The Daisy Dalrymple mystery series by Carola Dunn has been a favorite of mine ever since I was introduced to it because of the re-release of Death at Wentwater Court. So when offered the chance to read the newest release, Superfluous Women, I jumped at it.
The latest entry picks up at least a few months after the previous book, with Daisy Fletcher recovering from a nasty cold/flu that left her weak and still struggling for breath at times. To escape the oppressive London air, Daisy goes to Beaconsfield to enjoy the crisp, clean air. She also takes the opportunity to meet up with an old school mate who has settled in Beaconsfield along with two other single women. The three housemates are part of the “superfluous women” who now populate Britain, with few chances of marriage and family due to the massive losses of British men during the Great War. Daisy and her husband join the women for a Sunday lunch, and Alec is asked to pick the lock to their basement, for which they have no key. Upon entering, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher discovers a moldering body and Daisy is soon ensconced in proving her friends’ innocence. But if Daisy isn’t careful, she might be the next body in the basement.
Daisy Dalrymple is one of my favorite mystery heroines due to her optimistic outlook and belief in people’s goodness. I also enjoy the author’s ability to bring 1920s England alive, and the way she peppers her books with wonderfully descriptive fashions, architecture and locales. By reading the series from the very beginning, I’ve really enjoyed watching the characters grow and develop, and look forward to seeing the new paths they take. As Carola Dunn's books usually do, I felt like I needed a cuppa of tea and a biscuit to nibble on while reading this cozy mystery.
In England in the late 1920s, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, on a convalescent trip to the countryside, goes to visit three old school friends in the area. The three, all unmarried, have recently bought a house together. They are a part of the generation of "superfluous women"--brought up expecting marriage and a family, but left without any prospects after more than 700,000 British men were killed in the Great War.
Daisy and her husband Alec--Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, of Scotland Yard --go for a Sunday lunch with Daisy's friends, where one of the women mentions a wine cellar below their house, which remains curiously locked, no key to be found. Alec offers to pick the lock, but when he opens the door, what greets them is not a cache of wine, but the stench of a long-dead body.
And with that, what was a pleasant Sunday lunch has taken an unexpected turn. Now Daisy's three friends are the most obvious suspects in a murder and her husband Alec is a witness, so he can't officially take over the investigation. So before the local detective, Superintendent Underwood, can officially bring charges against her friends, Daisy is determined to use all her resources (Alec) and skills to solve the mystery behind this perplexing locked-room crime.