Daisy Fletcher has taken her stepdaughter and Belinda’s school friend Deva in a vacation to the seaside in Fall of a Philanderer, book fourteen in the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn. Almost immediately upon their first chance to go out to the beach after a few rainy days, Daisy meets George Endetby, the proprietor of the local Schooner Inn. He immedietly tries to seduce the 3-month-pregnant Daisy, not minding that she is married at all. As Daisy is struggling to disentangle herself from the obvious cad, Enderby sees Sid, a ragged, mute beachcomber and takes out his anger on him. Being a gentle spirit, the mute man “turns the other cheek” by turning around, bending over, and looking at the now-confused Enderby between his legs, which serves to turn away his bully. The girls, who already have made friends with Sid, are impressed, and Belinda clearly “takes Sid under her wing,” to use the term that Alec uses for Daisy’s behavior towards people she likes—whether or not they are suspects.
A week later Alec Fletcher is able to join Daisy, Belinda, and Deva for the second week of their holiday, and this time Alec is the one to “stumble over a body,” the term he and his assistant commissioner use for Daisy’s penchant for getting involved in murder mysteries. While hiking on a cliff, Alec discovers the body of Enderby who was thrown off the cliff and beaten badly. The prime question now becomes which of the many cuckolded husbands of this philandering creep.
This book is my least favorite of the Daisy Dalrymple books. It’s not the presence of sex, per se, since most books deal with sex to some degree, but the distasteful form that the sex takes in this book. I did not like all the talk of the conquests of the murdered man and the way Alec, who has been put in charge of the investigation, has to ask not just personal questions but questions that are uncomfortable for all.
The book also does not deal much with extra themes. Though there is a hint of xenophobia and classism, seen in the behavior of one woman who considers herself superior to the rest of the world and objects to Belinda’s Indian friend Deva. She only tolerates Deva upon learning that Deva is the daughter of a high official at India House. Other than this one scene, the only other thematic element I found was the mistreatment of Sid for being mute.
This book, despite being book fourteen in the series, was among the first four recorded. I assume it must have been the most recent book to have been written at that time, but I think it’s a bad choice of book to use as a lure for the series. Bernadette Dunne does the narration once again and is enjoyable.
Because I find this book fairly unenjoyable, I give it only four stars.
Fall of a philanderer 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.