Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Hand Holding Weapon
Date Finished: April 3, 2016
A fun, wacky book where the three kids take over a murder investigation in the name of the mother so that she’ll get the credit and promote her mystery books. April, the middle child, is the force behind much of their actions. They work well together, taking a lot of household responsibilities due to their mother’s work, and seem like real, though very intelligent, kids. A blackmailing woman is murdered, with everyone in the neighborhood having a motive. The kids discover it all, mess with the evidence and figure it all out, as does mother. The all try to avoid telling what they know to the police since they like the murderer so much and dislike the victim. This is great fun and presents a wonderful family life, which seems a sad contrast to Craig Rice’s own personal life.
The movie version came out in 1946. It looks like there are several places to view this online, including at http://www.rarefilmm.com/2014/12/home-sweet-homicide-1946.html.
As always, the movie differs a bit from the book, omitting quite a few characters and simplifying the plot. The murder victim, still a next door neighbor, is now mother’s literary agent. Her husband is younger and more handsome than the one I pictured in the book, leading to the movie star now interested in him, rather than another character. A young friend, Joella, who doesn’t do much in the book, serves here as a sounding board for Dinah. This leads to more conflict with April than in the book. Cherington is now a best selling author and unmarried. Here the fictional detective is also Bill Smith, played by Randolph Scott, rather than Clark Cameron, playing up the same name angle. In addition to the movie star’s boyfriend, the lawyer, his daughter, the ex-con, and the possible German spy character have been dropped, too. So, really there are no other possible suspects. Plus all of Archie’s Mob. And the King Tut language. Unlike the book, the kids do not solve this mystery, but rather attract the murderer after them. The solving is done by Bill Smith, rather than the kids, which is a disappointment after how intelligent the kids were portrayed in the book.
There is strong acting by the kids, though, especially Dean Stockwell, and really does well with an obviously limited budget. The strong source material helps a lot.