GARLAND LORD – Murder Plain and Fancy. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1943.

   Garland Lord was the joint pen name of husband and wife Isabel Garland (1903-1988) and Mindret Lord (1903-1955). They wrote four books together under this name, none with series characters, the first three for Doubleday’s Crime Club imprint. Isabel also wrote one book under her own name, apparently before they decided to team up together.

   This one starts out with the hugest of coincidences. When a young man and woman, both members of a traveling actors troupe, decide to visit the latter’s long estranged aunt, against her protests that she does not want to see her, they hardly expect to find her dead in her house at the bottom of the stairs, apparently the victim of a very untimely accident.

   Well, of course, if you are reading this, you would know as soon as I did that it was no accident. What’s more, since Sheila was the woman’s only heir, it is natural for the small town local authorities to suspect that either she or her male friend Ken had something to do with it.

   You might also suspect that this is a romance as well as a detective novel, but it is not Ken who Sheila finds herself more and more attracted to, but someone local, someone who’s had a taste of big city life and has decided it is not for him. Ever so slowly he has Sheila thinking that way too. Ken, of course, is green-eyed with jealousy, and begins to act more and more suspiciously.

   The two authors do an excellent job is disguising a fairly obvious reason for the dead aunt’s strange behavior, which as it turns out is also strongly involved with the motive for her death. In that regard, this is a minor affair, but it is the characters who make the story. Even the minor ones are extremely well drawn, each in their own way. The end result is very readable.

NOTE:   According to IMDb, Mindret Lord had some success writing for movies and TV, as well as radio.