Beginning in the early 1940's, Frances Crane wrote a series of over 25 books featuring Pat and Jean Abbott. Most of the books had a color in the title, and they were set in a variety of locations. The couple meet in New Mexico, where Jean has an antique shop. Pat is from San Francisco, and the book I just read is set in New Orleans. Pat is a private investigator, and does most of the investigating, but the stories are narrated by Jean.
In The Indigo Necklace, published in 1945, Pat and Jean are living in a rented apartment in an old house in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where Pat is stationed toward the end of World War II. Jean describes the group of people living in the house:
This was an interesting place. It had charm. On the surface, it had tranquility. Underneath, strange currents ran darkly. Roger Clary had an invalid wife. The wife had a nurse. The nurse only spoke French. Aunt Dollie and Uncle George Sears had been visiting Aunt Rita Clary for seven years, but they had been waiting to go back to Paris. The Graham girls called this their home and Toby Wick had the run of the place when he didn't seem in the least to belong. It was very interesting. And we were lucky to be here.
Mysterious things happen; someone walks through the Abbott's living room while Jean is dozing. Later, a woman dies in the courtyard of the building. When they discover that it is murder, Pat and Jean become involved in the investigation.
Based on what I have read about the series, these books often fall into the "woman in peril" sub-genre. Jean is unafraid and gets herself involved in trouble often. Based on this novel, I would guess that there is enough entertainment in the novels regardless of this, and especially if you enjoy a picture of the times in which they were written. I will try more of these books to find out.
What I really loved about this book were the descriptions of the French Quarter and the building the Abbott's live in. That building sounded so much like a place my husband and I stayed in many years ago when we visited the French Quarter, called the Maisonettes. The rooms all faced a courtyard, with a fountain. The building was very old, from the early 1800s.
Jean and Pat live near to the St. Louis Cathedral, and go for walks in that area. They eat at many restaurants that still exist in the French Quarter: Antoine's, Arnaud's. The season is summer and it is hot and muggy. I felt like I was there with them.
- Sarah at Crimepieces reviews The Golden Box and Thirteen White Tulips.
- Moira at Clothes in Books looks at Thirteen White Tulips here and here.
The photos in this post were taken by my husband in 1979 in the French Quarter, New Orleans. The top picture is the St. Louis Cathedral. The bottom picture was the door to our room at the Maisonettes. Note that in the background of the middle picture (also of the Maisonettes) there is a tiny spiral staircase from the veranda to the courtyard. It was for the resident cat.