FRANCES CRANE – The Cinnamon Murder. Random House, hardcover, 1946. Hardcover reprint: Detective Book Club, 3-in-1 edition. Bantam #130, paperback, 1947.

   I’m fairly sure that part of the reason mystery readers are attracted to Frances Crane’s novels is the colorful set of titles she endowed them with. That, plus the fact that someone who picks one up to read knows that there will be a mystery involved, one that will thoroughly puzzled over before being solved in the end, and that love will find its way.

   This one takes place in New York, just as Pat and Jean Abbott are about to return home to San Francisco. This leaves Jean with just one hat, and believe me, don’t we hear about that, and how inappropriate it is for “sleuthing.”

   Why she is allowed to tag along on Pat’s cases, on one pretext or another, I don’t know. Pat is the detective in the family, and Jean misses most of everything, even those clues that might be considered of a feminine nature — clothes, fingernail polish, that sort of thing.

   Unlike the cases that Mr. and Mrs. North get involved in, there is otherwise no overt comedy in the Abbott novels, but there are more red herrings than you can flail an oar at. Jean tells the story, but Pat tells her nothing, and so after being accustomed to being left in the dark with her, I admit to being caught totally unaware when the lights went on — and this time with the guilty party firmly in Pat’s grasp.

   Feather-headed sort of stuff, but OK.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 5, September 1977 (slightly revised).

      The Pat and Jean Abbott novels [thanks to Wikipedia]

* The Turquoise Shop – 1941
* The Golden Box – 1942
* The Yellow Violet – 1942
* The Applegreen Cat – 1943
* The Pink Umbrella – 1943 (aka The Pink Umbrella Murder)
* The Amethyst Spectacles – 1944
* The Indigo Necklace – 1945 (aka The Indigo Necklace Murders)
* The Cinnamon Murder – 1946
* The Shocking Pink Hat – 1946
* Murder on the Purple Water – 1947
* Black Cypress – 1948
* The Flying Red Horse – 1949
* The Daffodil Blonde – 1950
* Murder in Blue Street – 1951 (aka Death in the Blue Hour)
* The Polkadot Murder – 1951
* 13 White Tulips – 1953
* Murder in Bright Red – 1953
* The Coral Princess Murders – 1954
* Death in Lilac Time – 1955
* Horror on the Ruby X – 1956
* The Ultraviolet Widow – 1956
* The Man in Gray – 1958 (aka The Gray Stranger)
* The Buttercup Case – 1958
* Death-Wish Green – 1960
* The Amber Eyes – 1962
* Body Beneath A Mandarin Tree – 1965

   For more on Frances Crane’s life and career, see this essay about her by Tom and Enid Schantz on their Rue Morgue Press website.