A new adventure for gutsy features reporter Daisy Dalrymple, a daughter of the 1920s aristocracy (Styx and Stones, 1999, etc.), who’s engaged to Scotland Yard’s Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher—a fiancé her mother, the Dowager Lady Dalrymple, finds as objectionable as her profession. Assigned to write an article on London museums for an American magazine, Daisy visits the Natural History Museum—home to fossils, bones, minerals, and eventually murder. But not before Daisy meets Mineral Keeper Pettigrew and other curators—Septimus Mummery, head of Fossil Reptiles; Curator of Fossils Ruddlestone; dinosaur expert Steadman; anthropologist Finch Brown, from the British Museum; and a constant presence in the Natural History rooms—Grand Duke Rudolph Maximilian of Transcarpathia, ever gazing at the priceless ruby once owned by his grandfather. It’s Daisy’s ill-luck to be present when Dr. Pettigrew is found stabbed to death in the reptile gallery, evidently by a sharpened flint. A short time later the Duke’s ruby is revealed as a fake, along with the entire collection of precious stones. Alec and his competent second-in-command Tom Tring work their way through a mass of suspects, motives, keys, caches, and opportunities, but it’s Daisy, as usual, who paws through the exhibits to come up with the final answer.
The museum seems to cast a pall over the proceedings this time out, with Daisy’s role overexpanded but lacking its usual verve. Strictly for diehard Daisy fans.