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I received this book as a gift from someone who had a strong passion for murder mysteries such as Agatha Christie and he said that it's not as complicated story but has lots of thrills and excitement with unexpected twists.
It's the main character, Daisy Dalrymple, on the front cover, wrapped up for winter, ice skating on the frozen lake where her first mystery starts. The colours are not dull but feel cool and vintage to give it the Winter 1920s scene to it, which I believe that fits perfectly with the story.
Daisy Dalrymple arrives at Wentwater Court to write an article for Town and Country. She has chosen to take her own photographs to fit her article perfectly like a jigsaw. Everything goes smoothly during her first day since arriving at Wentwater. Until the next morning she goes skating with James and Fenella and they find the least favourite guest at Wentwater, Lord Stephan Ashwick, under the ice. After raising the alarm and taking a few photographs reveals that the victim di not fall through the ice by skating at dawn, it's been suggested it was an axe cut, which leads the suspicion to a murder... But the question is , who did it? Daisy teams up with Scotland Yard to solve the mystery on who did it and with a lot of haters, and everyone is on the list. Lord Stephan's death is not an easy case to solve, especially when there are unexpected twists and unpredictable surprises rising to complicate things more than needed.
---Where to buy---
This book was a gift but I know a few discounted book stores sell it on the 3 for £5 offer. If you can't find it in the offers you can always buy it at the RRP at £6.99 (which I believe is a reasonable price) from WH Smiths and Waterstones.
Having recently spent a week in sunny Spain I took away half a dozen books with me hoping to get lots of reading done by the pool whilst working on my tan. In reality I didn't even manage to finish two books during the holiday as we ended up meeting so many lovely people and spent more time chatting with them than being able to fully concentrate on a novel.
Death at Wentwater Court was one of the books I started whilst on holiday and continued on the flight home, finishing once I got home. I had read a Carola Dunn book before with the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple in the main role and had enjoyed it enough to pick up Death at Wentwater Court at a local charity shop for £1 not long ago. I hadn't realised that Death at Wentwater Court was actually the first in the Daisy Dalrymple series and I had to remember to put certain knowledge about the character from the latter book out of my mind.
25 year old Honourable Daisy Dalrymple is making a living for herself as a series writer for the respected Town and Country magazine and as such is invited to Wentwater Court to write an article about the old property in early January of 1923. Luckily for her she is acquainted with the Earl of Wentwater's eldest son James, daughter Marjorie and sister Lady Josephine, which helped her get her foot in the door to write the article. Daisy arrives at Wentwater Court claiming her photographer is unwell so she will have to take all the photos herself. When one of the members of the party is found drowned under the ice it seems to have been an accident whilst they were out skating but Daisy suspects foul play and it's not long before Scotland Yard is called in and Daisy's helping with their enquiries having taken photos at the scene when the body was discovered. With so many suspects available, how can they possibly find out what actually happened?
I found myself engrossed in the book from quite early on. We see how Daisy is years ahead of her time, wanting to be independent even though she's titled and happy to make a career for herself even if it means putting up with the disdain of others. She is a likeable character from the start with no real character flaws that one could speak of.
Daisy knows she was only able to get into Wentwater Court for her story because she is acquainted with several members of the household but does not take any further advantage of that fact. Also present are Daisy's late brother's best friend, the bumbling Philip Petrie with his sister, Fenella, who is engaged to James and Lord Stephen Astwick who's a real cad and seems to have some sort of past relationship with Lord Wentwater's beautiful new wife Annabel who is only a few years older than her oldest stepson. Put into the mix James and Marjorie's younger brothers Wilfred and Geoffrey along with Lady Josephine's husband and we have an abundance of suspects. It was easy to guess from quite early on who was going to be killed off and when it does happen one doesn't really feel sorry for the character as it's written in such a way that one feels that they had it coming.
Dunn has written the story so the deductions made by Daisy seem quite likely as well as those made by Chief Inspector Alex Fletcher (who incidentallybecomes a recurring character in future books in the series) and they are made quite logically. The relationships between the main characters are not gone into in any great depth but covered well enough to make the story flow naturally.
