“Death at Wentwater Court” and “The Winter Garden Mystery”



by Carola Dunn

Published 1994, 1995

Having bid a very fond farewell to Amelia Peabody Emerson, it is time to start a new mystery series.  I’ve been meaning to reread the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries for quite some time, and am actually pretty excited to do so.  

These books start in 1923 (so, ironically, right where the Emerson books leave off!) and are set in England.  Daisy Dalrymple is the protagonist, and a delightfully adorable one she is.  Although Daisy is an “Honorable,” being the daughter of a Lord, her cousin inherited the title, estate, and money when Daisy’s brother died in World War I.  While Daisy could live with her mother in the dowager house, or even with her cousins in her old home, Daisy has chosen to be the quintessential 1920’s girl and work for her living.  Having tried (and hated) stenography, Daisy begins Death at Wentwater Court with a new job – writing articles for a magazine.  The articles are supposed to be about various estates around the country, Daisy’s editors (correctly) assuming that she will have connections that will get her in the door where others may fail.  Wentwater Court is first on Daisy’s list, and she heads to the country expecting to spend a few quiet days taking pictures of the estate and listening to the housekeeper tell all the tales of the family’s history.  And that’s exactly what happens – except there happens to be a murder, too.

These are the ideal cozy mysteries.  Daisy is sweet and kind, but independent and fun.  She’s a very relatable person (Sophie and I have decided that that is a word), which makes these stories very easy to read.  They are quick reads (I confess – while I usually am reading through various series in a round robin fashion, I enjoyed Wentwater Court so much that I plunged right into The Winter Garden Mystery without pause!) – the dialogue is good, the characters well-written, and a good balance of the current story mixed with the over-arching development of Daisy and other characters.  These are not crime novels, so don’t expect brilliant analyses and stunning conclusions – they’re just solid, fun, well-written mysteries centered around a very likable young woman.

I will say that Daisy’s love interest is one of my favoritest of heroes.  He is solid, reliable, hard-working, steady – I fall in love with him every time I read these books.

I may not review every single one of these titles – I often don’t know what to say about mysteries (especially ones I like) because I don’t want to give anything away, but don’t be surprised to see them crop up pretty regularly.  I’ll list the full series under Dunn’s name, even the ones I don’t review.  I’m excited about rereading this series (it’s been about five or so years) because Dunn is still adding to this series, so there are several later titles that I’ve never read, and plenty of earlier ones that I don’t remember.  Overall, I highly recommend this series.