The Corpse at the Crystal Palace by Carola Dunn – Daisy D strikes again in London of 1928!

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The title reveals something of this cosy crime book, one of a series set in the interwar period, featuring the wonderfully named Daisy Dalrymple. Now Mrs Fletcher, unofficial sleuth, writer of articles and mother of twins, runs true to form in accidentally finding a recently dead body in the historic ladies conveniences in Crystal Palace, London, at the time a shabby but still immense attraction in London. Dealing with Nannies (plural) several children, good friends and eccentric characters all over London, helping to crack the case despite her husband’s misgivings, and discovering memorable characters en route make this an enjoyable, sometimes funny and clever read. There is enough information to enjoy this novel even if you have not read its twenty two predecessors, but you could become addicted to the undoubted charms of this series. Daisy is a great character, and while her husband tries to dissuade her from actual danger, her aristocratic connections and her quick thinking are often necessary to get her and her associates out of some tricky situations. As each character is carefully and consistently introduced, familiar landmarks of London visited and the pace maintained, this is a not always serious tale of well plotted murder and mayhem in London, 1928.


As the book opens, Daisy is visiting her long term friend Lucy who is in a delicate condition, but still as forthright as ever. This is a world of servants with dedication, and nannies of terrifying aspect, which is why the sight of several nannies behaving oddly during a planned visit to Crystal Palace attracts the attention of Belinda, Daisy’s stepdaughter and two boys who Daisy is temporarily in charge of, and sends them scurrying around in pursuit. A body turns up and another nanny is found in a desperate state, leaving Daisy, her friend Sakari and a retired policeman, Tom Tring, to secure the site and make sure all the children are safely returned home. When Alec eventually becomes involved and Scotland Yard swings into action, there are many leads to follow as the career of a deeply unlikable character is revealed. As usual, Daisy accidentally on purpose finds the pieces of information that Alec needs as he tries to find the murderer among a mass of multiple motives, and there is the usual quota of high speed journeys and last minute discoveries.


This is an assured novel with much to interest the reader with an interest in the era of amateur yet effective detectives, set in a Britain where women still changed for tea and at least one servant knew what was really going on. Dunn has made every effort to include a wide range of characters and reflect what was going on in the background for people from various countries in the early part of the twentieth century. London is still a place of private cars being something of note, when people left messages with real people when calling on the telephone, and policing used very few scientific options apart from fingerprints. Not terribly literary, but an excellent mystery with many red herrings (and a few dogs) and insights into life in a different era, this is an enjoyable and relaxing read in an addictive series.   


Happily I have managed to finish a readable draft of my essay / presentation for Wednesday on Eva Peron and Evita. Who knew that knowing all the words of a concept album and musical would come in handy? I hope that it will be suitable! Now to find many images of the lady, the musical and film so even if my text is boring there will be something to look at! At least this book was a welcome distraction…  


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