If you'd like to take a break from all those complex and riveting, but gory mysteries that feature tired police inspectors on the hunt for serial killers, who seem to be constantly thwarted by incompetent superiors and ambitious junior officers, you might consider Carola Dunn's latest offering in the utterly charming Daisy Dalrymple mystery series, "Fall of a Philanderer."
It's the summer of 1924, and Daisy, her stepdaughter, Belinda, and Belinda's school-chum, Deva, are happily enjoying themselves at the seaside town of Westcombe while they wait for Daisy's husband, Alec, to join them. The days are glorious and Westcombe seems idyllic, but it doesn't take Daisy too long to realise that Westcombe seems to possess it's own version of the serpent in the garden, George Enderby, the landlord of the Schooner Inn. Married himself, George's specialty seems to be comforting women, married or not, who feel lonely and neglected. Daisy is determined not to get pulled into the affair -- after all she and her family are in Westcombe for a holiday! But soon after Alec's arrival, the Fletchers discover George's broken body while exploring a secluded cove. With Alec put in charge of the investigation, Daisy is, nevertheless, determined not to embarrass him by getting involved in the investigation herself. Except that people will confide in her! And if it will help Alec to make an arrest, Daisy is not adverse to rolling up her sleeves in order to sort through all the gossip and innuendo in order to help Alec arrive at the truth...
While "Fall of a Philanderer" was not the thrilling, fast paced, on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of read, it was nice, quick and enjoyable one nonetheless. The plot unfolded in a fairly even and straightforward manner -- there were no jaw dropping plot twists, even though the book did possess quite a few suspects that should keep readers wondering for a fair while. The thing about "Fall of a Philanderer" is that it is a nice, relaxing and fun read. It'sot very complex, or very clever. It is, however, very well written and brilliantly executed. And after having read some mystery novels that have been heavy on atmosphere and possessed convoluted plot premises that went no where and left one feeling confused and cheated, "Fall of a Philanderer" was a wonderful treat. I knew what I was in for, and Carola Dunn delivered in spades! A wonderfully fun read.
(Note: I really liked the author's description of the coastal town of Westcombe. It was vivid and inviting, and in a rather interesting coincidence reminded me of my recent trips to a few coastal towns in Northern Oregon.)