Let us pause for a moment to think of the great detective couples - husband and wife (or husband-to-be and wife-to-be) who find themselves caught up in a murder case and set out to solve it. It was a very popular genre during and after the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, particularly in the United States. There were Pat and Jean Abbott...Mr.and Mrs. North...Nick and Nora Charles...
And, of course, Jeff and Haila Troy.
The Troys starred in a marvelous series of mystery-comedies written by another detective couple, so to speak: Kelley Roos, the pen name of William and Audrey Roos. Jeff and Haila made their first appearance in 1940 in "Made Up to Kill," which is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast. You can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
So who were Jeff and Haila? Well, Haila, at the beginning of our story, was Haila Rogers, a young actress playing mostly small parts in Broadway plays. Jeff Troy wanted to marry her - but he had an employment problem of sorts: he found it nearly impossible to find and keep a job. At the beginning of "Made Up to Kill," in fact, Jeff has been invited to take an involuntary vacation from his job in advertising. Haila has been given a role in a play called "Green Apples." Unfortunately, another actress in the show, Haila's roommate, is very nearly murdered on opening night. And the very next night, the murderer strikes again, this time successfully, killing the leading lady. Jeff finds himself hired as a private detective to solve the murder - with Haila's help (if you define "help" rather loosely).
Like many of the other books about husband-and-wife teams, "Made Up to Kill" is as much a sophisticated comedy of manners as it is a mystery. The dialogue is funny and the book moves very quickly - it's quite satisfying. If you have fond memories of those black-and-white mystery-comedy movies that were so popular during the middle years of the 20th century, you'll very likely enjoy reading "Made Up to Kill."