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Golden Age frolic
on 4 October 2011
Short of something to read in the genre I love (cosy whodunnits by female authors, preferably set in the Golden Age of murder mysteries), I tried the first of the Daisy Dalrymple books. Unengaging, I thought, trivial, a bit silly,what do I care who dunnit and who didn't? Still, I ploughed on, since I could get the books for a penny each plus postage on Amazon and at least I could read them at bedtime and be very effectively sent to sleep! Then I came to this one and suddenly, I was involved and started to care about what happened to Daisy and her beau, Alec the gorgeous detective. The stories work well on a fun level. All serial whodunnits are pretty unbelievable, if only because any real heroine who repeatedly encountered dead bodies would have had a nervous breakdown coupled with a major persecution complex. The ability to suspend disbelief is particularly vital for fans of this genre. Still, good books of this kind can still tell interesting and perhaps important truths about human nature and experience, feeding the hunger for understanding of the world we inhabit - well, my hunger for it, anyway. The only thing this series helps me understand is how to construct an entertaining and well-structured romp when you haven't got much depth of content. That's a worthwhile lesson, I suppose, if you like writing.
Daisy is travelling to Scotland and finds that Alec's daughter has run away because she is not allowed to play with her Indian school friend. This introduces the theme of discrimination in 1920s Britain, linked with both class and race. An elderly gent is murdered while travelling to Scotland accompanied by his family, most of whom hope to inherit from him. The chief suspect is the main beneficiary, a young Indian doctor. Alec boards the train to investigate the crime and we see how he relates to his young daughter and how deeply he feels for Daisy while the plot progresses at a brisk pace to an entertaining denouement. It is well-done and, for once, my mind didn't wander and I genuinely wanted to read the next book to find out what happened to Daisy, Alec and Belinda. I conclude that either, if you bludgeon your brains for long enough, you start to enjoy the experience, or Carola Dunn is getting into her stride and the books are moving from OK to good.