When it comes to my entertainment choices, detective stories aren’t always at the top of my list, although I do enjoy them. But when I do choose something in that genre, I generally gravitate to cozy mysteries.
That’s why I was thrilled to discover The Amory Ames Mystery series. Well, I didn’t actually discover it personally, author and book reviewer extraordinaire Rachel McMillan recommended them to me.
Written by Ashley Weaver, the first book of the series was actually her debut novel. I especially love that Weaver was first a librarian before becoming a published author, because who better to write a book than someone who loves and works with them every day? Her Amory Ames series spans seven full length novels and one novella.
Set in the 1930’s. Amory Ames is the title character and amateur sleuth. She is wealthy, glamourous and has a knack for logical deduction and finding helpful clues. Amory is married to Milo who is handsome, sophisticated and attractive to just about every woman who crosses his path. Together they share an estate in the country, a townhome in London, a taste for quality and refinement as well as a dry sense of humor. Both are also very cool under pressure and comfortable in their role in British high society.
It’s nice to see a woman detective driving the action. Milo does assist her, but does not share Amory’s curiosity and interest in solving crime. Thankfully for Amory she often finds herself in the middle of suspicious goings-on. And since Amory and Milo are a bit of a jet-setting couple, the reader gets to witness her crime-solving skills in a variety of exciting places and settings, like a British beach resort, a friends’ country estate, Paris, the West End, New York and even their own home in the country.
Each mystery contained within the pages of Weaver’s books is unique and kept me guessing, though the real over-arching mystery for me was Milo. He may be one of the most opaque characters I’ve ever read. When the series begins, Amory and Milo’s marriage is on the rocks, mostly thanks to Milo’s habit of getting his photograph in the paper with other women and Amory’s uncertainty of his feelings.
Since each book is written from Amory’s perspective, the reader has a clear understanding of her thoughts and feelings toward her husband. We know that she loves him, but she isn’t confident he loves her, though he claims to. This leaves both Amory and the reader searching for clues in his behavior to determine if he’s telling the truth and how deep those feelings go. Personally, I think this is a unique and genius tactic for a writer to take. It’s certainly one that kept drawing me back to each new release in the series. Many books don’t feature married couples, much less make their marriage one of the most intriguing aspects of the series.
In many ways the Amory Ames series reminds me of a cross between Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man film series and the quaint mystery series that have become popular on British television in recent years like Father Brown, Grantchester and Miss Marple. Though their personalities and marital interactions differ from Nick and Nora, Milo and Amory live a similar life style, comfortable with wealth, stylishly dressed (seriously I love that the author takes care to describe Amory’s wardrobe choices), able to easily interact with a variety of people. And despite the fact that the Ames pre-date many of the popular television characters I mentioned, this series also boasts the same pleasant British “feel” often found in these historical time frames.
For some reason, this series still seems to be flying under the radar, which is such a shame. Though Ashley Weaver has started a new series set several years later in WWII London (Electra McDonnell series), the characters of Milo and Amory are ones who will remain special to me. And I want everyone else to love them as much as I do.
This is my contribution to Rachel’s week-long celebration of all things detective related on her blog Hamlette’s Soliloquy. Please don’t forget to check out other entries this week.