD AS A DINOSAUR was appealing and diverting and a pleasure to turn to at the end of a long and exhausting day.
I would have loved it more if not for the silly behavior of Mrs. North near the end, but other than that, this is very enjoyable detective yarn which features a search for a killer in the eerie (and dark) recesses of a natural history museum ala NY's Museum of Natural History on Central Park West. A natural enough place for murder and mayhem.
The fictional museum in this instance is the Broadly Institute and this is how we get there in the end: A certain Dr. Orpheus Preson, mammologist and curator currently working on a sequel to his improbably best-selling, THE DAYS BEFORE MAN, has recently been plagued by practical jokes bordering on the bizarre. Ads are being placed in area newspapers requesting any number of odd persons to show up on Preson's doorstep, from tree surgeons to pony wranglers to masseurs to someone looking to board Dr. Preson's doberman bitch - a non-existent dog, needless to say. And worse, someone has broken into Preson's apartment and messed around with some dinosaur bones he's been attempting to categorize. Again needless to say, this constant harassment is interfering with manuscript chores so a very distracted Preson turns to his publisher, Jerry North, to hold his hand and keep him from nervous self-combustion.
Yes, Preson has notified the police, but other than changing his phone number there's not much else they can advise the frazzled doctor to do.
Of course there are workplace rivalries at the museum as in any environment where academic eccentrics gather and it is possible that one of the other curators has taken it upon himself to drive a co-worker batty, though truth to tell, Preson's family is just as eccentric as he is, if not more so.
But when the pranks take a deadly turn and the cops take an interest, it's up to Jerry and Pamela North alongside their good friend Captain Bill Weigand of NY's finest, to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Mr. and Mrs. North mysteries are mostly light and diverting and probably an acquired taste. Not for those among us who prefer our stories dark and grim and gruesome, but for those of us who enjoy reading about NYC life back in the day - the glamorous 40's and 50's - coupled with a good whodunit, these are very nice books indeed and copies are easily available online.
P.S. I'm now in the middle of a re-reading binge, since while moving I re-discovered books I hadn't read in a while and all the jostling and heavy lifting re-ignited my interest - hey, that's what book collections are for. But I won't bore you with re-reviews, not to worry. However, I did, amidst the moving hither and yon, acquire a cache of vintage reads from Abe Books, which helped me immeasurably to relax at the end of seemingly never-ending days. (What is is about murder that is SO relaxing?) Thus, beginning here with DEAD AS A DINOSAUR, said cache is what I'll be talking about over the next few weeks. Probably.