(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

With the creation of their husband-and-wife team, Pam and Jerry North, Richard Lockridge and Frances Lockridge added to the small number of mystery novels featuring couples as amateur detectives. The novels featuring the Norths were immensely popular and were developed into a radio and television series, a play, and a motion picture. The Mystery Writers Association awarded the Lockridges the first Edgar Allan Poe Award for the best radio mystery program in 1946.

Both journalists, the Lockridges produced novels at a steady rate, drawing on their own experiences. Even the series about law-enforcement detectives emphasizes the characters’ personal lives and their relationships with their spouses or lovers, creating a comfortable air of stability and family strength. Although the novels feature a variety of detective figures, the Lockridge novels as a whole create a miniature world of their own, in that characters sometimes overlap series. Lockridge readers are thus provided with the pleasure of entry into a familiar world in most of the novels.

Although the Lockridges’ plotting was seldom intricate, they created a series of personable characters and picked interesting subjects as backgrounds. Simply and clearly written, their novels have been admired for the civilized tone, the gentle humor, and the glimpses they afford of American life.

Richard Lockridge and Frances Lockridge Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Banks, R. Jeff. “Mr. and Mrs. North.” The Armchair Detective 9 (June, 1976): 182-183. Appreciation of the husband-and-wife detective team.

Fraser, C. Gerald. “Richard Lockridge, Writer of North Mysteries.” The New York Times, June 21, 1982, p. D9. Obituary of Richard Lockridge describes his pairing with Frances Lockridge to write the North books and the success of the series.

Lockridge, Richard. Interview by Chris Filstrup and Jane Filstrup. The Armchair Detective 11 (October, 1978): 382-393. Interview with Lockridge about his life, work, and collaboration with his late wife.

Muller, Marcia, and Bill Pronzini, eds. Detective Duos. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. A collection celebrating tandems in the detective world, including Mr. and Mrs. North. Provides a way to compare and contrast the various pairings.

Penzler, Otto, ed. The Great Detectives. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978. Penzler, the editor of The Armchair Detective and proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, compiled these essays paying tribute to fictional detectives and their creators. Provides context for understanding the Lockridges’ work.

Shumway, David R. Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis. New York: New York University Press, 2003. Study of the representation of marriage in literature; helpful in interpreting the representation of Mr. and Mrs. North in the Lockridges’ fiction.