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She Shall Have Murder

She Shall Have Murder - Delano Ames, Tom Schantz, Enid Schantz SHE SHALL HAVE MURDER, made into a movie on British television in 1950, introduces Jane Hamish, a pretty young executive in the law firm Daniel Playfair and Son, and Dagobert Brown, Jane's lover and a researcher/writer who is so absorbed in the thriller he and Jane are concocting around the law firm's staff, that he is astonished when the wrong victim dies. Said victim is Mrs. Robjohn, the least favorite client of the firm, thanks to her frequent calls, letters and visits and unwavering paranoid belief that the mysterious "they" are out to get her.

SHE SHALL HAVE MURDER was labeled as "Detection with Wit" when first published in 1948, an apt description of the characters of Jane, always the common-sense, down-to-earth narrator, and her other half Dagobert, whose eccentricities and passing fads often leave Jane alternatively delighted and driven to despair ("Dagobert is my hero, but he persistently refuses to behave like one.") One of Dagobert's primary pursuits is amateur sleuthing that he puts to good use as he resorts to disguises, charm and insightful detection as he tries to prove Mrs. Robjohn was murdered.

Jane makes a delightful narrator, as in this bit about her thoughts on her potential novel-writing career at the start of the story: "On the other hand, thrillers have nowadays become an accepted art-form; bishops and minor poets read practically nothing else, and the New Statesman reviews them....The beginning of a book is always the tricky part. It should arrest. A shot should ring out in the night, or if you prefer, a rod should cough or a Roscoe belch forth destruction. Personally, I like to meet my corpse on page one, and I like him (or her) to be very dead."

In Peter Walker's foreword to the Black Dagger edition of SHE SHALL HAVE MURDER, he notes that the novel is a time capsule of post-World War II life, with utility clothing, conscription, rationing, listening to the wireless, putting lavender in the clothes closet, feeding gas meters with shillings and girls who resemble Rita Hayworth. But the writing sparkles over 60 years later and is far from dated in its ability to entertain.