Amateur sleuth Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher and her photographer pal Lucy’s visit to a stately home becomes less about their planned book on architectural follies and more about murder.
Appsworth Hall is currently owned by Mr. Pritchard, a pleasant enough man in the plumbing trade whose current crop of guests is a remarkably mixed bag. The utterly tactless Lord Rydal, aka Rhino, is visiting to pursue Daisy’s old school friend Julia, whose impecunious mother Lady Beaufort is all for the advantageous match. Julia herself is more interested in a visiting historian of mysterious background who sometimes acts as the ghost of the beautifully restored Grotto. Rhino is taking special pains to distance himself from two of his fellow guests, Lady Ottaline and Sir Desmond Wandersleys, because Lady Ottaline is his lover. Daisy’s husband, DCI Alex Fletcher of Scotland Yard, arrives with Lucy’s husband, Lord Gerald Bincombe, just in time for the Grotto to explode, killing Lord Rydal and injuring Lady Ottaline, who had arranged a tryst there with the reluctant Rhino. The local police, happy to have help from Alec, are less keen on Daisy’s meddling, but it’s her inside knowledge that ultimately solves the case.
Full of country-house charm but by no means the best of Dunn’s venerable series starring the aristocratic Daisy and her policeman husband (Black Ship, 2008, etc.).