The Corpse at the Crystal Palace by Carola Dunn

Carola Dunn continues to charm her readers with her depiction of the “Golden Age” of the 1920s, emphasizing the era’s social, artistic, and cultural dynamism as seen through the eyes of her protagonist, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher. Daisy, wife of Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of the Yard, is a freelance writer with a proclivity for mysteries and a tendency to stumble upon them, much to the chagrin of her husband.

The year is 1928 and for the ‘Bright Young Things’ from the aristocracy and wealthier classes, life had never been better. Nightclubs, jazz clubs and cocktail bars flourished in the cities.

The position of women was changing. All women over 21 were given the vote. Even so a patronising attitude toward women still existed and women were in some circles still regarded as the decorative appendages of men with no other purpose but to bear children.

It was the era of nurses and nannies, the child was not raised by the woman who gave birth to them, but by the hired help. Even the liberated Daisy Dalrymple was conflicted about her role as mother of her three year old twins. She describes the manner of the authoritarian Nanny, Mrs. Gilpin, to her friend, Lady Gerald, “She disapproves of parents visiting in the nursery whenever they please or taking the babies for walks.”

A day out to London’s Crystal Palace turns deadly when Daisy, step-daughter Belinda, her visiting cousins and Mrs Gilpin become embroiled in the mysterious death of a bogus nanny. Inexplicably Nanny Gilpin leaves the twins in the care of the nursery maid to go traipsing off after a nanny imposter. