Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Silence is Golden – Jeanne M. Dams

I’ve been reading Dams work for several years now. When I worked at the Valparaiso Indiana library, she was a local author from South Bend. We had her to the library to give a talk and I had supper with her.

She has two mystery series that are set in totally different places and eras. The first series she wrote was the Dorothy Martin series. These are set in modern times mostly in England. The second series, Hilda Johansson, is set in South Bend in the early 1900s. Hilda is a maid working in the grand house of the Studebaker family, a real historical family that is famous for designing and building cars. Hilda and her family have come from Sweden to make their fortunes. In the first few books it is just her, her brother and two sisters. In this book, Silence is Golden, they have been able to have their mother and younger siblings come over to live with them.

The rest of the books in this series have been wonderful. Dams has done her research and knows what it would have been like for servants and their “betters” to relate to each other. She also covers the differences between the different immigrants that were coming over to the new world. Hilda is being courted by an Irish Catholic fireman, Patrick Cavanaugh, and this is a conflict for her Protestant family. You get a good feel for how difficult it was when America was still trying to find its footing with all the new people coming into the country. This book is good, but I did get irritated a bit with Dams forcing the mystery to work.

This book focuses on Hilda and her younger brother Eric who has just arrived from Sweden. Their mother is over protected and he is finding his new surroundings difficult to deal with. Hilda is understandably worried about him. A circus comes to town and his acrobatic friend Fritz, a German boy, goes to see it without permission. He disappears and is found later sexually abused and badly hurt. For some reason, Hilda gets it in her head that Eric is going to try and figure out who did it. There isn’t any indication in the book that he would or did try to find anything out. She also worries and frets that Eric will try to run away to the circus. With what happened to his friend, that wasn’t likely!

About half way through the book Dams finally sorts things out and we do see Eric run off because he is unhappy at this job. He jumps on a orphan train that came through South Bend and he was found and sent back hom. He then is hired to work with horses, a job that he takes to right away. When Patrick and Hilda decide to treat him to the circus and they run across people they think might have hurt his friend, Dams does it again! Eric runs after the people, gets lost in the crowd and Patrick spends the night and part of the next day looking for him. (This is after finding a young boy dead by one of the Circus wagons.) I just can’t see Eric running up to do…what…to this man that might have hurt his friend. Eric is young in the story and would not be able to do anything really, but get himself into trouble. Especially since he has his sister and her beau there also!

Anyway, the end of the story is good, though I had pretty well figured out who was kidnapping and abusing the boys. Do read Dams. She usually writes very well and her books are nice cozy mysteries.

You can find more information about Dams here.

Her Bibliography is:
Dorthy Martin

Hilda Johansson
Death in Lacquer Red (1999)
Red, White, and Blue Murder (2000)
Green Grow the Victims (2001)
Silence is Golden (2002)
Crimson Snow (2005)

I'm off target with my reading a bit. I've started reading Virgina Woolf's "The Voyage Out" and I am also reading Barnes' "Arthur and George". I read part of "Gardening with Love" by Elizabeth Lawrence. It was full of latin names for plants and telling of the different plants that she swapped with other in the States. I read the bits about the people's letters she recieved but found the rest a bit difficult to get through, since I'm not into plants like that. Do try it if you are a real gardener!


Anonymous said...

I have read 'Body in the Transept' and have been meaning to read more in the series. Thanks for enlightening me that she also has another good mystery series.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Dawn!

Didn't vist your blog earlier because I was counting on the e-mail service to tell me when you had a new post up, but it didn't, so you might want to check it out!

I've never read a Jeanne M Dams, novel, but her name will go on my list of authors to check out, thanks so much for another great review!

booklogged said...

I put both these series on my list. Love good, cozy mysteries. Thanks for the recommendations.

booklogged said...
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