🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
It’s 1923, and the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple, daughter of a viscount, has broken with tradition by getting a job. Hired by an up-market magazine to write articles on stately homes, her aristocratic background is useful in allowing her to mingle on an equal footing with the owners and their families. So as the book begins, Daisy is on her way to stay at Wentwater Court, home of the Earl of Wentwater.
Daisy is not the only guest and she soon finds that the house is filled with tensions and misunderstandings. The Earl’s new young wife Annabel seems isolated and unhappy and is being pursued by another guest, the obviously wicked Lord Stephen Astwick. The Earls’ three grown-up children from his previous marriage are also visiting – James, showing every sign of resenting his new stepmother and hinting that she is returning Lord Stephen’s affections; Marjorie, who fancies herself in love with Lord Stephen and is wildly jealous of Annabel; and Geoffrey, his outwardly quiet manner hiding the fact that he has fallen in love with the wrong woman. Add in an old admirer of Daisy’s, and the house party is hardly set to be a great success. But when Lord Stephen falls to his death through the ice on the frozen lake at first everyone assumes it’s an accident…until Daisy’s photographs reveal that a human hand may have been at work…
This is a highly entertaining mystery with all the hallmarks of a ‘cosy’ – the deeply unlikeable victim who ‘deserves’ all he gets, a rural location with a limited cast of suspects, an amateur detective. All it needs is a nice romance – enter the delicious Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of the CID! Will he be the man who can help Daisy to get over the loss of her fiancé in the war? Within hours, Alec and Daisy have developed a mutual trust and understanding that sees them begin to work together as a team to solve the mystery of Lord Stephen’s death.
OK, the plot is a bit silly really, with the various misunderstandings being not unlike a Wodehouse plot on a particularly busy day. One quick conversation between Annabel and the Earl could have resolved everything long before murder was ever required, and the ending requires the reader not just to suspend disbelief but to strangle it. But then the book is very convincingly emulating the style of the Golden Age, and the same could be said of many of them. Both Daisy and Alec are attractive characters and their budding romance looks like it will be an enjoyable one. The book is well written, with plenty of humour but with enough weight to the plot to make it interesting as well as enjoyable. Altogether this is a fun read and I look forward to reading some of the others in the series – I believe there are more than twenty of them so far.