Books by Jeanne M. Dams

Jeanne is an Indiana native with degrees from Purdue and Notre Dame, author of seven Dorothy Martin mysteries about an American widow living and sleuthing in England. The first book, The Body in the Transept, was a nominee for the Macavity award and the w


DEATH IN THE GARDEN CITY by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 4, 2020

"Tension runs high until the surprise ending, the depravity tempered by lyrical descriptions of Victoria and environs."
Combining travelogue with mystery, Dams (A Dagger Before Me, 2019, etc.) treats her England-based sleuths to a case in Canada. Read full book review >
A DAGGER BEFORE ME by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2019

"An Anglophile's delight piled high with enchanting details of arcane rituals, all neatly wrapped around a nice little case of murder."
A leisurely journey around England to take in some ancient ceremonies ends in a curious murder investigation. Read full book review >
CRISIS AT THE CATHEDRAL  by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2018

"The slight mystery takes a back seat to a heartfelt exploration of religious animosity and bigotry."
A sleuthing couple fights bigotry. Read full book review >
THE MISSING MASTERPIECE by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

"Dorothy and Alan are a clever pair whose adventures (Smile and Be a Villain, 2016, etc.) always charm even if their mysteries do not."
A sprightly travelogue with intermittent mysterious overtones. Read full book review >
SMILE AND BE A VILLAIN by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 30, 2016

"An anemic cozy filled, as usual, with charming, tourist-friendly information."
A sleuthing duo continues its streak of taking no vacations without a mysterious death. Read full book review >
BLOOD WILL TELL by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Cambridge science takes center stage in this latest cozy in Dams' traveling series (Days of Vengeance, 2014, etc.). It's an average mystery saved, especially for Anglophiles, by an atmospheric look at the famous university."
A visit to Cambridge University is educational in more ways than one. Read full book review >
DAY OF VENGEANCE by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 1, 2014

"Anglophile Dams adds another comfortable cozy to her collection of paeans to all things British."
The Church of England has a major public relations problem when a candidate for bishop is murdered. Read full book review >
SHADOWS OF DEATH by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 1, 2014

"Dams extends her list of pleasant British cozies (Murder at the Castle, 2013, etc.) with another installment marked by her trademark local color and another solid mystery."
Welcome to the Orkney Islands, home to Stone Age excavations and a very modern murderer. Read full book review >
MURDER AT THE CASTLE by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 2013

"Dams, well-known for her classic British cozies (The Corpse of St James's, 2012, etc.), supplements a solid mystery with current and historic details of the Welsh border area."
A music festival in Wales is both moving and deadly. Read full book review >
THE CORPSE OF ST JAMES'S by Jeanne M. Dams
Released: Nov. 1, 2012

"The latest for Dorothy (The Evil That Men Do, 2012, etc.) is one of Dams' better mysteries, packed with the details sure to delight anglophiles."
A trip to Buckingham Palace turns into a nightmare murder investigation. Read full book review >
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO by Jeanne M. Dams
Released: Feb. 1, 2012

"Anglophiles and series fans will forgive the fact that Alan and Dorothy spend a lot more time extolling the beauties of the English countryside than solving the crimes."
A retired Chief Constable and his American spouse are enjoying the beauties of a holiday in the Cotswolds when they stumble upon a body. Read full book review >
A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 1, 2011

"Dams (Winter of Discontent, 2004, etc.) provides several pleasing twists along with an easily spotted killer."
A country-house weekend provides the perfect setting for an Agatha Christie homage. Read full book review >
FOOLPROOF by Barbara D’Amato
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

"An in-flight book you won't mind leaving on the plane, even if you haven't finished it. The three authors, accomplished writing pros all, have done far better on their own than they do in this thrill-free thriller."
Voting and other escapades in a corrupt political system. Read full book review >
CRIMSON SNOW by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

