After the disappointment of the last faux-Golden Age crime novel I tried, it’s with actual delight that I’m sharing Carola Dunn’s offering.
Published in 1997, Death at Wentwater Court is the first in a series starring the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple as our aristocratic amateur detective. At the start of a new career as a journalist, she’s visiting the Earl of Wentwater and his family just after New Year 1923 to write a piece about the Court for Town & Country magazine, only for one of the other house-guests to turn up drowned in a hole in the ice on the skating pond on her second day there. As the only outsider, and one with shorthand and typing skills, she assists the Scotland Yard man, the happily competent DCI Alec Fletcher CID, sent to investigate.
By all accounts, the dead man was something of a bounder, and almost everyone in the house has at least one reason for wanting him dead. So who and why?
This very much has the style of the Golden Age crime novels. The characters all feel real. Unlike with Blotto and Twinks, the dated language feels natural, not contrived or over-done, and details about class or which date it to the Twenties are so beautifully interwoven that, of course, it’s from the period.
I’ve read some of the others in the series (out of order), and they continue to provide an easy afternoon’s entertainment. Daisy is practical and sensible, and Fletcher clearly deserves his position as DCI. All in all, a jolly read. A bit like Nancy Drew.