Mistletoe and Murder, the eleventh book in the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn, sees Daisy visiting Brockdene Castle for an article and spending Christmas there, along with her husband, Chief Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher; step-daughter, Belinda; mother, the Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple; and nephew, Derek. Upon arriving at Brockdene, Daisy is curious to find the castle without even gas lighting or fires, let alone electricity or telephones, and occupied by a poor branch of the seventh Lord Westmore’s family.
With stories of secret passages, hidden drawers in antique furniture, a possible hidden treasure, smugglers, and even a ghost, the children are excited for their Christmas, only to find a potential Scrooge. The jolly Captain Norville, the older son of the widow Mrs. Norville, has brought with him an old missionary who is critical of everything he perceives to be irreverent, including their Christmas tree and decorations, as well as any secular Christmas carols. However, when, on Christmas morning, Alec and two other members of her household discover the missionary murdered, Alec inevitably gets put in charge of the case.
Alec soon discovers that the family all had an excellent reason to want to keep the old missionary alive, making it difficult to find anyone with a motive. The children excitedly get involved in the search for clues, finding large quantities of rubbish in the forest and weaving tales of how smugglers may have left the items.
This book is a delightful addition to the series, especially following the American-based The Case of the Murdered Muckraker. I especially love seeing Belinda and Derek and their fun in everything around them.
Mistletoe and Murder once again addresses the recurring topic of class, plus race and xenophobia. The way the Norville family has been treated by their richer relative, Lord Westmore, because of their Indian heritage is really disgusting. The Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple begins the book with negativity for having to spend Christmas with an Indian, but this very class-conscious and arrogant woman actually begins to accept Mrs. Norville.
The continuing repercussions of the Great War also have significance in this book, as well as the others in this series. Miles Norville, the grandson of old Mrs. Norville, has just one arm as a result of the war and seems to think that he is no longer attractive to women. The impact of the war plays a significant role in the solution to the murder as well.
This is the most recent book to be recorded on audio, though Fall of a Philanderer was released with the first three books. Lucy Rayner continues the narration and does a good job again. I really hope that the publisher has plans to release more of the Daisy Dalrymple books in audio format.
I happily give this thoroughly enjoyable book five stars and recommend it to anyone who likes cozy mysteries.
Mistletoe and Murder: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries Book 11) is available in multiple formats. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title. You may also find it in your local bookstore or library.