Saturday, 27 July 2013

Book Review No. 15: Requiem for a Mezzo

Book three in the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn.

Set in the UK during the 1920s, this is a cosy crime series which differs from many, as I've mentioned in a previous review since most cozies, in my experience, seem to be set in modern-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 stately/grand homes around the country, which is how she so often happens to be in the right place at the right time to help solve murder(s). The atmosphere of the 1920s is 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(s) of the book, but I enjoyed the fact that we are taken back to a time when things seemed, even if they weren't actually, a little gentler and less frantic.

The story for the book is thus: Daisy and her 'friend' Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard have been invited along to the Royal Albert Hall where Daisy's neighbour Bettina is taking part in a performance of Verdi's Requiem alongside several other opera singers. During the performance, Bettina takes a sip from her glass to help her throat and promptly keels over, dead from arsenic poisoning. The remainder of the book is, unsurprisingly, taken up with Daisy and Alec attempting to find out 'whodunnit'. There is a glimpse into Daisy's home life in the Chelsea area of London and the relationship between Daisy and Alex also develops a little further. The suspects are "interesting" (to the point of kookiness) in the way that performers so often seem to be and the plot twists plus red herrings keep you guessing til the end. And that's probably all I can say without giving the game away.

If you enjoy cosy crime books you might be interested to give this series a go; even if you're more a fan of Agatha Christie and/or Patricia Highsmith you might enjoy it, for the settings or time period as much as anything else (autopsies, finger prints and other detection methods are evolving which is interesting in itself), although I'm not sure the plots are anything to match those penned by Ms Christie.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! I try to respond to your comments within this section, so please check back (if you feel like it!)