There are three things Pamela North can’t resist: cocktails, kittens, and murder. Today, she’ll get all three. Still mourning the death of her beloved cat, Martini, Pamela gathers the strength to attend the fifty-third annual Colony Cat Club championship show, where she meets tomcats and tabbies of every stripe. Each one is more adorable than the last, but one of them might just be worth killing for.
Those who dedicate their lives to breeding felines would do anything for one of the Colony’s blue ribbons. So when one of the judges is accused of corruption, Pamela writes it off as sour grapes. But when the judge is found with his head bashed in and his precious kitties mewling beside his body, Pamela and her husband, Jerry, jump at the chance to investigate. For Mrs. North, this kind of killing is catnip.
The Judge Is Reversed is the 24th book in the Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Judge is Reversed
A Mr. and Mrs. North Mystery
By Frances Lockridge, Richard Lockridge
MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated MediaCopyright © 1961 Frances and Richard Lockridge
All rights reserved.
There was, Pamela North said, no use waiting to be adopted. "Because," she said, "of the elevator. It's asking too much."
She said this across the breakfast table, on a bright morning in early September. Jerry said, "Um-m-m" and, "Somebody ought to teach him a second service" and then, "What, Pam?" When he said the last he looked up from the folded newspaper stretched beside his plate.
Pam did not repeat, but only waited for seepage, which she assumed to be inevitable. Momentarily, her words lay on a mind's surface, like drops of water on dry soil. They would penetrate.
"The elevator does complicate it," Jerry North said. "You're ready, then?"
"Yes," she said. "It's empty the way it is. Of course, there'll never be another —"
He smiled at her; smiled tenderly.
"All right," Pam said. "Take it as unsaid. All the same, it's true."
"Of course," Jerry said. "Nor was there another Pete. Another Ruffy. Each one is different. It's a matter of luck. You cross your fingers and take a chance."
He waited for her to nod her head. She didn't "puddle up," any more. So it was time for the next cat.
"You're right about not being adopted," he said. "Sitting on a doorstep. Yes. Any cat may be expected to do that. But not coming up in the elevator."
Pete, who was the first cat, had sat, in the rain, on a stoop in the Village, waited to be rescued, spoken of discomfort, and been a kitten then. That had been long ago, when the Norths had lived in a walk-up. Pete had been black and white.
"Anyway," Jerry said, "Siamese don't adopt much. Unless?"
"Oh," Pam said, "I think so. If we can find some who aren't too pointed."
She meant of face. Jerry knew she meant of face. When things have been said often enough, they go without further saying. Jerry said, "So?"
"Sampling," Pam said. "You want to sample with me?"
He raised eyebrows.
"The fifty-third annual championship show of the Colony Cat Club," Pam said. "All breeds. There's a story about it in the Times. At the Burnside. The last day."
"No," Jerry said. "Author trouble."
She said, "Bad?"
"Lunch," he said. "Soothing of ruffled feathers. They're feathery beasts."
"Whose second service?" Pam asked him, and this time he all but missed — said "Wh —" and then, "Oh."
"Doug Mears's," he said. "Double-faulted eleven times in one set. Won it but — Al Laney's very cross about it. In the Herald Trib."
"Mr. Laney's often cross," Pam said. "Are we going out tomorrow? Or will there be authors in the way?"
"On Saturday?" Jerry said, in some astonishment. Pam said, a little absently, that she supposed authors had Saturdays, like anybody else. "Not," Jerry told her, and now was grim, "on my time."
He looked at his watch, then, and said, "Good God," in a tone of surprise. Always, Pam North thought, he felt the same surprise, expressed it so. And always at about the same time of morning. It is pleasant, Pam thought, to be sure of things. It provides continuity.
