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Oak Park Village series

Book cover for Murder in the Park by Jeanne M. Dams

The first book in my latest series, Murder in the Park, came out in 2022, and the second, Music and Murder, in 2023. That one dealt with the varying attitudes towards jazz and jazz musicians in the Oak Park of 1926. Protagonist Elizabeth Fairchild is surprised to find that she enjoys it very much. Of course her first experience of it was a band featuring Louis Armstrong and Earl "Fatha" Hines; no wonder she was impressed. She isn’t amazed that the Ku Klux Klan hates the Black musicians, but is stunned to learn that her parents' colored servants are also adamantly opposed to the music they view as decadent and almost blasphemous. These opposing viewpoints blow up into a dangerous situation for Elizabeth and fiancé Fred Wilkins, driving them to seek refuge out of town. The third Oak Park book, nearly finished and as yet untitled, concerns the murder of an unfriendly, unpopular woman whose daughter is suspected of the killing. As Fred Wilkins undertakes her defense, Elizabeth works tirelessly to uncover the real murderer.

Dorothy Martin

Meanwhile Dorothy Martin marches on. A Deadly Web was succeeded by Village Politics Can Be Murder, released in June of 2024. This one was the offspring of my most recent trip to England in the late summer of 2022. Among other wonderful experiences, I traveled through England’s famously beautiful Lake District, with the village of Grasmere my focal point. I learned a lot about Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for many years, and about Beatrix Potter, whose time spent on Hilltop Farm nearby led to her gift of thousands of acres to the National Trust, thus assuring the preservation of a large part of this beautiful area. Thank you, Peter Rabbit! I also learned a good deal about the political climate of Grasmere, leading to my invention of a rather nasty politician who plans to stand for Parliament. Murder puts an end to those plans, and of course Dorothy and Alan, who are visiting, end up involved in the hunt for the murderer.

lake district

I’ll soon be starting Book 27 of that series, and so far all I know about it is its setting in the Yorkshire Dales, also explored in '22. My HQ for that part of the trip was The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, a thrill for me as it was the place where Agatha Christie holed up during her famous disappearance in 1926. The Dales are perhaps most famous for being the setting for the books by James Herriot, who really was a vet in the area for 50 years, practicing under his real name of James Alfred Wight. You may be sure that both those notable people will play parts in the new book, which may also venture as far away as the amazing cathedral city of York, my beloved friend for many years.

Two other notes about that 2022 visit to England: I spent several fascinating days on a hotel boat traveling up the Thames. I saw Windsor and Runnymede from the water, as travelers arrived at those places for centuries. I learned how locks are operated and the "rules of the road" that govern them. And one evening as we had taken a break from the boat and were dining in a riverside restaurant, I learned of the death of Elizabeth II. It was an amazing time to be in England. I learned more about her from television in the next few days than in years at home in the States. I learned how truly beloved she was. With friends on the boat, I listened to a Sunday service and sang "God Save the King"—the first time that had been sung for 70 years. I stood at the gates of Buckingham Palace and cried along with everyone else. I count it a rare privilege to have been there at that moment in history.

Other News

After a long, difficult trip home from Chicago one day, I came home tired and cranky to an empty house. I knew then that I needed to get another cat. At a shelter I found a kitty who looked just my first pet from age 4. She was declawed, a definite asset as far as my furniture and new carpet are concerned. I would never do that to a cat, but as a previous owner had, I could take advantage of the fact. And when she started rubbing her head against my hand the moment I approached her I knew. Obviously my cat! Her name is Rosie, she's a beautiful tuxedo cat, and very well behaved. She’s almost 9, a senior cat for a senior person, and the love of my life. My house isn’t empty anymore.

My new cat, Rosie

I like to call my books "cheerful mysteries." For despite all signs to the contrary, I continue to believe the world is a good place and most of her people are trying to do their best. So my books reflect that philosophy and I hope this site does, too.  

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Winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel (1995)

“Fans of the English cozy will put the kettle on, snuggle under a lap rug, and sigh contentedly...” - Kirkus Reviews