Murder Begins at Home (1949) by Delano Ames
Jane and Dagobert Brown arrive in the United States with the aim of visiting his Aunt Clotilda in Detroit. Dagobert seems to think the best way to get there is to buy an old jalopy in New York and head for New Mexico. And, of course, that wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Miranda Ross, a beautiful WAC Dagobert met in World War II, lives on a ranch in Alamogordo, NM. Certainly not. But the Browns don't exactly get a warm welcome when they first all up Miranda from Pa Fergusson's gas station. Miranda seems vague on her memories of Dagobert and just couldn't possibly put them up...but then, suddenly, she changes her mind and invites them to stay for the weekend. It's only Thursday.
So...they wind up with an assortment of other house guests--from Miranda's younger sister Peggy and her beau, Bill McFarlan to her protégé, the successful Dwight Karnak and his wife Sue. Though Miranda's family and friends and hangers-on all sing her praises, it soon becomes apparent that she's not as well-loved as it seems. And when she's found stabbed to death one morning Dagobert turns detective to help Pa Fergusson (Deputy Sheriff as well as gas station owner) solve the crime.
I really enjoy the relationship between Jane and Dagobert. The witty back and forth and the way that Jane absolutely understands her husband. The character of Pa Fergusson was very well-drawn as well. The rest of the cast--especially the "sainted" Miranda? Not so much. And the plot just didn't seem to pick up as quickly as in the Ames books I've read previously (She Shall Have Murder and For Old Crime's Sake). It seemed to drag a bit in the first third of the book. But it did have a nicely done solution and I enjoyed watching Dagobert work everything out and explain it. ★★★
First lines: Dagobert has an aunt named Clotilda who lives in Detroit, so when we disembarked in New York, we bought a secondhand car and drove to New Mexico. "It's more or less on the way," he explained.
Last line: "Because you're going to learn this is a law-abiding country."
Deaths = 3 (one stabbed; one fell from height; one poisoned)