I'm hosting Friday's Forgotten Books for Patti Abbott today. Be sure and scroll down at the bottom of this post for all the latest FFB links from around the blogosphere.
But first, She Shall Have Murder by Delano Ames.
Delano Ames (1906-1987) was born in Ohio to a newspaperman father. In 1929 Ames married Maysie Grieg, who later became a highly successful author of lighthearted romances, and the duo settled in Greenwich Village where Ames published his first novel, a philosophical look at the Greek gods entitled A Double Bed on Olympus. When the couple divorced, Ames moved to England where he remarried and worked for British intelligence during the second World War.
After the war, according to his tongue-in-cheek autobiography, he "translated an erudite history of keyboard instruments from the French, and believes that at least 100 copies were sold." Fortunately, his later efforts were more successful, beginning with in 1948 with She Shall Have Murder, the first in what was to become a 12-book series featuring the British husband-and-wife sleuthing team of Jane and Dagobert Brown. Ames produced a Brown book every year until 1959 when he moved to Spain and switched to writing a four-book
series featuring Juan Llorca of the Spanish Civil Guard.
She Shall Have Murder, made into a movie on British television in 1950, introduces Jane Hamish, a pretty young executive in the law firm Daniel Playfair and Son, and Dagobert Brown, Jane's lover and a researcher/writer who is so absorbed in the thriller he and Jane are concocting around the law firm's staff, that he is astonished when the wrong victim dies. Said victim is Mrs. Robjohn, the least favorite client of the firm, thanks to her frequent calls, letters and visits and unwavering paranoid belief that the mysterious "they" are out to get her.
She Shall Have Murder was labeled as "Detection with Wit" when first published in 1948, an apt description of the characters of Jane, always the common-sense, down-to-earth narrator, and her other half Dagobert, whose eccentricities and passing fads often leave Jane alternatively delighted and driven to despair ("Dagobert is my hero, but he persistently refuses to behave like one.") One of Dagobert's primary pursuits is amateur sleuthing that he puts to good use as he resorts to bluffs, disguises, charm and insightful detection in his efforts to prove Mrs. Robjohn was murdered.
Jane makes a delightful narrator, as in this bit about her thoughts on her potential novel-writing career at the start of the story:
"On the other hand, thrillers have nowadays become an accepted art-forom; bishops and minor poets read practically nothing else, and the New Statesman reviews them....The beginning of a book is always the tricky part. It should arrest. A shot should ring out in the night, or if you prefer, a rod should cough or a Roscoe belch forth destruction. Personally, I like to meeet my corpse on page one, and I like him (or her) to be very dead."
In Peter Walker's foreword to the Black Dagger edition of She Shall Have Murder, he notes that the novel is a time capsule of post-World War II life, with utility clothing, conscription, rationing, listening to the wireless, putting lavender in the clothes closet, feeding gas meters with shillings and girls who resemble Rita Hayworth. But the writing sparkles over 60 years later and is far from dated in its ability to entertain.
NOW FOR ALL THE FFB LINKS:
- Sergio Angelini – A Most Wanted Man (2008) by John le Carré
- Mark Baker - Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief (1993) by Dorothy Gilman
- Joe Barone – The Heckler (1960) by Ed McBain
- Les Blatt – The Blind Barber (1934) by John Dickson Carr
- Brian Busy – A Terrible Inheritance (1890) by Grant Allen
- Bill Crider – Baseball Stars of 1960 (1960) edited by Ray Robinson
- Martin Edwards – For Murder Will Speak (1938) by J.J. Connington
- Curt Evans – Night Call (1957-1969, new edition) by Charlotte Armstrong
- Francis M. Evans via Mystery File – A Dark Power (1968) by William Arden
- Elizabeth Foxwell – Crime in Corn Weather (1935) by Mary Meigs Atwater
- Ed Gorman – Cabby (1980) by Leonard Jordan a/k/a Lev Levinson
- Rich Horton – Princess Maritza (1906) by Percy Brebner
- Jerry House - Willie and Joe: The WWII Years (2011) by Bill Mauldin
- Randy Johnson – The Crazy Mixed-Up Corpse (1957) by Michael Avallone
- Nick Jones - The Bookshop (1978) by Penelope Fitzgerald
- George Kelley - Shadows Over Baker Street (2003) edited by Michael Reaves & John Pelan
- Margot Kinberg - Bangkok 8 (2003) by John Burdett
- Rob Kitchin - The Late Greats (2012) by Nick Quantrill
- Evan Lewis - Rebel (1993) by Bernard Cornwell
- Neer - The Hand in the Dark (1920) by Arthur J.Rees
- Juri Nummelin - "The Dancing Death" (1955) by Charles Beckman
- PeggyAnn – Young Mrs. Savage (1949) by D.E. Stevenson
- James Reasoner – Ride Into Yesterday (1992) by Ed Gorman
- Karyn Reeves - Love and Mr. Lewisham (1899) by H.G. Wells
- Gerard Saylor - The Revenant (2002) by Michael Punke
- Ron Scheer – The Lonedale Operator (1911) by D.W. Griffith
- Bill Selnes – Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (2010) by Tom Franklin
- Kerrie Smith – Elephants Can Remember (1972) by Agatha Christie
- Dan Stumpf via Mystery File – Call Me Killer (1953) by Max Carter
- Kevin Tipple - A Werewolf Named Wayne (2011) by Bill Crider
- TomKat – Dead Cold (2007) by Louise Penny
- TracyK – Coffin Scarcely Used (1958) by Colin Watson
- Prashant Trikannad - The Imperfectionists (2010) by Tom Rachman
- Fletcher Vredenburgh – Three Men and a Dog: The Elfin Ship (1982) by James P. Blalock
- Rich Westwood – Vertigo (1954) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
- James Winter - In The Electric Mist With Confederate Dead (1993) by James Lee Burke
- Zybahn - The Sins of the Fathers (1976) by Lawrence Block