"Basing her tale on an actual case, Dams brings the period alive as the captivating Hilda solves a murder and her own problems too."
Now that Hilda Johansson's spent seven years as a maid for the wealthy Studebaker family, her life is about to change. And murder is just part of the story. Read full book review >
WINTER OF DISCONTENT by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2004

"A so-so puzzle that threatens to drown readers in tea but excels as a primer on aging."
A cozy glimpse of growing old, and the alternative. Read full book review >
SINS OUT OF SCHOOL by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"Fans of the English cozy will put the kettle on, snuggle under a lap rug, and sigh contentedly while Dorothy (To Perish in Penzance, 2001, etc.) chats up village eccentrics, meddles her way from pub to church manse, and resolves matters with Miss Marple flair."
When St. Stephen's schoolteacher Amanda Doyle insists on taking a day off for personal reasons right in the middle of flu season, expatriate American widow Dorothy Martin, a retired schoolmarm now living in the cozy English village of Sherebury with her second husband Alan, is pressed into service. Amanda's return lasts all of one day before the police detain her for questioning. Did she stab her husband to death on her day off, then tidy up the crime scene before notifying the authorities? And did she slip a lethal dose of digitalis into his tea as well? Or is she covering up a crime committed by her nine-year-old daughter Miriam, who loathed her martinet dad, a sanctimonious pillar of the Chapel of the One True God congregation? Donning her detecting hat (velvet with a plump red rose), Dorothy ponders Amanda's Tory politician father, whom she hasn't spoken to in years; her prickly TV scriptwriting sister; and her quickie marriage to cover up her pregnancy. She even ventures among the One True God congregation for clues, from irregularities in church finances to Doyle's whereabouts just before his death. Still around the bend are several train trips to London, where a Botticelli-beautiful solicitor works, a comparison of handwriting on a parliamentary pass and a lover's note, and a serious auto accident sending Amanda, her sister, and her daughter to the hospital. Read full book review >
SILENCE IS GOLDEN by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 2002

"Acute glimpses of anti-Catholicism, upstairs/downstairs class distinctions, wardrobe upkeep, Swedish family dinners, hobo codes of honor, and the romantic touch, circa 1903. Dams's more heavy-handed historical brethren would do well to emulate her light touch."
Turn-of-the-last-century Hilda Johansson, amateur sleuth and curfew-breaking, bend-the-Victorian rules housemaid for the well-to-do Studebaker family in South Bend, Indiana (Green Grow the Victims, 2001, etc.), is as perturbed at the reappearance of her young brother Erik's friend Fritz Schlager as she had been at his disappearance. After running off to join the circus, Fritz has returned shattered from abuse at the hands of the paterfamilias of the trapeze troupe the Stupendous Shaws. Unfortunately, the circus has pulled up stakes and moved on before he can be charged. But when Hilda and her beau Patrick take Erik to another visiting circus, who should they see but the alleged demon himself? Erik runs after him, and that's the last that's seen of Erik. Now Hilda has to explain to her nerve-racked mother that she's lost her baby brother, who may have come to the same fate as yet another young lad killed on the circus grounds. The search party includes Hilda's aspiring admirer Sergeant Wright, but it's Patrick who finds Erik, hears his eyewitness account of murder, and, with the help of the brave youngster and Patrick's own true love, sets a trap that reels in the real culprit. Read full book review >
TO PERISH IN PENZANCE by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 23, 2001

