The Winter Garden Mystery (A Daisy Dalrymple mystery)

The Winter Garden Mystery - Carola Dunn 3-3.5 starsThe 2nd Daisy Dalrymple has Daisy off to Occles House, where a sporty schoolchum, Bobbie (Roberta) lives with her brother Sebastian, her horror of a mother Lady Valeria, and her dairy-occupied father. Lady Valeria runs the small village, Occleswich, like an iron-maiden. And she coddles Sebastian, keeping him at her side and away from would-be maidens who'd just love to be Mrs. Sebastian (Lady Sebastian in the near future). Oh, and Sebastian is a looker - almost a Greek god, as Daisy puts it. She's a little taken in by his looks, but she's put off by his mamby-pamby misery.Daisy is planning on featuring the Occles House in her next article in Town and Country. When she arrives, she gets an earful from the local lorry-driver, Tom, who tells her about the long-standing feud between Lady V and the smithy, Moss, as well as the tale of how Grace Moss ran off a couple of months ago with a traveling salesman. Upon arrival at Occles House, Daisy discovers that Bobbie only asked her father's permission, not her mum's, and Lady V is none too happy about Daisy's visit. Lady V has put-downs for everyone, and she manages to get a few good ones off on Daisy about working being outside of her "class", etc.So when Daisy's touring the Winter Garden and finds a dead bush, the Welsh under-gardener sets to dig it up... and discovers the body of Grace Moss, a former housemaid who was "stepping out" with the under-gardener, but also rumored to be having a "fling" with Sebastian... she digs up more than anyone ever expected. The local constabulary sends Inspector Dunnet, nicknamed Inspector Dimwit, and Daisy soon finds out why. Within a day, she's on the phone with Chief Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher, asking him to please come out and take over the case. As it so happens, the local Chief Constable isn't happy with Dimwit's investigation, but he's as afraid of Lady V as anyone, so he makes an inquiry of Scotland Yard to help locate the salesman. And then happily turns over the case to CDI Alec Fletcher.Philip Petrie, Daisy's brother's chum, motored up when he heard about the body being discovered, too. And he's none too happy about Alec being on hand. But Philip manages to simmer down and contribute to the investigation, despite his feelings.Daisy uncovers more about the family than anyone wanted revealed... and between them, Daisy and Alec finally solve the case.-------------Not as good as the 1st book. This book seemed drawn-out... as though the author was reluctant to reveal anything for fear of the resolution being known too soon. The problem is, any mystery reader realizes almost immediately who the murderer is - not so with the previous book. But the red herrings and knots abound, so Daisy and Alec must track each down and untie each knot before finally coming to the solution that we, the readers, have known all along. In the midst of the family drama, secrets are revealed - prejudicial secrets for their time. One wonders how Alec will take such secrets... he seems to "do the right thing", though, so the readers can be relieved. (Which, in a way, seems unfair for a modern reader to hold Alec, a man of the 1920s, to modern standards of fairness and acceptance.)I wondered how the author would put Daisy and Alec together again. It's obvious from the ending of the previous book that they're to be love-interests. And it's charming to see Alec have moments of jealousy over Sebastian and a few other men that Daisy has taken under her wing. At the beginning of the book, Alec shows up at the train station to give Daisy a box of chocolates for her journey; and Daisy thinks about Alec and his little girl during the story. So we know that this is to be a longer-term attraction; the question is, will Daisy and Alec ever be able to truly be together? They're still in a class-based society, and Daisy is the "Honorable" Daisy Dalrymple - from gentry - while Alec is a middle-class policeman.We'll just have to see.