Thursday, 14 March 2013

Book Review No. 4

May I present The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn.

This is the second in the Daisy Dalrymple Mystery series. I read the first about a year (maybe more) ago and quite enjoyed it; I didn't love it but, as is my way, I'd already got overexcited and bought lots more books from the series whenever I saw them in charity shops, on eBay and on ReadItSwapIt. Hence, this one was sitting in my cosy crime bookcase (alongisde plenty more from the series) just asking to be read and asking me to give the series another chance.

As a cozy series this one differs from most, set as it is in 1920s England (most cozies, in my experience, seem to be set in mordern-day USA.) The social constraints of the era are apparent as Daisy fights hard to be 'independent'; despite her mother's complaints she is employed by Town and Country magazine to write about different stately/grand homes around the country, which is how she so handily happens to be in the right place at the right time to help solve  murder(s). The atmosphere of the 20s is also apparent in the language, behaviour, settings, etc throughout the book (and entire series, I assume), making it a gentle read where the modern world (computers, mobile phones, even motor cars for the most part) does not intrude. I'm sure a historian of the 1920s would find fault with some part of the book, but I enjoyed the fact that we are taken back to a time when things seemed (if not were in actual fact) a little gentler and less frantic.

So, in this book Daisy arrives at the country home of an old school friend and pretty soon she stumbles across a body (that of former parlourmaid Grace) buried in the Winter Garden. The gardener (Grace's beau) is arrested, but Daisy is convinced he's innocent. After the local police do a pretty rum job of trying to solve the crime (ie they don't really bother), Daisy calls on her old acquaintance from the last murder she solved, who happens to be an Inspector at Scotland Yard and together they set about solving the crime.

Some interesting (albeit stereotypical-ish) characters: the overbearing mother, the father who keeps out of the way by emersing himself in his model dairy farm, jolly hockeysticks daughter, son with a secret. And it all comes out in the wash, of course.

I enjoyed this book, and will happily continue to read more in the series.


  1. I love book reviews on blogs, thanks for this one Justine, I'm trying to decide what to pick for our April reading group at the mo!

  2. I've read the first one - you know where someone is found frozen in the river....and have been looking out for more - it's an easy read but I think CD is very good at period details...

  3. I might see whether the library has this.

  4. Thank you for your kind comments, ladies!
    I'm pretty sure you could get this book on ReadItSwapIt if you wanted a copy to keep. I've seen plenty from this series in charity shops too, unlike most cozy crime series (which is because most are printed in the USA, I assume.)


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