The Winter Garden Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple)
by Carola Dunn
Cover Artist: Bradley Clark Studio
Review by Mel Jacob
Minotaur Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250080745
Date: 15 March 2016 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Little does the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple know that she’ll encounter a murder when she accepts an invitation from an old school friend, Bobbie Parslow, to visit Occles Hall. Daisy plans to feature the Hall in an article for Town and Country. However, the discovery the body of a former housemaid places Daisy in mortal danger.
The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn is set in England some years after the end of the First World War. Major changes occurred in all classes, but especially the upper class. Two extremes are the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple and the Lady Valeria Parslow. Daisy, a thoroughly modern miss, earns her living unlike most of her class as a magazine writer. Lady Valeria focuses on old rules and rigid adherence to class distinctions.
Arriving in Occleswich, Daisy is surprised by the trim village. Lady Valeria, Bobbie's mother, restricts what tenets may do with their houses. The one exception is the local mechanic who keeps piles of broken machinery on his property in defiance of Lady Valeria's edits.
When Daisy meets Sebastian, Bobbie's brother she is struck by his open nature and his appearance. A veritable Adonis, he has been kept under his mother's thumb. Secrets abound in Occles Hall and Daisy is curious what they are. She receives a frosty welcome from Lady Valeria.
While taking pictures of Occles Hall's famed Winter Garden, Daisy and the gardener discover a corpse. The dead woman disappeared some months ago, and most thought she had run off to London. However, the autopsy reveals more surprises. The housemaid was several months pregnant.
Speculations about the identities of father and the murderer run rampant. Daisy begins by trying to unravel the complicated relations within the Hall and the Parslow family. She soon learns things are not quite as they seem.
Lady Valeria is increasingly unhappy with Daisy and her efforts to solve the crime. Daisy's friend, Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, only adds to that discomfort. Suspects include the Parslow family and a traveling salesman. Daisy and her friends provide both colorful personalities and aid in solving the murder.
Carola Dunn is a prolific author of mysteries and romances. In addition to the Daisy Dalrymple series, she also has the Cornish Mystery series. Her Regency romances are also popular. Fortunately Minotaur Books is re-issuing the Dalrymple mysteries.