The town of Rotherden is enduring a spate of poison pen letters in Styx and Stones, the seventh book in Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series, and Lord Johnny Frobisher has called in his sister-in-law, Daisy, to investigate. Taking Belinda, the nine-year-old daughter of her fiancé, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, Daisy goes to Kent and begins getting to know everyone, only to discover that almost everyone seems to be getting these poorly-written letters full of invective against their sins, but no actual blackmail.
On her way to speak at the Women’s Institute meeting about her writing process, Daisy comes across the stone angel that had been perched upon a pedestal in the graveyard on its side and the body of a man underneath. Initially fearing that the victim is the vicar, Daisy and everyone else is relieved to realize that the dead man is actually the vicar’s unpopular brother, a Cambridge professor who poked fun at the perceived ignorance of the people of the country community.
Asked by Daisy to call a doctor and the police, Belinda and Daisy’s nine-year-old nephew Derek call Alec at Scotland Yard when they can’t reach the local constable. Though the local police detective takes over the case, Alec rushes to Rotherden to be by the side of the two people he loves most on earth, only to get into a huge fight with Daisy upon learning that she brought Belinda with her to investigate a potential crime. Of course, this being a Daisy Dalrymple book, the couple makes up to Belinda’s relief and helps to solve the murder.
The ending is not as strong as some of the other Daisy Dalrymple books, but the book falls in line in general with the other books in the series. As this is of cozy mysteries that makes a point not to show gore or have bad language, it should not be surprising that Daisy and Alec make up quickly after their fight or that the ending wraps things up fairly happily for all.
I particularly enjoyed seeing more of Daisy’s family, meeting her sister, Violet, and her family for the first time. The presence of Derek and five-year-old Peter gives Belinda a chance to show her character more. Her sweet nature comes out in the way she takes care to involve Peter despite his big brother’s objections, and the way she holds her own with Derek, who normally scorns girls and only likes her because she is the daughter of a Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector, hints at a girl who will be a suitable daughter to the independent Daisy.
Styx and Stones does not deal as much with the social issues found in most of the series. The topic of class hardly comes up, and race does not appear at all. The book does deal with the repercussions of the Great War, in its effect on both Lord Johnny and the vicar, who served as chaplain during the war.
This is the last book narrated by Mia Chiaromonte, who continues to do a wonderful job of voicing the characters and making the story come alive.
Because of the somewhat weak ending, I don’t give this book a full five stars, but I really enjoyed it, so I give it four stars.
Styx and Stones (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, No. 7) is available now in multiple formats. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title. You may also find it in your local bookstore or library.