Jerry went, leaning slightly to starboard under the weight of brief case full of manuscript. It was amazing, when one stopped to think of it, how long books were getting. Pam stopped only briefly to think of it. She poured herself more coffee, and read Mr. Al Laney, in the New York Herald Tribune, on the fourth-round matches in the national championships at Forest Hills. Mr. Laney was, indeed, very cross. He was cross not so much at Doug Mears, who had offended, as at his mentors, who let him continue to hit his second service as hard, and as flat, as his first. No good would come of that, Mr. Laney felt. If young players, and especially young players as promising as Doug Mears, were not better advised by their elders, the Davis Cup would remain in Australia for the foreseeable future. Mr. Laney evidently thought this would be very bad for it.
Pam turned from Mr. Laney to Mr. Walter Lippmann, who also was having a dark day. It was time, Pam decided, to glance at Mr. David Lawrence, whose column she habitually takes in small, therapeutic doses. A paragraph or two of Lawrence, taken with coffee, raises the blood pressure and arouses the mind, eliminating any possible trace of morning lethargy. Overdosage must, of course, be avoided, as of any counter-irritant.
Pam abandoned Mr. Lawrence when she felt the first glow of rage, said "Yah!" in his general direction, and went to clothe herself. She left a note for Martha — they would need more coffee and all the lemons in the refrigerator were naked, so they would need more lemons — and went down the elevator (which cats could not be expected to use) into the bright crispness of the September day. She wrapped the brightness around her, knowing it transient, and walked half a dozen blocks before she took a cab to the Hotel Burnside, which had a ballroom full of cats.
Pam paid at the desk, bought a catalogue, and walked among cages to look at cats. She was, in turn, looked at — looked at, distantly, through yellow eyes and green eyes, blue eyes and amber. Cats in cages crouched on cushions, nibbled from food dishes, scratched behind ears. But mostly, Pam felt, they looked at her — at her and the other people who walked between the rows of cages. Of course, she thought. The cats are attending a people show. How nice for them. Her mind checked. Perhaps, on the other hand, it wasn't nice for them at all. A dull breed, the cats might think; a dull gray breed in monochrome.
The cats came in a variety of design, and this fact, which should not have surprised Pam North, was so dramatized by feline multitude that it did somewhat startle her. Black and white cats are to be anticipated; yellow cats are numerous enough and almost all cats run a little to tabby stripings. But these cats nevertheless dazzled. Some of the cats called "blue" were, indeed, almost blue in glossy fur; silver cats glimmered in the shadow of their cages. And the black cats wore jewels for eyes.
The trouble with the long-hairs, Pam found herself thinking, is that they are a little showy. Beautiful but — unrestrained. This one, she thought — pausing to look into a cage at a red tabby — really carries things too far. "Pretty kitty," Pam said, absently, to the red tabby, who reclined on what appeared to be velvet. Pretty kitty turned away her head. Or his head. Number 181, pretty kitty was, and Pam looked the number up in the catalogue. She read, "Morland's Enchanted Lady of Purrland, Dbl.Ch. Kute Kit Monarch of Purrland ex Lady Four Paws Beautiful of Purrland. Br-own Miss Rebecca Wuerth."
"Goodness," Pam North said, aloud but not especially to Enchanted Lady of Purrland. It had to be said to someone. "Poor Kitty," Pam said, this time to the red tabby. What cats must think of people who named them so!
"If you please," a thin voice said and Pam turned. The voice came from under a hat made of pink flowers. It came from between colorless lips in a sallow face. The woman who spoke wore a long black dress with — with fringe. Pam felt that she had wasted her "Goodness." This, if ever, was the time for it. "If you please," the woman said again and, assuming that to be desired, Pam moved away from Enchanted Lady's cage. The woman in black and pink — and fringe! — opened Enchanted Lady's cage and took the cat out of it. The woman found a stool and, from somewhere in the black dress, a brush and a comb. Without speaking to the cat, she began to brush her. The cat was equally without comment.
There couldn't be much fun in it for anybody, Pam North thought, and smiled at the sallow woman in the pink — my God, why pink? — hat and was looked through. Pam went on, seeking Siamese. Siamese would, without doubt, have something to say.
