Monday, April 21, 2008

A body beneath the azalea

Daisy Dalrymple returns in this second mystery set in 1920s England. Once again she finds herself on a writing assignment at a manor house for Town and Country magazine. This time she's visiting a pal from school, but when she arrives she finds out that as far as Lady Valeria, her friend's overbearing mother, is concerned, Daisy is not a welcome guest. After all, Daisy is an independent woman with a career, despite the fact that she is from the upper classes - how gauche (and threatening to the status quo). Lady Valeria is clearly worried Daisy's independence might give her daughter ideas of her own.

Daisy wants to write the article, take photos and get out of there as quickly as possible. But then, while on a tour of the gardens, she is present when one of the gardeners discovers a body buried beneath a dead azalea bush. When the shy young Welsh gardener is arrested with no evidence at all against him (beyond the fact that he is an outsider, and everyone is so terrified of Lady Valeria - including the police - that they wish to wrap up the unpleasant matter as quickly and expediently as possible).

Daisy just knows the gardener is innocent - and she's furious that the police aren't taking the investigation seriously. So she rings up Alec Fletcher, the Scotland Yard investigator she met in the first book, and begs him to intervene. The romantic tension is evident between the two, but Alec knows that someone of Daisy's status couldn't possibly consider him in a romantic light - or could she? Meanwhile, there is the challenge of a cold trail to follow and an innocent man to exonerate.

This is a delightful, character-driven cozy with a fairly straightforward mystery to solve. As far as I'm concerned, the mystery is simply icing on the cake; the characters and dialog are delightful in and of themselves. I'm so pleased there are many books in this series - I look forward to visiting 1920s England, Daisy and her friends on a regular basis.

Books in the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series:
  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
The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn (Kensington Books reprint edition, 2001)

Other blog reviews:
Rabid Reader
100 Books


  1. How did you know I'm on a mystery kick right now?! I had to interrupt myself for two books that are due back but it was an interruption nonetheless. I've read a few different books reminiscent of this one and the only series I was really impressed with is Brenda Joyce's Deadly series. The first of which is called Deadly Love.

  2. Sounds like my kinda book, historical mystery...just add in some romance and its perfect!

    on a sidenote, do you know which famous English novel has a character with the name Dalyrmple...give you a hint, in that book she is not a major character but is referred to as Lady Dalyrmple and more important characters suck up to her.

  3. Ladytink - I haven't read anything by Brenda Joyce - did you review her books? I'll have to come by and take a look. Which one should I start with? The other one that reminds me a bit of this one is the Maisie Dobbs series, which I really like, too. Probably more than this one, but of course I've read more of those.

    Virginia Gal - I do think you'd enjoy these. I get the feeling that more romance is coming in future books as Daisy and the detective get to know each other better. Lady Dalrymple, eh? Was that Persuasion?

  4. Sounds like a whimsical and fun series!

  5. This sounds wonderful! I love this time period so much. I must read this series.

  6. Heather & Nicola - it is a lot of fun - I especially love the details from the period, and the fun expressions the characters use. It's topping!

  7. I'm going to have to point these out to my wife, she loves mysteries, especially ones set in earlier time periods. Thanks!

  8. I hope she enjoys them, Carl!

  9. I've read a ton of her books but the only one I have a review on is Masquerade. It was good but if I was to recommend a book to start with I would start with the Deadly series. Most of her books are straight romance but these have a mystery in them too.(

  10. Thanks, Ladytink! :-)


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