By the Book @ Rogers Memorial Library

Fresh as a Daisy

The Winter Garden Mystery, by Carola Dunn features an appealing, young amateur sleuth, named Daisy Dalrymple.  Daisy has wangled an invitation from her old school friend, Roberta (Bobbie), to visit Occles Hall.  Employed by Town and Country magazine, Daisy must write an article about the lovely manor house.  While on a tour of the grounds, the young, Welsh undergardener, Owen Morgan, shows Daisy the Winter Garden.  Filled with color in the middle of winter, a dead bush reveals something amiss.  When Owen removes the bush, he discovers the body of Grace Moss, a parlormaid thought to have run off to London.

Lady Valeria, the forbidding and overbearing lady of the manor, isn’t thrilled to have an emancipated young woman in her home.  She fears the influence that Daisy will have on Bobbie and her very handsome son, Sebastian.  Lady Valeria blames Daisy for the discovery of the body in the Winter Garden.  When Daisy calls in her friend, Detective Inspector Fletcher from Scotland Yard to investigate the murder, Lady Valeria’s wrath cannot be quenched.

Daisy Dalrymple, however, holds her own against Lady Valeria.  With the assistance of the Honorable Phillip Petrie, Daisy’s childhood friend, and the grudging permission of Detective Fletcher, Daisy subtly questions the suspects and uncovers clues.  While Daisy narrowly avoids being evicted from Occles hall by its mistress, she knows that her welcome has run its course.  She pretends to work on her article, while she tries to figure out who would have killed and buried the young woman in the garden.

Family secrets, local feuds and a mysterious commercial traveler, along with a colorful cast of eccentrics, all play a part in this enjoyable cozy mystery.  The author throws in some red herrings to keep readers guessing, until the murderer is finally revealed.  The dialogue also effectively reflects the slang of the time without distracting from the plot.

Fans of the Phryne Fisher mysteries or the Maisie Dobbs series should find a sympathetic heroine in Daisy Dalrymple.


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