She found them presently — a long row of Siamese. She spoke to the nearest, and was instantly spoken to. Thata-cat, Pam thought, and looked closer. A seal point, beautifully marked, sinuous even in repose, with a tail like a long brown whip — and, with a face that came to a point. "You poor thing," Pam said, and sighed.
You spoke to cats and people also answered.
"Why?" a woman asked Pam North. "Why poor thing? A double grand champion. Why a poor thing?"
This woman was much younger and wore no hat at all; she wore a tweed suit of soft brown; she had pale hair and a pink face. And she was too large, too sturdy a woman for a tweed suit. Which was her business, not Pam's.
"Oh," Pam said. "A prejudice. I know they're bred for pointed faces nowadays. I just wish they weren't." She looked down the Siamese row. "And they all are," she said. "It makes it very difficult."
The woman in the tweed suit repeated the last word. She had a robust voice.
"I'm sampling," Pam said. "Mine — ours —" She paused momentarily. "Died," she said. It still wasn't easy to say. "She had a round face," Pam said. "A baby face." She looked again at the lithe double grand champion. "She looked like a cat," Pam said. "I think they should."
"They're supposed to have wedge-shaped faces," the woman in tweed said, and was somewhat impatient.
"A wedge," Pam North said, with conviction, "isn't a cone."
It was a last word. Pam was not sure it was precisely the word she wanted, but there is no use arguing with people who — presumably — show cats. "Anyway," Pam said, as one more word, and started to move down the row of cages.
"You're looking for a cat," the tweed woman said. "Perhaps I can help you. Sometimes they — revert. Even in the best lines — I'm Madeline Somers."
It seemed to Pam that the expected answer to that probably was "Not really?" She could not manage it. She said, "I'm Pamela North," with no thought that Madeline Somers would care particularly. It was merely a matter of fair exchange.
"Not really!" Madeline Somers said, heartily. Pam looked at her with widened eyes.
"The Mrs. North," Madeline Somers said, and this time with triumph. Pam blinked her eyes, involuntarily. "The —" Madeline Somers said and stopped abruptly. "The —" Miss Somers repeated, but with obviously less confidence. "Wait," Miss Somers said, and Pam waited. "Criminologist!" Miss Somers said, triumph regained. And to this Pam, after a little shuffling of her mind, could only say, "Oh." She shuffled further. "Not really," she said.
"You and your husband," Miss Somers said. "Don't tell me. He's — wait. He's a publisher, but you and he are private —"
"No," Pam said. "I suppose you mean detective. Or maybe eyes. We're not at all. It's only that —" It was her turn to pause. As years had passed, it had grown more difficult. The fault of the newspapers, Pam thought. "All it is," she said, "we know a detective. It — the rest just seems to happen." It wasn't adequate. "Somehow," Pam North added, not feeling she made it any clearer. "Once," she said, "we found a body in a bathtub. That's all there was to it, really."
Madeline Somers looked down at Pam North. After a moment, she said, "Well." Pam saw her point, but did not feel that there was anything to be done about it.
"You are in the market for a cat?" Madeline Somers said, and became brisk again. "A Siamese?"
"If not too pointed," Pam said. "I came here just — well, to see if there was anything new in cats. A — a new fall line, I suppose."
Madeline Somers blinked slightly.
"I sell cats," she said. "Breeders' Nook."
"Here," Madeline Somers said, and opened her show program and thrust it toward Pam, a finger marking. The finger marked an advertisement.
The Breeders' Nook
Registered Persians, Siamese, Abyssinians
Burmese — all breeds. Cheetahs Sometimes
Available. Ocelots may be ordered.
Madeline Somers. — Madison Avenue.
"Goodness," Pam said. "Not cheetahs?"
"Well," Madeline Somers said, "I don't argue there's much demand. Big for apartments. And ocelots get chest colds, of course. But — you don't want an ocelot, probably."
