The Honorable Daisy Dalyrymple is visiting an old school chum while writing about her ancestral home when a body is discovered in the garden. Although the local police are happy to pin the housemaid's murder on her young foreign swain, Daisy has doubts. She calls in her childhood friend Philip Petrie and her new friend, Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, to help her investigate. Who killed Grace? Was it the beautiful but spineless heir who had gotten her pregnant? His best friend, the jealous Ben? His devoted sister, manipulative mother, or cowardly father? Grace's father or fiance? Or was it the travelling salesman who was seen talking to her only hours before she was killed? There are no physical clues. Only Daisy's stubborn will and insight into human nature can help her solve this case.
This is not as good as the first Daisy mystery, Death at Wentwater Court. The main characters have already been introduced, so Dunn spends less time drawing them out. The murder itself is not one of those incredibly convoluted schemes that takes the latest forensic tech to solve. It is just a basic small village murder, and is simply solved by buying rounds of drinks at the village pub and interviewing suspects. The real delight to these books is the 1920s themselves, which Dunn draws with a deft and light hand. Reminders of a depressed economy, rumbles of discontent against the upper classes, growing independence for women, and the damages of the first World War are woven throughout. And the characters themselves are fresh and breezy. Daisy has a great deal of spirit and sympathy, but as smart and kind as she is, she is still very much a product of her upbringing--she can't bring herself to shingle her hair, or stop grouping people according to class. This is, overall, a murder as cozy as a murder can be, and well worth the few hours it will take to read.