I always intend to write about the books I read soon after I’ve finished them, whilst the details and my reaction are fresh in my mind. But recently I haven’t managed to do so and now have four books to review. I can deal with one of them quickly because I don’t have much to say about it – Styx and Stones by Carola Dunn. This is the seventh book in the Daisy Dalrymple Mystery series (there are 22 in total so far). I’ve read the first three and have been waiting to find the fourth to read them in order, but gave in when I saw this secondhand copy.
Set in the 1920s this is a cosy mystery that doesn’t tax the brain too much. Daisy’s brother-in-law, Lord John Frobisher, asks her to investigate a series of poison pen letters that many of the local villagers including himself have been receiving. So Daisy and her step-daughter, Belinda, go to stay with her sister and brother-in-law. Lord John is anxious to avoid a scandal, but when a murder is committed the local police have to be informed about the letters. Daisy’s fiancÃ©, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard is concerned about Daisy and Belinda, so he gets involved informally, all the time trying to keep Daisy out of danger. The village is a hotbed of gossip, intrigue and resentment, with plenty of people with possible cause to commit murder. I liked the interaction of the members of the WI, bossed by the vicar’s wife and the way Daisy managed to get each of them to talk to her.
Styx and Stones is a quick and easy read, (although I didn’t guess the identity of the murderer until quite near the end) with the focus on Daisy and Alec’s relationship as well as on the poison pen and murder mysteries.
I’ve now read the first three books in Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series – all borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I wrote about the first book Death at Wentwater Court in this post. It’s a typical country house murder mystery.
I’ve recently read the second and third books, The Winter Garden Mystery, another country house murder mystery and Requiem for a Mezzo. These are quick, light, easy and enjoyable to read, not requiring much brain power to work out who did the murders. They provide an interesting glimpse of life in the 1920s..
Set in 1923 Daisy is visiting Occles Hall in Cheshire, the home of her school friend Bobbie, to write an article for the Town and Country magazine and discovers a corpse buried in the Winter Garden. It’s the body of Grace Moss, the blacksmith’s daughter and parlour maid at the Hall. She had gone missing three months earlier.The under-gardener is arrested. Daisy convinced of his innocence contacts Detective Inspector Alex Fletcher of Scotland Yard and their relationship develops as they set about discovering the murderer.
In this book Daisy and DI Alex Fletcher are at the Albert Hall watching a performance of Verdi’s Requiem in which her neighbour, Bettina Westlea is singing , until she drops dead, apparently from cyanide poisoning. Alex reluctantly lets Daisy help with the investigation into her murder.
Bettina had made many enemies and it surfaces that there are several possible motives and suspects. Daisy has a knack of getting people to talk to her, but I did find this just a little repetitive as Alex tried to stop her involvement. However, this didn’t detract from their continuing relationship.
I first came across Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple books on Geranium Cat‘s blog and on Read Warbler‘s blog a couple of years ago and have been meaning to read them ever since.
Death at Wentwater Court is the first in the series. It’s a quick and easy read, a mix of Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse, set in 1923 at the Earl of Wentwater’s country mansion, Wentwater Court. The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple, keen to be independent and earn her own living, is on her first writing assignment for Town and Country magazine, writing about country houses. It’s Christmas and the family and guests at Wentwater Court are enjoying the snow and in particular skating on the frozen lake.
But all is not well. One of the guests, Lord Stephen Astwick is found dead in the lake and it appears he has had a skating accident. However, Daisy’s photos suggest that the hole in the ice had not occurred naturally – there were signs that someone had cut a hole and not that the ice had simply weakened. Enter Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, who is also investigating a jewel robbery at Lord Flatford’s house nearby.
This is a typical country house murder mystery, with plenty of suspects. Daisy is a likeable, lively character and it looks as though her relationship with Alec could become more personal by the end of the book. An enjoyable book, but not one to overtax the brain. I hope it’s not too long before I read the next one in the series – The Winter Garden Mystery.
Note: Carola Dunn is a prolific author, with 21 books in the Daisy Dalrymple series alone – see Fantastic Fiction for her bibliography.