Dunn is descriptive enough during the book about Wentwater Court that you can picture the stately home as well as the clothing of the characters and mannerisms but not overly descriptive that she detracts from the actual story. One can almost feel transported back to the 1920s in the book and it was such an engrossing read that I was rather sad when I got to the end of the book. It was also a surprise for me when the book ended at page 247 as the last page is actually page 266 - from page 251 onwards is a preview of the next book in the series - The Winter Garden Mystery (which I'm now in the process of ordering)!
Having thoroughly enjoyed Death at Wentwater Court and the other Daisy Dalrymple mystery I've read I will certainly be looking up more books in the series and am happy to rate this book with 5 stars.
Publishers Weekly said of Death at Wentwater Court: "Appropriate historical detail and witty dialogue are the finishing touches of this engaging 1920s period piece."
I'll leave you with the dedication at the front of the book which pretty much sums up much of the atmosphere of the book for me "To Mum, who remembers Liberty bodices and woolly combies."
A BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carola Dunn was born in 1946 in the UK and started out by writing historical romances then moved onto crime fiction. As well as the Daisy Dalrymple series Dunn has written a couple of books set in Cornwall in the 1960s. Dunn now lives in Oregon, USA.
Title: Death at Wentwater Court
Author: Carola Dunn
Publishers: Constable & Robinson Ltd (www.constablerobinson.com)
First published: 1994
Cover price (on my 2009 edition): £6.99
OTHER BOOKS IN THE DAISY DALRYMPLE SERIES
Death at Wentwater Court (1994)
The Winter Garden Mystery (1995)
Requiem for a Mezzo (1996)
Murder on The Flying Scotsman (1997)
Damsel in Distress (1997)
Dead in The Water (1999)
Styx and Stones (1999)
Rattle his Bones (2000)
To Davy Jones Below (2001)
The Case of the Murdered Muckraker (2002)
Mistletoe and Murder (2002)
Die Laughing (2003)
A Mourning Wedding (2004)
Fall of a Philanderer (2005)
Gunpowder Plot (2006)
The Bloody Tower (2007)
Black Ship (2008)
Sheer Folly (2009)
Anthem for Doomed Youth (2011)
This is the first of the Daisy Dalrymple Mystery series by Carola Dunn.
The novel is set in the 1920s and Daisy is one of a new breed of young women trying to make their own way in the world. Daisy is, in fact, an 'Honourable' - the daughter of a viscount. Unfortunately, her elder brother Gervaise was killed on active service during World War I and as her father is dead, the estate has passed to Daisy's cousin as girls didn't inherit estates at this time. As the novel progresses we find out that Daisy also has a strained relationship with her mother, the dowager vicountess - who thinks Daisy should either marry and settle down or live a life appropriate to her heritage. It also turns out that Daisy's fiancé was killed in the trenches whilst driving an ambulance. He was a conscientious objector, which many people disapproved of - it was seen as unpatriotic and unmanly not to want to fight for your country.
As the novel begins, we find Daisy on her way to Wentwater Court, where she is to photograph and write an article about the country manor for 'Town & Country' magazine, a sort of Country Living meets Harpers & Queen type publication. This is Daisy's first assignment and understandably, she's anxious not to make a mess of it.
Daisy spends a few days getting to know the manor and enjoying the company of the other guests. These include the Honourable Phillip Petrie, a contemporary of Daisy's elder brother, who has a long held wish to marry Daisy, despite the fact that she has repeatedly told him she's not interested in him. Another of the guests is Lord Stephen Astwick, who has a reputation as a terrible cad, or ladies man.
One morning, Lord Stephen is missed at breakfast and is later discovered face down in the lake. At first, it's thought that he'd simply drowned after falling through a thin patch of ice while skating on the lake. However, Daisy takes some photographs of the scene and when developing them notices axe marks in the ice - it looks as though foul play is involved!
Enter Inspector Alex Fletcher, all the way from London's Scotland Yard. Fletcher sets to investigating the death, with Daisy becoming heavily involved in the investigation. Fletcher tells her to keep out of it several times, but Daisy can't help being drawn in as the other guests seem to want to confide in her and Daisy feels honour-bound to share her discoveries with the Inspector.
As the story progresses, the mystery twists and turns until we discover the final outcome - which isn't necessarily what you might think!