Carola Dunn

Carola Dunn
Dead in the Water

Clad in pajamas and dressing gown, armed with only an electric torch, Daisy Dalrymple sneaks outdoors in the dead of night to examine a boathouse that may have been the scene of a crime. Plucky? Foolhardy? Impulsive?

Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard considers his fiancée all those things, not to mention infuriating and meddlesome. But he loves Daisy anyway—and so do we.

Despite the “Honourable” in front of her name, this warmhearted, resourceful heroine is a working girl, earning her living writing magazine pieces. The combination of pedigree and press credentials gives her entrée into a variety of situations where she just happens to stumble across corpses, often putting her on the spot even before the authorities are called in. (This time-honored device was most notably used in TV’s Murder, She Wrote, where Jessica Fletcher—no relation to Alec—discovered some 30 bodies per year for well over a decade.)

Alec’s subordinates, Tring and Piper, make no secret of their admiration for Daisy’s instincts. “Just like Miss Dalrymple said!” they have been known to chortle when her hunches are borne out through solid police legwork and the newfangled science of “dabs” (fingerprints).

This sixth installment of Daisy’s adventures takes us to the Henley Royal Regatta of 1923, with detours into the dynamics of competitive rowing, class conflict, and house parties. Dunn’s smooth narrative style breathes life into period details from evening dress to motorcars.

Nancy Mitford once lamented that future generations would probably conflate the two World Wars and forget that the years between them ever existed. But thanks to a bevy of contemporary authors who have chosen to set their mysteries in this era, we are now seeing a mini revival of the Golden Age of crime fiction. As Daisy would say, “Spiffing!”

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