Thursday, February 27, 2014

Carola Dunn. Fall of a Philanderer (2005)

     Carola Dunn. Fall of a Philanderer (2005) Charming, lightweight fluff, well plotted, well told, with main characters interesting and sympathetic enough to hold attention. The Hon. Daisy Dalrymple, now the well-married and pregnant Mrs Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, with happy step-daughter Belinda and her friend Deva, has taken rooms in a small village on the Devon coast while Alec finishes up a case. The local pub-owner, George Enderby, is not only a cad, but a cruel, unsociable bounder and bully. He’s taken advantage of the young landlady’s loneliness (her husband serves in the Navy), as well as of several young girls and dissatisfied wives. His marriage to the owner of the pub is of course rocky. He torments the local idiot, a mild-mannered mute. He’s clearly destined to die.
     Alec arrives, the family go on a picnic on the beach, and Alec finds Enderby’s body smashed up on the rocks below a high cliff. It looks like murder. Of course he is drawn into the case, and Daisy’s hunger for facts, her ability to engender trust, and her sympathy for several of the suspects makes her a valuable assistant. The denouement is a surprise almost to the end, but plausible. As with other novels in the series, this one has the feel of being severely edited to fit into a small book (under 300 pages of medium size print), so several promising subplots and their characters are perfunctory, cliched insertions. Pity; Dunn’s talent is for dialogue and the sardonic authorial aside, which together need more room. I’ve decided to find others in this series, but I won’t be collecting them, despite the temptation to do so. **½ (2011)

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