Fall of a Philanderer (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, No. 14)

Fall of a Philanderer - Carola Dunn A bit better than the last Daisy D book, if only because there aren't quite so many characters, so there's more depth to each character and more story. This book takes place just a month after the previous book (which was to be Lucy's June wedding), and Daisy has her step-daughter Belinda and Belinda's friend, Deva, with her at a small ocean community. Alec is expected in a day or so, and they're to have some much needed vacation time to themselves.But almost immediately, Daisy encounters two interesting characters: Sid, a mute (called "dumb" in those days), who lives somewhere near the beach and has a cart full of interesting, but raggedy items; and Mr. George Enderby, the co-owner of the local pub and inn, who gives her the creeps. While Daisy is cautious of Sid until she gets to know him a bit better, she's downright avoiding Mr. Enderby, a known philanderer who, despite being married himself, has no qualms about pursuing any female in the area, whether she's married or not. To Daisy's delight, having the two girls with her puts Enderby off just enough to allow her to give him a wide berth. And an encounter between the two men provides valuable clues as to what's to come.In this little town, everyone knows everyone else's business. Most try to ignore it, but a Mrs. Hammett is not only a busy-body, but she makes sure that her opinions are heard, loud and clear, and she hasn't any scruples about making sure everyone else knows what she knows.When Daisy's landlady, Mrs. Anstruthers, warns her about Enderby, Daisy gets the feeling that Mrs. A is speaking from personal experience. Mrs. A's husband, Peter, is a navy man and is often gone for several months at a time; in an unguarded moment, Mrs. A confides to Daisy that she did have an affair with Enderby - one that she bitterly regrets. But there isn't much time for more confidences when another visitor shows up: a schoolteacher, Mr. Baskin. Baskin says he's there to hike as much as possible, but there's something more to it. Baskin is asking too many questions about Enderby - questions such as the placement of possible scars on his body. Daisy overhears him mutter to himself that Enderby needs to be stopped.After a public airing of a quarrel between Enderby and his wife, Daisy is more sure than ever that the philanderer is no good. And when Mrs. A's husband, Peter, comes home the same day that Alec arrives, and they witness a brawl in the pub after Peter's mate, Stubbins, tells him that his wife had an affair with Enderby... Alec, Daisy, and Baskin all follow Peter home to prevent him from domestic violence. But Peter doesn't beat his wife; instead, they talk (she obviously confesses), and the two make up... while Baskin, Alec, and Daisy awkwardly crouch nearby, unable to move without being seen or heard.The next day, on a picnic hike with the girls, Alec discovers the body of Mr. Enderby. It looks as if it was badly beaten before being thrown off the cliff. Of course, despite his resolve to stay out of it, Alec is called in as the DCI in charge from by Scotland Yard. An Inspector Mallow is a nearby local man, but Daisy witnesses his sly, deceptive ways of dropping "bombs" on his suspects - he even forces Daisy into admitting that Alec is a DCI. So Alec, unwilling to keep his own men from their vacations, uses the local police force as much as possible - keeping Mallow away from most of the questioning.Did Peter Anstruthers murder Enderby in a jealous rage? What is Baskin's business with Enderby and why did he seem to relieved to learn that Enderby was dead? Which town woman did Enderby move to after Mrs. A? And which farm girl was his latest victim? Was she the one who left a dazzling but cheap earring at the cliffside? And will Alec be able to wrap up this mystery and still have some time to spend with his wife and daughter?==================In the last book, there were too many characters. In this book, there are too many possible suspects - everyone in this little town hated Enderby and most had a reason to want him dead or out of the way. Despite knowing his reputation and despite knowing even his victim's names, why did someone not act before? Why choose to act now? Which is why Peter Anstruther and Baskin are the prime suspects - they're the "new" factor. And while Baskin's motives remain a mystery until the end of the book, for whatever reason Alec and Daisy trust him enough to allow him to take Belinda and Deva on hikes - huh? The man is nice and all, but he's a SUSPECT! With unknown motives! And because most of the crime solving takes place over a weekend, it's tough to get too much information about Baskin from Scotland Yard. So WHY are Daisy and Alec trusting this man with Belinda's and Deva's lives?Once again, the author proves she knows nothing about pregnancy or pregnant women. She remarks that Daisy's waist is growing by inches... and that Daisy might be "front heavy"... and that Daisy needs to be extra cautious walking, and yet she has no qualms about carrying a heavy deck chair down to the beach. HUH? Daisy is 3 months pregnant! At that stage of pregnancy, she probably has a baby bump, but unless she's been chowing down everything in sight, she likely doesn't even look pregnant! In fact, Enderby obviously doesn't notice her "extra inches" when he makes his passes at her. And no one else, not even Belinda, suspects the pregnancy until Daisy lets on. Remember the way women dressed in this time? The long, straight, hip-hugging dresses?Again, the plot is good, but there are too many details that get in the way. It's OK to lead the reader on a merry chase with all the possible suspects and motives. But it seems that this author has a tendency to wander too long or get overly dramatic when she has a good plot, but a thin one. In this case, Mallow and the local police fill a few pages with their antics, as does the local colorful beat-em-up farmer, who should have been pulled in for domestic violence long ago. But this was another age - an age where domestic violence wasn't reported often and was often overlooked.Ah well... not quite the satisfying demise that it could have been, but a sufficient overall story. I was just sad that Alec missed most of his vacation. I realize that these are mystery books, but it seems as Daisy and Alec could catch a break for longer than a few pages.