Frances Crane

Frances Crane – Crane wrote a series, running from 1941-65, featuring Patrick and Jean Abbott as a pair of married sleuths.   Patrick has been a private detective from the start of the series, where he takes on Jean’s case.  As the series progresses, it follows their courtship through a book or two before they became a married pair.  In tune with 1940s practice, Patrick is the actual working detective, but Jean is a shrewd partner who raises important questions; does a little investigating on her own; and, fortunately, doesn’t faint in a clinch like so many otherwise capable mystery heroines of the51puzthdcbl period.  The couple pleasingly blends the elegant with the down-to-earth!  The descriptions of the era’s clothes are a delight for me, as well.  I came in almost midway through the series with The Cinnamon Murder (1946).  I ‘ve since read several more of Crane’s novels and can say that for the most part they match this one for being deftly constructed, as well as fast-paced and witty, while still conveying feeling for the characters.  Crane has an eye for detail and captures the mood and imagery of the era – the setting is New York, amongst the post-war, wealthy set and brings in hints of surreptitious Nazis and fifth columnists, murder for money and power, as well as exciting splashes of NYC elegance and noir.  The characters move through elegant hotels and penthouses, big-city vistas of skyscrapers and rivers, an isolated and shadowed beach house, busy city street, and a Central Park where violence lurks.  The main characters respect and like each other; they’re romantic in the best tradition of 1940s wit.  And boy does EVERYBODY drink!  People must have really been able to hold that liquor back then to down all those martinis and such, yet still either commit so many murders or solve them!  I wonder whose characters could drink whose under the table:  Crane’s or Craig Rices’s.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to more excursions into the wit, intrigue, and panache of Pat and Jean.

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