"Dams (Killing Cassidy, 2000, etc.) treats the vagaries of aging with a warm, companionable touch, and she's no slouch at plotting either."
It's England, so of course it's raining, with no end in sight. American-born Dorothy Martin urges her second husband, retired Sherebury Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt, to join her in visiting sunny Cornwall, which just happens to be the site of Alan's first unsolved murder, a case that's niggled at the back of his mind for over 30 years. Who was that unidentified woman found dead in a smuggler's cave, and who killed her? Surprisingly, two guests at their hotel are consumed by the same questions. Cancer-stricken Eleanor Crosby and her adopted daughter, beautiful model Alexis, crave information about Eleanor's former best chum and Lexa's mum, Betty Adams, the woman found in that cave. Then, Lexa winds up dead in the same place as her mother, and sexy, rebellious teenager Pamela Boleigh, a local nabob's granddaughter last seen along with Lexa arguing with an old gent at a raucous nightspot, goes missing. Dorothy and Alan swing into action, scouring the caves, reconnoitering the rave, and chatting up the mayor in his pricey antique store, the disconsolate elder Boleigh, and the local coppers, all of whom venerate Alan and his former high police rank. Several cream teas later, Alan and Dorothy—having solved murders old and new and pieced together a tale of infidelity, illegitimacy, robbery, and more—are headed back to Sherebury, now with raincoats at the ready. Read full book review >
GREEN GROW THE VICTIMS by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 19, 2001

"The author's evocation of the tensions between newly arrived immigrants with different lifestyles, languages, and religions adds a lively element to the mundane plotting. And Hilda continues to charm in her modest way. Unriveting entertainment that's easy to take. "
Third in Dams's series (Death in Lacquer Red, 1999, etc.) featuring Swedish housemaid-sleuth Hilda Johansson, still working, in 1902, for the Studebaker family, headed by Colonel George Studebaker, ensconced in their South Bend mansion. Hilda's Irish friend Patrick Cavanaugh lives in South Bend too, as does his uncle Daniel Malloy, a Democrat running for a local council seat against Republican John Bishop. One day, in the middle of a visit to the local county fair, Patrick and Hilda are interrupted by Malloy's son Clancy, frantic because Bishop has been found beaten to death, evidently by Daniel's shillelagh, and Daniel himself has disappeared. Daniel's dignified wife, aware of Hilda's previous successful forays, sends Colonel George and a pair of pillars of the local Irish community to ask her help (and even offer a small emolument) in finding Daniel. Find him Hilda does, barely alive but claiming innocence in the murder of Bishop. Finding that killer will be a much harder task for the starchy heroine—one that nearly costs her life before it's over. Read full book review >
KILLING CASSIDY by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 7, 2000

"Like its predecessors (The Victim in Victoria Station, 1999, etc.), low-key and leisurely, with charming insights on revisiting one's past, the love life of the less-young, and the furor aroused in Indiana by a Notre Dame football game."
Comfortably settled in Sherebury, England, with her second husband Alan, a retired police inspector, former schoolmarm Dorothy Martin is unsettled at the posthumous request that arrives in the post: Would she return to Hillsburg, Indiana, the letter writer pleads, and find out who killed him? Since the man asking, nonagenarian Kevin Cassidy, was a close friend of her late husband and, like him, a professor at Randolph University, Dorothy, with Alan beside her, is soon flying back to the States, where nothing is exactly as she remembers it. Charming banks have become inglorious parking lots, and former students are all grown up and toiling in the police department, the hospital human resources department, and the county clerk's record room. Even more unsettling, nobody except Dorothy and Alan seems to think Cassidy passed away from anything but pneumonia. Treading circumspectly, they question Cassidy's closest neighbors, disturbed Vietnam vet Jerry and development-picketing pharmacist Hannah, then delve into the backgrounds of a doctor, a scamming preacher, and a close-mouthed lawyer. Jerry dies, the doctor takes it on the lam, and a series of loans Cassidy made to pals in need seems to indicate a motive—all of which leads to a timely suicide. Read full book review >
RED, WHITE, AND BLUE MURDER by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 31, 2000

