Books

Death at Wentwater Court – Carola Dunn

This is the first in an ever growing series of books featuring Daisy Dalrymple and I am rather late in finding them. However the premise of a nice cosy mystery set in the 1920s was enough for me to pick this book up.

Daisy Dalrymple is writing a piece for Town and Country magazine and to prove her worth as someone who can make her own living and live independently in the ever changing modern 1920s and not simply wait to be married off and become Mrs somebody with interests only in her husband. Daisy is herself a member of the high society but uses it to her advantage and helps her forge a career.

It is this career that Daisy, notebook, typewriter and camera in hand she finds herself at Wentwater Court. The many characters there making up a house party are intriguing and varied. Lady Annabel the Earl of Wentwater’s second much younger wife, the infamous step children Marjorie, Wilfred, Geoffrey and the eldest James who harbour doubts about her reasons for marrying their father in protection of their own ends.  James fiancée Fenella and her brother Phillip, who has courted Daisy in the past or tried.  And to balance the ‘young set’ the Earl’s sister Lady Josephine and husband Sir Hugh Menton. All interrelated in some way but there was also another guest Lord Stephen Astwick who meets his end by falling through a hole in the ice seemingly having drowned.

All is not quite as it seems with this death, and to try to avoid scandal locally, they call in help from Scotland Yard. Enter Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher who is already in the area investigating a rather large theft of gems from another house party. Daisy and he hit it off, and she proves invaluable in the investigation and can see what she can achieve as an independent young woman.

To start of the series this was a good first book. The plot is somewhat woolly in parts and there was no obvious red herrings as that sometimes can be seen in these mystery books. For me there were far too many characters thrown in to begin with and I could not align who was who and connected to whom. However, once I had overcome this hurdle, the book goes a long at a steady sedate pace and was enjoyable. Daisy is going to make her mark on the detective world and her relationship with Chief Inspector Fletcher will probably raise a few eyebrows. Women in a man’s world in the 1920s especially one from the higher echelons of society is going to make for some interesting reading and I will put the second book on my list – I think Daisy is going to grow on me.

I have rather got a taste at the moment, for cosy mysteries. Having now read this book set in the 1920s. Rhys Bowen ‘Royal’ series set in the 1930s and James Anders0n ‘Burford’ again in and around the 1930s. I feel that these have a slight ‘tongue in cheek’ concept about them, which is why I would not place good old Agatha Christie amongst them. They certainly remind me of P G Wodehouse and certainly this one has that element of wastefulness of time that Bertie Wooster has with the sense somewhere of Jeeves. Why their appeal? Probably because of Agatha Christie and in particular Poirot but also the historical side of them, the bygone age, capturing the past and cleverly weaving in teaching us about history under the guise of a murder mystery. I knew my history degree would be used again, even if it is not for the job that I am doing now!

I am going to have to be wary of not reading these in quick succession as I feel that I will have all the characters and periods of time all in a muddle.