Die Laughing (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, No. 12)

Die Laughing - Carola Dunn 3+ starsThis Daisy Dalymple is set in the neighborhood of Daisy's home with her husband, Chief Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher, his daughter Belinda (Bel), and her mother-in-law Mrs. Fletcher. We finally get a glimpse of Daisy's domestic life and her new neighborhood. We also get to meet some new characters we've heard a bit about, such as Deva (Bel's Indian friend) and her mother, Sakari.Daisy has an appointment with the Fletcher family dentist - she has a cavity of some sort, and going to the dentist is not Daisy's favorite thing to do! This is her first trip to see Mr. Talmadge professionally. She's met the Talmadges in the local "society" gatherings; Mr. Talmadge is tall and very handsome; Mrs. Talmadge is well-dressed and carefully made-up. They're quite the pinnacle of the middle-class suburbia.Except that when Daisy arrives at Mr. Talmadge's office for her 2:00pm appointment, there's no one in the reception area and the door to the surgery is locked. After waiting 10 minutes, Daisy's nerves have her just about to give up when Nurse Henley flies in, out of breath. She says that she's late arriving back from lunch, and she sighs in relief when she finds that Mr. Talmadge isn't around. Except that when the Nurse and Daisy go through the house to another door into the surgery, they encounter Mrs. Talmadge, getting out of a taxi cab, resplendent in a brown suit, brown hat, and brown veil. Mrs. Talmadge obviously doesn't like Nurse Henley, and she insists upon locating her husband herself. Grabbing the surgery key, Mrs. Talmadge proceeds Daisy into the surgery, and quickly gasps, then tries to block Daisy's view. But it's too late - Daisy's already seen the dentist, Mr. Talmadge, in a chair, with the laughing gas mask and an eerie smile on his face. Mrs. Talmadge exclaims that he must have fallen asleep, but as he's not moving, Daisy quickly checks his pulse... and sure enough, the dentist is dead.Nurse Henley exclaims it must have been an accident - that the dentist just didn't turn on the oxygen necessary with the gas. She turns the oxygen on, but it's still too late. Daisy tells them to call the doctor and the police, to which both the nurse and the wife blanch. Surely it's just an unfortunate accident! But Daisy notices a small rectangular mark by the dentist's mouth that smells like the sticking plasters of the day (could someone have blocked his air through his mouth?), as well as creases on the arms of his suit that could indicate the dentist had been tied to the chair - probably with bandages. Daisy shoos the ladies out, puts on her gloves, locks the surgery, carefully pulls the door shut, and locks it.A Sergeant Mckinnon is originally called to the scene, and he seems to be competent enough, except that he poo-poohs Daisy's ideas. So Daisy phones Alec. Poor Alec! And once again, Alec's the assigned DCI.But the sleepy suburban middle-class neighborhood comes to life after the doctor, the police, Scotland Yard, and a coroner show up. And sure enough, there's evidence to support Daisy's theory of murder. Mrs. Talmadge is in hysterics; Nurse Henley is fighting with everyone, mostly Mrs. Talmadge's maid, and Nurse mentions that Mrs. T wasn't such a good wife, not having an affair. Mrs. T's maid says that "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander", leaving Daisy to believe that Mr. T was also having an affair. Somehow, Daisy becomes not only peace-maker, but Mrs. T clings to her side; Daisy and Mrs. T have been nodding acquaintances, but now Mrs. T treats her as a bosom friend. What's Daisy to do?Suddenly Daisy is thrust into the spotlight as a witness, and becomes subject of Mrs. Fletcher's disapproval, the neighborhood gossip's best friend and most-invited to luncheon, tea, and dinner. Due to her "Honorable" status, the neighborhood never quite accepted Daisy as one of their own -- except for the mothers of Bel's two best friends. Daisy tries to carefully walk the line between being part of the investigation, pleasing Alec, making peace at home, and finding out who's been sleeping with whom.It comes to light that Mrs. T has, indeed, been having an affair - with a Lord Creighton. And Mr. T's latest mistress seems to have been the wife of Major Walker - a slippery woman, who tells lies as easily as she breathes. When Major Walker ends up dead by apparent suicide (head in the gas oven), and Mrs. Walker's fingerprints are found on the gas, a mug containing Ovaltine and a sleeping draught, and the pan where the milk was heated, it seems as if Mrs. Walker is covering her tracks.But are Daisy and Alec on the right track?================This fast-paced book was enjoyable, because we get to see Daisy's domestic life. We see the tension between Daisy and Alec's mother in the home; Alec's mother never approved of the marriage between her middle-class son and the lady of noble birth; she certainly doesn't approve of Daisy's writing career, her housekeeping skills, or her penchant for stumbling over bodies and then interfering in the murder investigations.We see Mrs. Fletcher take an extended vacation with a friend to her sister's home in Brighton. Daisy is depressed, until Alec tells her that his first wife, Joan, and his mother didn't get along well either; in fact, his mother only came for rare visits while Joan and Alec were married. Alec wonders if he can get his mother to move out permanently, giving everyone the space they need. Belinda is delighted with Daisy as her new mother, and Alec likes the way his daughter is carefree again.We can only hope that Alec succeeds... we don't know when the book ends.I hope for more scenes of Daisy's domestic life. It's fun to see her go to historic homes for her articles, but it's refreshing to get a glimpse of her "real" life... to see the setting in which she's joined Alec and Belinda. Thank goodness the Fletcher's domestic help is on Daisy's side!