" Dams' new series hasn't yet found a happy balance between its politics and its puzzle. Its concept is too rich and potentially consequential for the cozy home she wants to give it. And Hilda herself is just a little too sharp not to cut up the cushions. "
Young Swedish housemaid Hilda Johansson's turn-of-the-century South Bend, Indiana, was more like a cozy household disrupted by murder in her first outing (Death in Lacquer Red, 1999). But recent labor rumblings have turned the factory town's streets meaner during a dog day summer a year later, when a well-known contractor is found dead and wrapped in a US flag on the construction site of the new city hall. Because President McKinley's assassin, immigrant anarchist Leon Czolgosz, had recently been in South Bend, police assume the contractor was a target of local political anarchists. Hilda's household peers are shaken both by the arrest of Norah's brother, their co-worker, for the murder and by rumors of unrest at the Studebaker family factory. Only the patriarchal hand of Hilda's beloved employer, Clem Studebaker, could calm the storm, but he's ailing and away from home. So hard-driving Hilda sorts out clues from Red herrings, sorting through her own complicated loyalties to Clem and class as well. While Hilda and her network—the servants working for prominent South Bend families, the web of Swedish siblings and Lutheran churchgoers, her Irish fireman friend Patrick and his police contacts—do the work and take the risks, it takes another city magnate to quell an anti-immigrant mob and sell the solution. Read full book review >
THE VICTIM IN VICTORIA STATION by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 29, 1999

Another episode in the life of one of the genre's most aggressively nosy amateur sleuths—expatriate American widow Dorothy Martin, now living in England's Sherebury village and married to V.I.P. policeman Alan Nesbitt (Malice in Miniature, 1998, etc.) who is presently at a conference in Zimbabwe. On a train to a doctor's appointment in London, Dorothy and a young American across the aisle have an amiable conversation, but as the train arrives, Dorothy finds him unconscious—dead, she thinks. A doctor passenger verifies her diagnosis and promises to notify the authorities as Dorothy rushes, late, to her appointment. As days pass with no mention of the incident, Dorothy, after talking to indifferent police, begins to suspect foul play. The young man had told her his name and spoken of' problems in London at his Multilinks computer company. Dorothy engages the expertise of young friend and computer-whiz Nigel Evans, who helps her get a job as a temp in the Multilinks office. There, she meets office manager Evelyn Forbes and the rather dreary execs and sales staff. Nigel helps her with a few unproductive nighttime forays into files, but it takes another killing and some prodding from the US before the means and motives behind it all are uncovered. Dorothy's chutzpah is less likable—and her adventures less convincing—with each outing. Read full book review >
DEATH IN LACQUER RED by Jeanne M. Dams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 14, 1999

The year is 1900, and, in South Bend, Indiana, pretty young Swedish domestic Hilda Johansson works at the Tippecanoe mansion of the Clem Studebaker family. Next door live retired lawyer Judge Harper, his sour-faced wife, and their overindulged attorney son James. Two married daughters also live nearby. Judge Harper's sister Mary is expected home any day from her missionary work in China, where the Boxer Rebellion is making her work dangerous. But not as dangerous, it seems, as life in South Bend, where it's Hilda's fate to discover Mary Harper's strangled body while strolling in the park with her policeman boyfriend Patrick. Unimpressed by the efforts of the local police and haunted by nightmares, Hilda, with help from housemaid Norah, begins to investigate on her own, evading the eagle eye of Williams the butler. The drowning death of the Harpers's Polish maid Wanda, a few days later, adds urgency to Hilda's task. The police seem to regard Mr. Kee Long, a visitor from China, as their chief suspect, in the face of a solid alibi. Hilda comes to his rescue, eventually uncovering the murder motive and the close- to-home killer. This maiden outing for straight-arrow, gutsy, and highly likable Hilda is sure to please fans of the author's Dorothy Martin series (Malice in Miniature, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
HOLY TERROR IN THE HEBRIDES by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 3, 1997

