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by Carola Dunn
St Martin's Minotaur, September 2007
272 pages
ISBN: 0312363060

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The 16th installment in the Daisy Dalrymple series, BLOODY TOWER, sees Daisy settled with twins and policeman husband in the suburbs. Itís a bit of a comedown for an earlís daughter, and as much as she loves Alec and the children, itís a bigger adjustment than Daisy realized to live in a small house with a despotic nanny.

But she hasnít entirely given up her old ways. Still writing, Daisy has sold a series of articles about the Tower of London. And when one of the Yeoman Warders (donít call them Beefeaters!) fetches up at the bottom of a foggy set of stairs with a broken neck and a ceremonial partizan in his back, Daisy is right back to investigating unofficially alongside Alecís official inquiries.

The victim is the most inoffensive of men, the elderly and sweet Chief Warder Crabtree. Who would shove him over and run him through when people would practically line up to break the neck of the rotter Warden Rumford Ė or was it a case of mistaken identity, what with the two men resembling each other so much?

The mystery part of the proceedings Ė outlined almost as quickly in the plot as it is here Ė is the weakest part of the book. Had the killer had the minimal intelligence to have kept the partizan out of the proceedings, there would have been no question of anything but accidental death . . . but then, there would also have been no mystery either. Itís a stupid setup, so foolish that even the characters remark on it, and Iím not particularly forgiving about those.

However, the rest of the book is so exquisitely charming that I can almost overlook it. Dunn perfectly nails the old-world charm of England between the wars, as society is caught shifting slowly from a graciously-remembered past to a modern, multicultural future. The characters, from Daisy and her friends through the rowdy, officer-chasing girls to the various officials and officers of the Tower, are as clearly drawn and amusing as their Wodehouseian contemporaries. I canít recommend the read for the mystery, but itís an excellent one for people who prefer atmosphere to puzzle.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, October 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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