Richard Lockridge was born in Missouri in 1898 and became a journalist and drama critic for the New York Sun. In 1922, he married his wife Frances, a reporter and music critic for the Kansas City Post, and the duo eventually developed two comedic characters from newspaper vignettes and radio comedy that they modeled on themselves—the amateur detectives Mr. and Mrs. North. That particular series was so popular, it ultimately inspired 40 books in the North series, a movie starring George Burns and Gracie Allen, a long-running play on Broadway, a radio drama and a TV show with Richard Demming and Barbara Britton.
The prolific husband-and-wife writing team also created another mystery series featuring the sleepy-eyed Captain Merton Heimrich of the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Identification. In 1962's First Come, First Kill, a shabby, elderly man is shot on the driveway of the house where Heimrich and his wife Susan live, managing to say only one word before he dies: "well." As Heimrich digs into the background of the victim, "Old Tom"—an eccentric but harmless itinerant gardener—it quickly becomes evident that the case of the murdered man is linked to an unsolved disappearance of a New York Supreme Court Justice who'd vanished years before. The trail leads even farther afield to London and Mexico, until Heimrich realizes the murderer is uncomfortably closer to home.
Of the Richard and Frances authorial collaboration, Richard once noted, "We had story conferences and wrote a summary. As we both insisted, the writing was entirely mine." Frances was primarily a force in the plotting stage, which Richard would then turn into a 200-page manuscript. This was especially true with the Lt. Merton Heimrich books; the authors were billed as "Frances and Richard" for the North novels and "Richard and Frances" for the Heimrich series. In fact, after Frances died in 1963 (First Come, First Kill was their last book together), Richard continued the Heimlich line on his own with eight more books and penned several other series, as well.
A few trivia notes: The Lockridges served as co-presidents of the Mystery Writers of America in 1960 and received a special Edgar Award in 1962. Francis Richards was a pseudonym for the Richard & Francis Lockridge books used exclusively in the UK.