Saturday, June 14, 2008

Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn introduces Daisy Dalrymple starting her career as a writer and amateur sleuth (watch out J. B. Fletcher). It's the 20s and Daisy is an independent woman, refusing to live at home or get married to the first Tom, Dick, or Harry who asks. She takes a job as a writer and proposes to Town and Country to write about these sprawling mansions because she can get into them through her connection, her father was a count and she knew plenty of the well-to-do growing up. All seems to be going well. It's right after the new year, everyone's skating and having a grand old time. Everything would be picture perfect, except for the despicable Lord Stephen Astwick, but don't worry, he'll die soon enough. The poor Wentworth's are the new line of crime victims under the watchful eye of Daisy Dalrymple. At first, it appears to be a skating accident, but Daisy senses something wrong. The Chief Inspector Detective Alec Fletcher takes Daisy into his confidence and employment as a note taker, more than he should, and she quickly decides she can help solve the case. But as it turns out, Lord Stephen didn't die in the pond, his lungs were full of bath water. Daisy digs a little deeper and uncovers the truth.

What troubled me about this mystery was when Daisy solved the crime and how she handled it. I could believe the explanation to a certain point, but I felt there could have been more. My fascination with forensics told me there should be more, but there wasn't. Lord Stephen drowned, that's simple enough, but then he drowned in a bath tub not in the lake. No question about it being murder now. When the killer is eventually found it, I didn't find the explanation plausible. He had been knocked out and drowned himself. I know it's not true, he would've had to been hit pretty hard in order to do that and he was hit enough to knock him off balance and daze him and if he had been knocked out the water would have brought him back to consciousness. I kept hoping someone else had finished him off and the real killer would be revealed. Evidently, Dunn thought this was enough and left it that way. Also, I was a little disappointed with Daisy. When the killer was discovered, rather than turn the person over to the police (and the death was considered justifiable/accident), Daisy concocts a plan to get the person out of the country (the beauty of being rich and privileged). This disappoints Detective Fletcher as well, but not enough to stop him from asking her out, and he smartly informs her law. Of course, being rich and privileged allows the person to skate free and Lord Stephen's death is ruled as a skating accident. I wonder if things like that really happened in the English countryside. I'll still give the series a chance (I'm such a romantic) and see if the author improves over time.

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