The Ticking Clock by Frances and Richard Lockridge
Last month, I read The Ticking Clock by Frances and Richard Lockridge (J. B. Lippincott Company, 1961). I picked it up at Green Element, like I do half my vintage mysteries, but at the time I didn’t realize that I know about these authors already. Another book on my shelf, called Murder Within Murder starring regular heroes Mr. and Mrs. North, is also by the Lockridges. I loved that book – and I liked this book, too!
So it wasn’t really a mystery book; really, it was a thriller with a bit of a sub-mystery to get it started. It was intrigue for a while, and then a thriller.
Our hero inherits some gigantic, monstrous house, and finally goes out to see it. At first she’s confused by the presence of a clock that’s still ticking after years, and still on the correct time. She swears something is going on, but she chalks most of it up to an annoying, nosy neighbor, and pays no attention to the half of the house that’s locked away from her.
The next morning, though, the oven is already hot when she goes into the kitchen. She finally admits to herself – she is not alone. But it goes from bad to worse when she finds herself trapped on the side of the house the others occupy, and gets worse yet when she overhears what crimes they’re involved in, what lengths they’ll go to, and who all may be involved…
How can she escape? Who can she trust?
The Book Was Great
These authors did an amazing job of putting us in the hero’s mind. The tension was drawn out, the suspense was killer, and it might have been one of the most thrilling books I’ve ever read – not due to the stakes so much as the excellent writing alone.
The only thing I didn’t like was the annoying neighbor character – not due to his annoyance itself, which was interesting and vital to the plot, but due to his later stupidity, utter blandness of a character, and the way the authors forced him on the reader. And then at the end to find out he’s part of a love story! The ending was tantamount to insult.
But, all that being said, it still didn’t take away that much from the book. This was a very good book and I’ll have to read my other one by these authors again soon, as well as look for more. They’re certainly worth collecting.