Seething resentments, well-kept family secrets, and a savage murder set the stage for Christmas in Cornwall in this cozy holiday installment of the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries.
In December 1923, the formidable Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple has decided that for Christmas the family will all gather at Brockdene in Cornwall at the invitation of Lord Westmoor. Her daughter - Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher - is somewhat less than pleased but yields to the demands of her mother, especially as she'll be there just before the holidays working on another article for Town and Country about the estate itself. But the family gathering quickly goes awry.
Brockdene, it seems, is occupied only by the Norvilles - poor relations of Lord Westmoor - and Westmoor himself won't be joining them. So Daisy; her husband, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard; and their family must spend their Christmas holiday trapped in an ancestral estate with a rich history of lore, ghost stories, and rumors of hidden treasure and secret passageways with a family seething with resentments, grudges, and a faintly scandalous history.
The veneer of civility that pervades the halls of Brockdene, however, begins to wear thin when long-held family secrets threaten to bubble over, and one of the Christmas guests is found savagely murdered. With few clues as to who committed the murder, and with too many motives as to why, it is once again up to Daisy to sort out the truth that lies beneath a generation of poisonous secrets.
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Generally good performance of an enjoyable story
I mostly love the Daisy Dalrymple stories which are delightful mysteries with a regular cast of pleasant, well portrayed characters and with the sex and violence depicted in a gentle or implied manner. (I am quite happy to cope with sex and violence but these stories have a lovely, gentle 1920s feel to them which makes a nice change from some of the more gruesome crime novels.)
I was therefore really pleased to find recordings of the early stories on Audible and was hugely disappointed by these recordings, performed by Americans with absolutely no concept of how the English upper classes spoke in the 20s. It was therefore a relief to discover Lucy Rayner's performances of stories further on in the series. She totally grasps the accents and her performances as Daisy, Alec and most of the other characters fit very well with how I had imagined them to sound.
Mistletoe and Murder is, as one would expect from the title, a Christmas story with a murder thrown in, set in a remote Cornish country house and with an interesting cast of characters in addition to Daisy, Alec, Belinda and Derek and the Dowager Viscountess, whom we have met before. I enjoyed the story and felt that, generally, the performance of the different characters was good and they were well differentiated. There are some odd mispronunciations that are a little annoying but not overly intrusive. But why,oh why, oh WHY did Lucy choose to give a Cornish country solicitor a truly appalling Scottish accent? Fortunately this character does not appear in every scene and did not therefore totally detract from my enjoyment of the story, but a poor Cornish accent would have been a lot easier to cope with in the circumstances. As a result I have taken one star off my performance rating.
Despite the problems however, I am looking forward to listening to more of Lucy Rayner's recordings of the Daisy Dalrymple series.
I have this book on my Kindle, but had actually forgotten who dunit, nothing new there then! A thoroughly enjoyable book in the usual Carola Dunn style.
My only complaint is............ why did Lucy Rayner narrate the other books in the series? I hope to hear more from this lady in the future.
- Mrs. Rm Walters