Tue 1 Mar 2011
by Ellen Nehr
LESLIE FORD – Ill Met by Moonlight. Farrar & Rinehart, hardcover, 1938. Reprint paperbacks include: Dell #6, mapback edition, no date ; Popular Library 60-2440, 1964.
Leslie Ford (a pseudonym of Zenith Brown, who also wrote as David Frome) has often been accused of being one of the leading practitioners of the “had-I-but-known” school, and it is true that a great many of these leading and tension-spoiling statements appear in her novels.
However, shortsighted critics have overlooked her carefully delineated exploration of life among people who are not too different from the average reader except in the fact that, through familial associations, political affinity, or geographic accident, they invite more than their fair share of murder and well-bred mayhem.
This is the second adventure of Colonel John T. Primrose and Sergeant Phineas Buck, one in which the unlikely but highly successful combination of retired officer and retired enlisted man is teamed with a thirty-eight-year-old widow, Grace Latham. Grace is of a distinguished Georgetown family, and her elegant home forms the backdrop for many of the books in this series.
Ill Met by Moonlight takes place in another setting — April Harbor, Maryland, a summer playground for an inbred group of upper-crust families, where Grace and her relatives have been vacationing for years. Primrose and Buck are guests at Grace’s cottage when she finds a neighbor dead of carbon-monoxide poisoning in the garage next door.
An old romance, a troubled marriage, a new love affair, and relationships with the folks in the neighboring town are all woven together in this engrossing and charming tale of love and murder.
Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007. Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.