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Crane, Frances Kirkwood

Page history last edited by Jon 9 years, 5 months ago

Frances Kirkwood Crane (1896-1981) was an American writer. She was born in Illinois and educated at the University of Illinois, Urbana. She married Ned Crane and later moved to New York.

 

Source: Thrilling Detective

 

Frances Kirkwood Crane wrote a series of detective stories about a married couple, Pat and Jean Abbot, reminiscent of the Lockridges' Mr and Mrs North or Delano Ames's Dagobert and Jane Brown. Definitely on the cozier side of the P.I. genre, but enjoyable enough in their own way, and at the time one of the most popular of the detecting couples.

 

Crane was an American writer living in England and Europe who regularly sold pieces to the New Yorker, and moved to Germany in the late thirties, where her outspokeness clashed with the current Nazi regime and eventually led to her expulsion. Recently divorced, with a college-age daughter, Nancy, in tow and in desparate need of money, she moved back to the States and started writing mysteries, which one of her old editors assured her was a "hot market." It was certainly hot enough for Crane -- she enjoyed a long, productive and successful career, her final mystery published when she was 78 years old, having had a "better run than many women mystery writers of the era... publishing well into the 1960s."

 

Nancy, a sculptor and writer, eventually married Black Mask pulp writer Norbert Davis, who committed suicide in 1949.

 

The Pat and Jean Abbot series

 

When JEAN HOLLY marries the dapper, slick PAT ABBOTT, one of the more interesting married teams of detectives is born. He's the slick and dapper San Francisco gumshoe and she's the not-quite-bubbleheaded little wifey running a small antique shop in New Mexico, who has a habit of stumbling into trouble and doing her best thinking while sitting in a bath tub. They meet "cute" in the first book, marry in the third and eventually settle down in a Southern mansion in New Orleans, but their adventures take them all over the map. A sort of globetrotting Nick and Nora, Pat and Jean venture to such places as Tangiers The Coral Princess, New Mexico Horror on the Ruby X.

 

The books were all narrated by Jean, and it's through her that we are treated to some particularly well described settings and secondary characters; ironically, we never really get to know either her or Pat. Twenty-six novels in all, originally published in England, with a colour in the title of each one, a gimmick neatly scooping John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee by over twenty years. A good mixture of cozy and soft-boiled that proved successful enough to spawn a radio show.

 

The Pat and Jean Abbott books are available from Rue Morgue Press.

 

Bibliography

 

The Turquoise Shop (1941)

The Golden Box (1942)

The Yellow Violet (1942)

The Applegreen Cat (1943)

The Pink Umbrella (1943)

The Amethyst Spectables (1944)

The Indigo Necklace (1945)

The Cinnamon Murder (1946)

The Shocking Pink Hat (1946)

Murder on the Purple Water (1947)

Black Cypress (1948)

The Flying Red Horse (1950)

The Daffodil Blonde (1950)

Murder in Blue Street (1951)

The Polka Dot Murder (1951)

Murder in Bright Red (1953)

13 White Tulips (1953)

The Coral Princess Murder (1954)

Death in Lilac Time (1955)

Horror on the Ruby X (1956)

The Ultraviolet Widow (1956)

The Buttercup Case (1958)

The Man in Gray (1958)

Death-Wish Green (1960)

The Amber Eyes (1961)

Body Beneath a Mandarin Tree (1965)

 

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