In Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn, Daisy Fletcher, younger daughter of the late Viscount Dalrymple, learns that the cousin who has inherited the title from her father has come to realize that, not having any children, he must locate the male-descended next of kin. Edgar has entrusted his solicitor, Tommy Pearson, whom he met through Daisy, with locating the descendants of the distant black sheep of the family. Four people come forward, and Cousin Edgar invites Raymond, a diamond merchant from South Africa; Vincent, a hotelier originally from France and now living in England; Ben, a 12- year mixed- race boy from Trinidad with his step- father and guardian, Frank; and Martha, the pregnant wife of Samuel, a merchant shipper from Jamaica, to his estate, Fairacres, for Edgar’s 50th birthday celebration. But a series of strange accidents keep happening to the different potential heirs, making both Daisy and Alec suspicious. Then, one of the four gets murdered.
Of course, Alec gets recruited to solve the mystery, though his superintendent refuses to give him credit for his lost vacation time. Eventually he succeeds in bringing in Tom Tring and Ernie Piper, his team, and they work together to solve the mystery.
One thing that is unique about this book and some, but by no means all, of the other Daisy Dalrymple books, is the fact that the murder doesn’t take place until the second half of the book. It is fun to see the thoughts of England and Fairacres from the perspectives of the various prospective claimants to the title of Viscount Dalrymple. The conclusion to the mystery provides satisfaction in addition.
One of my favorite things about the Daisy Dalrymple books is the lively characters. Daisy seems fun and delightful. Her extended family seen in Heirs of the Body come across as eccentric in some cases, villainous in others, and friendly in yet others. I really enjoyed getting to know Edgar and Geraldine, the current viscount and his wife, who seem more like real people than the last book that featured them, Damsel in Distress. Though we still have some trouble seeing Edgar as a school master, we see Geraldine as the ideal wife of someone of such a position. But we can always count on Edgar to provide comic relief with the butterflies or moths that he excitedly announces having seen, such as a ghost that he startles his guests with saying he just saw.
Lucy Rayner does a good job of portraying this book’s audio version. I was impressed with her pronunciation of South Africa, as we in America tend to emphasize the word South, but I have known several from that country, and they emphasize the Africa. Beyond this, Rayner uses effective voices and inflections, clearly sounding the laughter in Daisy’s voice when she finds something humorous. I did find her version of a Caribbean accent to fall short, as she sounded more like Rayner’s American accent.
I really had fun listening to Heirs of the Body. This book keeps the story moving and draws us into the plot. The characters add to the delight of the book, making me enjoy it all the more. I give this book five stars!
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