Monday, August 18, 2008

The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn

This is the second in the Daisy Dalyrmple series, the first was Death at Wentwater Court previously reviewed. The author definitely improved in the mystery category, so perhaps the first one was a fluke. Dunn creates charming characters in a charming setting, however, sometimes it seems a little too charming. Even with the murder and the "secrets" one can't help but feel that Daisy's world is a little too perfect. In this adventure, her article on Wentwater Court was a huge success, so Town and Country have decided to indulge the flapper, Daisy, for another article, this one about Occles Hall who she wrangled an invitation from her school chum, Bobbie Parslow. The only one against the visit is the lady of the hall Lady Valeria, aka, Lady Vee. Pretty soon, Daisy is responsible for unearthing another body, this time of the parlor maid, Grace Moss. The only thing upsetting about this murder, is not the death of the girl, but the fact that she was found. Everyone seems pretty relieved the poor girl is dead, of course being a pregnant blackmailer might have had something to do with it. But Grace isn't the only one with a secret. It appears Bobbie and her brother, Bastie, have secrets of their own, but are they willing to kill for it? Sensing the local constable is brushing her off, Daisy arranges her chum, Alec Fletcher, to make some inquiries. Under the obligatory 48-hour deadline, Alec dives in to see what he can uncover. Long story short, Bobbie's and Bastie's secrets are uncovered and the rebel against Mommie Dearest (Bobbie wants to work for a living and Bastie is gay), case gets solved (that actually had a very thought out twist) and our heroes drive off into the sunset.

I think the author may enter the dangerous realm of falling in love with her main character, Daisy Dalrymple. As mentioned earlier, Daisy seems just too perfect. She's got the right perkiness, which never crosses the line of being annoying, and everything she does has a happy ending, except for the murderee and the murderer. Daisy's flaws are limited, except that she's working in a society where she's expected to stay at a manor and live the good life. But the perfection doesn't end there, Daisy's always has the perfect solution for every problem and everything ends like a Disney movie. As much as I love to escape in a book, I don't expect everything to be perfect. I need some flaws in the characters and their actions. If it's too perfect, what's the point of reading because the element of surprise has been taken away from me.

7 comments:

Amanda said...

So how many Daisy (don't you love that name?) Dalrymple (but not that one) books are there in this series (and how many do you plan to read)?

;) Sorry, I couldn't help it.

hamilcar barca said...

Daisy Dalrymple is a "Mary Sue"! one of several literary terms i've become acquainted with by hanging out at Book blogs. my favorite is a "MacGuffin" though.

Christina said...

There are 17 books in the series. I've read two so far. I try the first book in a series and if the author or characters catch my attention, then I'll keep up with the series. I'll test #3 at a later time and that will determine if I keep up with the series.

Christina said...

I hadn't heard the "Mary Sue" as a literary term, can you explain it? I do like the "MacGuffin" term as well.

hamilcar barca said...

A "Mary Sue" is a character that is simply too perfect to be believable. MarySue can be either gender. Two examples often given are Dirk Pitt in Clive Cussler books, and Wesley Crusher in the Star Trek series.

Wikipedia does a much better job of detailing Mary Sues than I can. They can apparently be intentional or unintentional. And there are also "Anti-Mary Sues", and several other variants.

now that i've become aware of devices like Mary Sues and McGuffins, i've started to really notice them in books i read.

Trixie said...

Hi guys - have been a bit behind in my reading, but I'm back now.
Hamilcar, can you clarify? Is a McGuffin the same as a Mary Sue, just male?

Jason Gignac said...

A MacGuffin, most people have heard of if they've heard of it, from the Indiana Jones movie franchise. The Ark, and the Grail were MacGuffins, and it took a long time for the new Indy movie to come out because they couldn't decide waht the MAcGuffin in it should be.