"A pet shop," Pam said. She could not keep doubt out of her voice. The Norths are by no means of what cat people call The Fancy. But still — pet shops?
"Not the way you mean," Madeline Somers said. "Oh, I know what you mean. These are all registered cats, from good breeders. More like a — say a cat exchange. A clearing house." Pam looked up at her. "Oh," the tweeded woman said, "I don't contend they're all show types. But I take it you don't want a cat to show."
"No," Pam said. "To talk to. To — talk with."
"A Siamese," Madeline Somers said, with understanding. "I've got —"
"Outrageous," a thin, high voice — a piercing voice — said from somewhere. "Incompetence. Or worse."
They turned to look toward the voice's source. It was the kind of voice which, in itself, somehow creates a situation. Only an emergency could justify such a voice. The lithe seal point at whom Pam had first looked rose from his folded blanket. He growled deep in his throat.
They were near an open section, in which a good many people — mostly women — were already gathered. The voice came from there, pierced out from there. A woman in a long black dress — a dress with fringe — stood on one side of a table and looked up at a tall man. The tall man was slim, erect; he had a tanned face and regular features; he had gray hair. Over a dark suit, he wore, somewhat unexpectedly, a butcher's apron. It was immaculate; it was still inappropriate. White tie and tails — the man suggested that.
There were half a dozen portable cages on the table in front of the little woman — the sallow, wiry little woman in the fringed dress, the equally improbable pink hat. Medallioned ribbons lay on two of the cages.
"Don't think I don't know," the woman in the black dress said, and her voice cut. "Don't think you can pull the wool over my eyes. Call yourself a judge —"
"Poor Becky Wuerth," Madeline Somers said. "Somebody ought to do something. The poor thing. And poor John Blanchard, too."
Pam raised eyebrows.
"The all-breeds judge," Miss Somers said. "Here." She opened her catalogue again, again a finger marked. "Judge: Mr. John Blanchard."
"They were lucky to get him," Miss Somers said. "And now poor Becky Wuerth."
"I take it," Pam said, "that her cat didn't win."
"Apparently," Miss Somers said. "The trouble is, hers usually don't. And if it's Enchanted Lady again — well, Lady is just a pretty red. Why Becky thinks —" She paused. She smiled faintly. "Actually," she said, "most of them — I suppose I ought to be honest and say us — suspect dirty work at the crossroads when we don't win the blues. Partly pride — partly just admiration of their own cats. Our own cats. But for the breeders — well, money enters in. Stud fees. The prices kittens will bring. So — judges are incompetent. At best, as poor Becky shouted. At worst — you ought to hear them, Mrs. North."
"If you think you're going —" Rebecca Wuerth, indignant owner of Enchanted Lady of Purrland, daughter of Dbl.Ch. Kute Kit Monarch of Purrland and Lady Four Paws Beautiful, began, her voice a knife in the air. But then a comfortable woman in a blue dress came up behind her and made soothing sounds in a soft voice. "All the same," Rebecca Wuerth said. "If he thinks he's heard the last —"
She did not finish. She went away; Pam felt that she was more or less led away. The tall, spare man in the butcher's apron had said nothing; had not seemed to hear. Now he motioned, and two men carried caged cats from the judging table.
"Class forty-four," a public-address system said. "Blue male novice."
The two men who had carried caged cats away returned with new caged cats — four caged cats.
The tall man took a cat from a cage. The cat dangled. Then the cat wrapped himself around the judge's hands. The tall man shook slightly, and put the cat on the table. The cat was very handsome, long-haired, amber eyes. He permitted the tall man to run hands over him, hold his tail extended; lift him and gaze into his eyes. The judge put the cat back in his cage and lifted another blue from the next cage. The group which had watched the earlier judging drifted away; a new group drifted in.
Excerpted from The Judge is Reversed by Frances Lockridge, Richard Lockridge. Copyright © 1961 Frances and Richard Lockridge. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews