In Murder on the Flying Scotsman, the fourth book in the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn, Daisy is on her way to Edinburgh to write another article about an estate when she discovers Belinda, the 9-year-old daughter of Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher looking for her on the train. Belinda has run away from home because her grandmother won’t allow her to play with her friend Deva because Deva is from India. In the mistaken belief that Daisy would be meeting her father, Belinda has stowed away on the train to get her father to override her granny’s rule.
On the train, Daisy runs into a school friend and learns that Anne’s entire family is on the train, summoned to Scotland to the deathbed of her grandfather, “the miser of Dunstin Castle.” They are all concerned because Alistair McGowan believes in inheritance through the male line and, having only daughters, has left all his money to his twin brother, Albert, who lived his whole life in India apart from the family and has left all his money to a young Indian protégé of his, Dr. Chandra Jagai. Despite the family’s bitter attitude toward Uncle Albert, Belinda finds a friend in him and eagerly gets him to tell her about his life in India. Invited to return later for tea, Belinda discovers that Albert is dead, and Daisy soon realizes that he had been murdered, and the train is full of people with motive to want to kill him. Daisy easily convinces the police to summon Alec Fletcher, along with his team members Tom Tring and Ernie Piper, to take over the case.
This book is one of my favorite books in the series. I enjoyed meeting Belinda and seeing the dynamic between her and Daisy and also her and her father. Daisy shows a new side in mothering Belinda, taking good care of the girl, while Belinda shows growing adoration of Daisy, even telling her she wishes that Daisy would marry her father. Daisy’s developing relationship with Alec also is fun to follow.
This series very strongly deals with issues of class, with people’s shock at the fact that the daughter of a viscount would actually work for a living, and the almost scandalous relationship between the member of the nobility and middle class detective. This book further addresses the xenophobia of pre-World War II England. I find it interesting to see the way the series extends the portrayal of foreigners. In The Winter Garden Mystery, the “foreigner” everyone is eager to blame comes from Wales, which is still part of Great Britain. Then in Requiem for a Mezzo, the foreigners hail from Russia and Spain, foreign but at least from Europe, where they have a common religion and somewhat similar cultures. Now, the foreigner comes from India and even mentions Hinduism as he teaches yoga to the shell-shock victim to help the young man learn to use breathing techniques to cope with his terrors. The book shows Dr. Jugay as a friendly, sympathetic character, working to dispel the negative views of foreigners, with Belinda telling Dr. Jugay that her father has taught her that all people are equal under the law, no matter what their race or religion.
Murder on the Flying Scotsman changes narrators from Bernadette Dunne to Mia Chiaromonte, my favorite among the three narrators in the series. I find her voice to be sympathetic and enjoyable to hear her narrate the book. In previous reviews, I have been critical of the way that the narrators pronounce names differently, but I think that Chiaromonte pronounces things more accurately than Dunne does.
In enjoying the many strengths of this book, I give it five stars!
Murder on the Flying Scotsman (Daisy Dalrymple) is available now. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title–or try your local bookstore or library.