Saturday, January 19, 2008

Daisy Dalrymple, flapper detective

This first installment in the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series is set in 1920s England. While Daisy is "the Honorable" Daisy Dalrymple, she is not a typical wealthy society girl. Her father and brother both died during the war, and her family no longer possesses the fortune it once had. Daisy does not wish to sit around, doing nothing but look ornamental, as she would if she lived with her mother or other relatives. Instead, she shares a flat with a friend and has taken a job writing articles for Town and Country magazine.

Her first assignment takes her to Wentwater Court, a lovely country estate where Lord Wentwater and his family live. Because of Daisy's social status and the fact that she is acquainted with several members of the Wentwater family, she is welcomed as a guest and an equal. Daisy is excited to visit with old friends and to get to work on her first big writing piece.

It becomes quickly apparent to Daisy that things are not as they should be at Wentwater Court, however. Lord Wentwater has remarried Annabel, a remarkably beautiful young woman, and his children appear less than thrilled with their new stepmother, who is just about the same age they are. The tension is increased by the presence of a guest, Lord Stephen Astwick, whom no one seems to like at all, and who is pressing his clearly unwelcome attentions on Annabel, and for some reason she seems to feel compelled to accept his presence without a fuss. Daisy can't even figure out why Lord Stephen was invited to Wentworth Court in the first place.

No one seems terribly sorry when his body is discovered, drowned in the pond, where he has fallen through the ice. The police are called in as a matter of course, and the death is accepted to be a skating accident - until Daisy notices something odd about the photos she has taken. When she confides in the handsome police detective, the last thing she expects is for suspicion to fall on the members of the Wentwater household, and the better she gets to know them, the more difficult it is to believe that one of them is most definitely guilty of murder.

This is a fairly formulaic English mystery, basically a cozy, but with a bit of police procedural thrown in. However, the characters are interesting, especially the ongoing relationship between Daisy and Phillip, her childhood friend who persists in proposing to her, even though she declines, insisting they'd be a disastrous match - as well as the developing relationship between Daisy and Alec Fletcher, the handsome police inspector. This is a promising beginning to a mystery series, and I plan to read about Daisy Dalrymple's further adventures.

Books in the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series (to date):
  1. Death at Wentwater Court
  2. The Winter Garden Mystery
  3. Requiem for a Mezzo
  4. Murder on the Flying Scotsman
  5. Damsel in Distress
  6. Death in the Water
  7. Styx and Stones
  8. Rattle His Bones
  9. To Davy Jones Below
  10. The Case of the Murdered Muckraker
  11. Mistletoe and Murder
  12. Die Laughing
  13. A Mourning Wedding
  14. Fall of a Philanderer
  15. Gunpowder Plot
  16. The Bloody Tower
Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn (Kensington Books, 1994)

Other blog reviews:
Young Librarian
Annie's Books

8 comments:

  1. I really want to try these some day. I just love flapper stuff!

    Great review!

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  2. This reminds me of a series by Brenda Joyce that is set in the early 1900s where a woman named Francesca Cahill solves crimes. I wouldn't say that they are cozies but they are some of my favorite books. The first one is called Deadly Love.

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  3. Thanks, Nicola - and I think that they will be getting better and better as the series goes on. It's nice to get involved with a series that has so many books in it (instead of having to wait impatiently for the author to write them!).

    Ladytink - I've never heard of that series - it sounds fun. I like historical mysteries. Have you read the Maisie Dobbs series? I love those!

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  4. This sounds like something I would like, what do you think?

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  5. Nope never heard of the Masie Dobbs. You should try the Deadly series! It's wonderful!

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  6. VA Gal - Well, I don't know if it's got all the romance it should if you are to truly appreciate it, but there is certainly the start of something there, which will, I hope, be explored in the next books. It does have the whole historical manor house thing going for it, though. I'd be curious to hear what you think if you read it!

    Ladytink - Oh, I think you'd like Maisie Dobbs. There are four or five books in the series now, but the first one's just called Maisie Dobbs, and they're by Jacqueline Winspear. My library doesn't have the first Deadly book (frown). I'll see if I can interlibrary loan it!

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  7. gumshoe in a cloche hat? ooh! how can i resist?

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  8. What's not to like? :-D

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