Craig Rice – No doubt about it, Rice makes you quirk more than a smile or two with her novels. Her tongue is firmly in her cheek as she writes. The mysteries are tight, clever little numbers; and though the characters aren’t terribly deep, you end up feeling for some of them. Probably my favorite is Home Sweet Homicide, about an smart, attractive, creative widow who supports her family by writing murder mysteries. Things get a little sticky when a real murder happens on their block and her kids decide to arrange things so that she will solve it and, consequently, increase sales of her books. They think she works way too hard and deserves a little help. The kids are fun, though they can be a little bratty to one of the detectives on the murder case who thinks he knows kids better than his younger partner. Guess which detective the kids think would make a great match for their mom? The film version has a warm, humorous Lynn Bari as the mother. Two other of Rice’s books that I read are Having Wonderful Crime and The Lucky Stiff, part of a series with a three-person detective team: a young husband and wife and a slightly older, slightly seedy lawyer. The mysteries are clever and take you around a turn or two, the humor is sharp, and the wife is no weak sister. I don’t remember her fainting, but I could be mistaken. I guess when you put away as much hard liquor as the characters do in this series, it takes a lot more to knock you down for the count. Both Having Wonderful Crime and The Lucky Stiff were made into delightful films in the 1940s.
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