Cover art by Robert Stanley. This is the copy I have. I was lucky enough to find it though not as cheaply as I might have liked. But after all, it was Delano Ames and who knows when I might ever come across it again. (Or so I told myself.)
Yes, ladies and gents, we're touting the one, the only, Delano Ames for the umpteenth time! Step lively, step closer, you don't want to miss any details.
NOBODY WORE BLACK aka DEATH OF A FELLOW TRAVELER (I prefer the second title) by Delano Ames is yet another mystery delight featuring Dagobert Brown, a keenly intellectual chap who still hasn't found a decent job suitable to his talents (not that he's looked very hard) and his very patient and loving wife, Jane. The book begins as usual with husband encouraging wife to write yet another 'thriller' (she's got two under her belt) in an effort to fund the family exchequer.
Dagobert points out that novel writing is a domestic industry and can be done in the home. He will mend his own socks and queue up for Grippeminaud's [their cat] fish on the way to the British Museum where he is doing research - on Mayan Civilization, I believe....
"What we want" he says "is somebody to get killed. We could easily spare some of your friends."
This is true, of course, but hardly to the point. "But I don't like murders!" I say, returning to the Autumn issue of Vogue.
As usual, a trip is the only thing which will apparently remedy their financial woes. (Don't ask.) Anyway, soon the happy couple is off to Cornwall.
That is the main attraction of this particular book by the way: the setting. I love just about anything set in windswept Cornwall. Plus the delicious and unexpected episode halfway through the mystery - oh yes, mystery follows the Browns wherever they go - there's the most luscious afternoon tea that it has ever been my privilege to read about. I could easily read those particular paragraphs over and over. One day I must try and duplicate the meal that a very hungry Jane Brown indulges in. I love when characters in a book actually pause to eat a meal. Happens so infrequently, especially in mysteries and never in thrillers. (Have you ever noticed that?) Don't you sometimes want to shout at the hero STOP AND EAT A MEAL FOR GOODNESS' SAKE! I know I do.
The fact that the particular meal takes place at a run down farm with a slatternly hostess dressed in slovenly clothing makes the excellence of the tea that much more fascinating. No explanation is given. It remains a culinary mystery for all time. The food is so good that Jane is hardly inclined to decipher the mumblings of her hostess which have something to do with the mystery at hand and which, really she should have paid more attention to.
But as usual I'm getting ahead of myself.
A rather unlikable fellow traveler has fallen off a cliff and remains unmourned by all and sundry. Was the fall an accident? A suicide? Murder most foul? What do you think?
Questions that plague: Why is the victim's sister so oddly nervous? Why is her devoted hubby so calm? Come to think of it, explain this marriage please. And oh by the way, why is that beautiful young actress (travelling with her director and filming a few scenes for her latest movie along the way) so obviously unsettled? Why is the voluptuous proprietor of the pub so skittish? Why is her lout of a boyfriend (a local farmer) so jealous? Why is his frowzy mother so talkative? And what about those two obstreperous harlequin Great Danes?
This time out Dagobert faces a definite moral quandary and just when he thinks he's found the way out, turns out, he hasn't.
Another wonderful entry in this charming series which should, I say again, be much, MUCH better known and appreciated.
Since it's Friday, don't forget to check out the other Forgotten (or Overlooked) books list at Patti's blog Pattinase.
Somehow, I have never encountered any Delano Ames books. I really must make more of an effort. Is there one in particular I should try, assuming I have a choice?ReplyDelete
And speaking of Cornwall, have you seen the Britcom/drama "Doc Martin", set in a Cornish fishing village? Not exactly wind-swept, the weather is always perfect, but it is filmed on location and is gorgeous, funny and even moving.
Well, I loved CORPSE DIPLOMATIQUE the best I think. Though I've enjoyed all the ones I've read so far. That's a relatively easy one to get hold of. There's also a series set in Spain which begins with THE MAN IN THE TRICORN HAT. I enjoyed that as well but missed Dagobert and Jane.Delete
I have watched DOC MARTIN now and again, Sergio. I must remember to get back to it. Yes, the setting is wonderful.Delete
Really, Yvette, your reviews like this one are NOT helping my determination to reduce the size of my TBR pile. Looks like I really need to expand my Dagobert reading beyond "Murder Begins at Home." Thanks, I think...ReplyDelete
Oh, the funny thing is, Les, that MURDER BEGINS AT HOME is my least favorite of the bunch. Really, you do have to expand. Delano Ames is a habit worth getting into. Or maybe I should say: Dagobert and Jane. :)Delete
Yvette, I have never seen Delano Ames' books in my part either but I'll keep looking for them, or at least try and get them online. I liked Dagobert's observation that "novel writing is a domestic industry and can be done in the home." If only it were that easy.ReplyDelete
Oh yes, that's one of Dagobert's 'understatements'. These books aren't all that easy to find here. I've been lucky. I hope you come across one or two one of these days. :)Delete
Coincidentally, I read this just a couple of months ago; it was my introduction to Delano Ames. Delightful!ReplyDelete
So glad you liked it, Debbie. So far I've been pleased with all my Delano Ames reading. I wish all his books were easier to find though.Delete
I read and very much enjoyed your review, the book sounds wonderful and the characters delightful. Then I went back and looked at the cover. It just doesn't seem to match what you describe at all. I'd have expected some more pastoral, or at least landscape-y. Or the sort of thing we might see on the Maisy Dobbs books. Or something, (he wound down…). However, - blast it - I'll have to find a copy of CORPSE DIPLOMATIQUE.ReplyDelete
Well, the cover is a bit over the top, Richard. :) But it actually depicts an incident in the book. Believe it or not. CORPSE DIPLOMATIQUE is readily available at Abe Books - at least last time I looked. Free shipping too - most of the time. :)Delete
I will be on the lookout for Delano Ames books. Thanks for peaking my interest and your great writingReplyDelete
Thank you Helen, glad you enjoyed it. Delano Ames is worth looking for. :)Delete
I am glad you keep reminding me to read some books by Delano Ames.ReplyDelete
Well, I hope you get a chance to find and read some. :)Delete
I'm so looking for this book ans others the next time I go to the used bookstores.ReplyDelete
You definitely should, Ryan. You'll love them. :)Delete
Yvette,your review is so interesting, I want to grab a copy immediately. Thanks for a most entertaining post.ReplyDelete
You're very welcome, Neer. Glad you enjoyed it. :) I hope you can find a copy or two of Delano Ames' books one of these days.ReplyDelete
I have got to find some books by Ames - you're a devil Yvette, but I like you :)ReplyDelete
Yes, you definitely do. Ha! :)Delete
Gosh, you've got me intrigued. Thanks for an excellent review.ReplyDelete
You're welcome, Kelly, thanks for dropping by. I hope I've intrigued you enough to try one of Delano Ames' books. He's much too good to be forgotten. :)Delete
Yes there are quite a few meals I would want to avoid replicating from books, but this is definitely one I would want to indulge in. The setting as you rightly say is an important part of the book's strength and the metafictional banter between Dagobert and Jane is brilliant. Also impressed by your copy cover. My copy is of the UK title, with the yellow background and cartoon pictures.ReplyDelete
Yes, for example: I for one do not have Nero Wolfe's fondness for caviar or shad roe or chicken livers. Ugh! But I love reading about his meals anyway. P.S. I had to look up 'metafiction' and lo and behold I understood what you meant. I know you've used that term before but I'd forgotten I meant to check it out. And P.S. I love that yellow cover with the Big Red A and the cartoons. I have that cover on my Pinterest page: A Vintage Mystery. (I'm crazy about all that old cover art.)Delete