by Carola Dunn
Published 1996, 1997
In the third and fourth books of the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, we learn more about Daisy and see her relationship with one of my favorite heroes develop more.
Some words about Alec and why he makes me swoon a bit: Alec is hardworking, reliable, protective, caring, quiet, compassionate, steady – and all without a lot of fuss or drama. His wife died in the influenza epidemic (as did Daisy’s father), leaving him a single father (Belinda is nine when we first meet her). I love that Alec is ten years older than Daisy (my husband is ten years older than me so) – just his feeling of I can’t believe this beautiful young woman seems to actually like me is too adorable for words. And maybe that’s what makes Alec so endearing – he looks at his relationship with Daisy as just brilliant luck – he’s so proud and pleased to be her man. He encourages her in her work but is still a voice of reason when Daisy starts to get a bit carried away. He’s a loving father, an excellent worker, self-educated, and respected by his supervisors, peers, and underlings. Alec is not particularly romantic, but he’s the kind of man who will wear well, making a solid, dependable husband for life. Watching the mutual attraction between him and Daisy grow into love is one of my very favorite parts of this series.
Notes about these titles in particular: They’re cozy mysteries, and one of my favorite part of cozy mysteries is the way likable characters aren’t usually the ones to get knocked off. In both these stories, the problem seemed to be finding someone without a motive instead of someone with one. Both also have a closed set of potential suspects, allowing the reader to really have a chance to make a guess at whodunit. The answer is usually guessable (although I don’t always guess it because I’m a terrible detective), and Dunn doesn’t usually use annoying tricks like whipping out a murderer that you met for two paragraphs on page five while the main character was sipping a cup of coffee.
In both mysteries, Daisy’s presence is natural. Her friendship with a chief inspector at Scotland Yard also helps make the fact that Daisy frequently seems to stumble across murders seem to be at least slightly less ridiculous than it otherwise could be. While these book don’t go into a huge amount of character development, I do feel like Daisy is a relatable person – open, compassionate, friendly, polite, hardworking, stubborn, loyal, and slightly impulsive. We meet Alec’s daughter Belinda in Murder on the Flying Scotsman, and see Daisy starting to think about what her long-term relationship with Alec could mean – about whether or not she (Daisy) is ready to be a mother to a girl only 15 or so years her junior.
All in all, rereading these mysteries is just as much fun as I hoped it would be, and I highly recommend the series.