I finally broke down and read two books I have been saving for a few years. Now that I own most of the
Lockridges' work, I sadly have fewer and fewer books to experience for the first time.
The final Heimrich and the final Shapiro have been on my shelf for a good while and I recently could no
"The Tenth Life" was released in 1977 and was the last Inspector Heimrich title.
"The Old Die Young" was published in 1980 and was the last Nathan Shapiro title, as well as the last book
Richard Lockridge wrote.
I was concerned that either or both of them might be letdowns. As he neared the end of his career and
life, Mr. Lockridge's books began to show some age as well. While still well written and enjoyable, several
of the later books are somewhat tired and subdued.
"Dead Run" the preceding Heimrich, was particularly grim I thought, and Heimrich himself seemed to be
feeling worn-out and ready to ratchet back his work load.
But to my pleasant surprise these two books perked up and make very good endings to the two series.
In "The Tenth Life" the plot is so-so and the murderer is fairly easy to spot, but in general it is a very solid
and engaging book. Perhaps it was just me, but I did find the directions disjointed and the "sense of
place" was thus off. Van Brunt and environs were generally very easy to see with the minds eye, but in
Tenth it was much less in focus.
Heimrich and Susan are more of a couple than ever and we get to see the whole family together one more
time. And as noted above, the overall tone is, to a degree at least, lighter and more hopeful than some of
the other later entries.
There are a couple of interesting points to note. A teenage boy tells the Inspector that he has been
"reading a Stout" and Heimrich asks him if he knew that the author used to live nearby. Rex Stout had died
just two years before. Also, there is a very subtle reference to Jimmy Carter, who was elected the year
before Tenth Life came out
Nathan Shapiro's last hurrah is notable on several counts. We are given a last lingering glance at Bill and
Dorian Weigand. Tony Cook and Rachel Farmer reach a deeper level of commitment to each other and
their scenes continue to be the most sexually charged of the entire series. Nate and Rose are comfortable
together as always. There is major personnel news from within the NYPD and once more a Broadway play
forms the central element of the book.
The play provides the one notable boo-boo. The Shapiros, Weigands, and Cook/Farmer attend the play.
During the performance an event forces Nathan and Tony to go to work. No explanation is given for how
Rose and Rachel make it home.
Also, this scene would have been a great spot for Weigand to make a final appearance actually working at
the scene of a crime, but apparently he decided to keep his seat. Maybe Rose and Rachel shared a cab
home with Bill and Dorian.
Several instances here suggest that Richard Lockridge perhaps knew this was the last book. One clue
was Dorian's odd behavior when she calls Lt. Shapiro. Odd because she talks not like herself at all, but
rather in a confusing rush that reminds the reader instantly of a lady named Pam.
I finished reading these two books more convinced than ever that Richard and Frances Lockridge are
underrated by many people today. Their body of work was huge, and the universe they created is unlike
anything else I am aware of in literature.
|Farewell and Well Done
The Final Works of Richard Lockridge
|Copyright 2007-2010 R. Mark Johnson