Sixtyish Dorothy Martin, a widowed American now living in the English village of Sheresbury (Trouble in the Town Hall, 1996, etc.), happily accepts an invitation from friends Tom and Lynn Anderson to spend two weeks on the tiny island of Iona in Scotland. When Tom's illness delays the couple's departure, though, Dorothy makes the journey alone. Discovering that she's left the key to their cottage at home, Dorothy checks into a small hotel run by Hester and Andrew Campbell. A group from Illinois is also staying there—the winners of a contest to find the most community- dedicated members of various Chicago churches, with Rabbi Jake Goldstein subbing for a Quaker winner stricken with appendicitis. Iona is a stop on their tour, and no one seems happy about it—or with one another: Sister Teresa, a feminist nun in mufti; elegant Unitarian Grace Desmond; Hattie Mae Brown, a Baptist choir leader; Lutheran organist Chris Olafson; unctuous, unpopular youth leader Bob Williams; and short-fused garden-designer Janet Douglas, a Presbyterian. A sight-seeing excursion to Fingal's Cave makes a slow-moving Dorothy, arriving after others have left, the only witness when Bob Williams falls to his death from a rocky height. She becomes obsessed with the idea that the fall was murder, not accident, and spends the rest of her stay trying to prove it. Some interesting characters, a graphic description of a humongous storm, and a picture of the island's craggy isolation are well done. But Dorothy's relentless and self-absorbed maunderings, along with a nearly nonexistent plot, bring the third in this series closer to chatty travel guide than mystery. Read full book review >
TROUBLE IN THE TOWN HALL by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

Widow Dorothy Martin, a transplanted American and surely the most aggressive of the current crop of village nosybodies (The Body in the Transept, 1995), lives in the village of Sherebury. She has the requisite cats, a part-time job volunteering at the Cathedral bookstore, and a civilized suitor—Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt. One day, by chance, Dorothy and the Cockney cleaning woman Ada Finch discover a body in a broom closet in the venerable, long disused Town Hall. City Commissioner and land developer Archibald Pettifer was also in the building. Pettifer is a longtime supporter of local business interests and a source of considerable irritation to village preservationists like Barbara Dean. The body is eventually identified as that of one Jack Jenkins, a small-time crook from Sheffield. Pettifer has an alibi provided by builder Herbert Benson, but his fragile wife Clarice, who works with Dorothy in the bookshop, appears devastated by the killing. The police are getting nowhere; Alan is consumed by preparations for an upcoming royal visit to Sherebury, but Dorothy, despite her leaking roof and frustrated efforts to rebuild her house, finds time to cross-examine anyone even marginally involved as she looks for a connection to Sheffield and uncovers an old building scandal. A second killing, the royal reception, and a crucial bit of evidence bring her search to a melodramatic end. The irritation raised by Dorothy's unalloyed chutzpa is partly soothed by Ada Finch's warm, down-to-earth persona. The clumsiness of the plot is unredeemed, but fans of the cozy genre will enjoy the village scene and its stalwart residents. Read full book review >
THE BODY IN THE TRANSEPT by Jeanne M. Dams
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

A newcomer joins the ranks of nosy amateur sleuths in cozy village settings. Middle-aged, recently widowed Dorothy Martin is an American living in the cathedral and university town of Sherebury with, de rigueur, her cat Esmerelda. Depressed on her first Christmas Eve after husband Frank's death, Dorothy seeks comfort in the cathedral service. There, she meets the county's Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt, a widower, but has the misfortune to stumble upon the body of Canon Billings in one of the great cathedral's dark corners. Billings, it develops, was killed elsewhere, then moved. It also appears that the influential, scholarly, but little loved Canon had plenty of enemies. He'd threatened the job of young Nigel Evans, a dirt-poor university student working in the cathedral library, as well as that of Jeremy Sayers, the church's gifted organist and choirmaster, and he may have been about to charge verger Robert Wallingford with theft of church funds. Dorothy wonders whether the Canon's recent trip to Greece and his research at the British Museum have any bearing on his murder. An arson fire, another fatality, and the occasional sighting of a ghostly hooded figure fail to deter Dorothy from her obsessive snooping, despite warnings from a concerned Nesbitt. Dams's heroine's a bit more literate and self-analytical than some of her sister sleuths but no less cat-dedicated. A briskly amiable prose style, nicely evoked scenes of village life, and peerings into the rites and rivalries of the English High Church help make a creditable debut. Read full book review >