Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Murder Begins at Home: Delano Ames

Another satisfying, humorous, and intriguing mystery featuring Jane and Dagobert Brown, a crime-solving couple. In this 2nd book in the series, the couple is in the US, going to visit Dagobert's aunt who lives in Detroit, but they end up traveling through New Mexico instead. During his time in the military in World War II, Dagobert met Miranda Ross, and Jane and Dagobert drop by to visit at the luxurious ranch house owned by Miranda and her husband. There are several house guests, the situation is very strange and not entirely welcoming, and soon someone at the house has been killed. The couple have to halt their travels until the mystery is solved.

Before the Browns get to Miranda's ranch they stop at Pa Fergusson's combo filling station, eatery, and store. This a a description of Pa's daughter-in-law, Yolanda. Jane, the narrator, is writing a book about the mystery.
While I was noting these details, Dagobert was addressing the girl who stood with hands on hips behind the Coca-Cola cooler. She was appraising us coolly — or rather she was appraising Dagobert coolly — with wide dark eyes. She wore cheap earrings, which dangled as she put her head on one side, a vivid scarlet blouse, and a tight-fitting black-silk skirt. She wore no stockings, and her shoes, a size too big for her, were run over at the heels.
Dagobert, glancing through this description, says that I have somehow missed the essential Yolanda. He says I've forgotten her voluptuous yet satirical mouth, her white teeth, the sheen of her black hair which fell in waves down to straight slim shoulders, the clear olive complexion, the proud swell of her bosom. These are his phrases, and I record them just to give the masculine viewpoint. There was, I admit, something about Yolanda.
We get to see Pa Fergusson quite a bit more in this story, because he is also a deputy sheriff and in charge of investigating the murder at the ranch.


Jane and Dagobert are both such good characters, strange, weird, and adventurous. One of the things I like about this series is that they are intellectual equals; Jane's part is not secondary to Dagobert's. Some reviewers have compared this couple to Nick and Nora Charles. Jane and Dagobert do tend to talk about drinking a lot, although I don't remember them doing so much of it. And their repartee is clever and risqué at times.

The secondary characters at the ranch are a different matter; they all seem to be strange and not so wonderful characters, in different ways, and they all seem to be focused on Miranda. At first most of them are unappealing but throughout the book the reader can see that first impressions may be deceiving.

These books are humorous and not quite realistic but in the midst of all the shenanigans there is a serious mystery. I have to admit it, this book is not nearly as much fun as She Shall Have Murder, the first book in the series. I don't know if it is the setting (London law office vs. New Mexico ranch), or the characters. But still, I enjoyed the story. I have read reviews of some of the other books in this series and it seems the couple travel a lot. I look forward to more adventures in exotic places.

My copy was generously sent to me by Moira at Clothes in Books since she knows I love book covers with skulls; note the tiny skulls in the flowers on the book cover. Also see Moira's review of this book.


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Publisher:   Rue Morgue Press, 2009 (orig. pub. 1949)
Length:      191 pages
Format:      Trade Paperback
Series:       Jane and Dagobert Brown series  #2
Setting:      New Mexico
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      A gift.


20 comments:

  1. Going to Detroit and end up in New Mexico? That's a long way between. LOL

    The cover suggests the White Sands. Do you know where the ranch is located in New Mexico? Just curious.

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    1. I know, just a little detour between New York and Detroit, Kay. I think Dagobert is trying to avoid a job or something like that.

      I think you are right about White Sands. The ranch is in or near Alamogordo. But I know little about that area.

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  2. I'm very glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy. And those skulls are great. You've reminded me, too, that I must do a spotlight on one of these novels. I appreciate the nudge.

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    1. I know, it is a lovely cover, Margot. I think it would be great if you spotlighted one of the Jane and Dagobert novels.

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  3. I think the skulls are macabre - and very creepy. But I'm so glad to see you feature a Jane and Dagobert Brown book. They are such a quirky couple!

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    1. I agree, they are quirky, Debbie. I read some of these years ago and remembered liking them, but don't remember the plots at all. So it is fun to read them now.

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  4. I love this series but find it difficult to get a hold of the books. I love the humour.

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    1. I have read that the books are hard to get hold of, Katrina, but I have not tried recently. I have 3 others in the series, although one of them is the very last book in the series. But I will keep an eye out for the rest of them, just in case.

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  5. Love books with humor starting with the title --Keishon

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    1. I went through a stage of not liking mysteries with humor as a large component, Keishon. But I guess, like everything else, it depends on how well the author does it. And the title is a good one.

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  6. Haven't read this one yet, Tracy. But I ADORE Jane and Dagobert. I've read several others in the series and wow, I wish Ames had written many MANY more. I love how Dagobert defies convention by hardly working, he's so funny in his resistance to work. I love how Jane indulges him. Yes, they do travel a lot. My favorite book in the series (of those I've read) is CORPSE DIPLOMATIQUE. Have you read that one yet?

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    1. Yes, I do love Dagobert's resistance to work, Yvette. Very unusual in this type of novel. I think I read a lot of the Jane and Dagobert series when I was pretty young, but can't remember which ones. Within memory, I have not read Corpse Diplomatique, but I do have a copy and I hope to read it soon.

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  7. I love the Delano Ames books featuring Jane and Dagobert, and I'm very glad to see them being reprinted. I found them usually in libraries and secondhand bookshops. Now I'm inspired to reread them.

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    1. When I read these books when I younger, Susan, I must have gotten them from the library. More recently I have acquired them from used book stores and book sales. I do like the Rue Morgue editions because they often provide information about the author and the series. I am enjoying reading them again, especially since I don't remember much about the ones I read.

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  8. "Something about Yolanda" indeed. Fortunately I have not struck out on this one, Tracy, as I recall an earlier review you did about this couple. I might even have downloaded a Kindle version of one from the series, but am not certain. I'll check my Kindle library. "Something about Yolanda" hmmmmmmm. Surprised Jane didn't do some hisssing at that point.

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    1. I liked that quote, Mathew. It illustrates the author's gift of showing us a lot about the characters in a few words. It always amazes me when a male writer can write from a female viewpoint.

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  9. I think I'm more than happy to stick with the one book I've read from this series.

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    1. It is good that you did sample the series, Col. I hope to get to the one you read soonish.

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  10. Glad you liked it - I always enjoy Jane and Dagobert.
    Do you know, when I saw your post I thought 'Oh I sent Tracy that' and then I saw the picture and thought 'That must be a different cover then' - because I knew it must have had skulls/skeletons on, and I couldn't see them at first! A subtle picture indeed...

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    1. I am grateful that you sent me this one, Moira, not only for the skulls but because I had never run into a copy and I might have missed it. It is not as good as the first one, but I liked the setting especially, and I liked how the characters seemed one way at the beginning and then more is revealed.

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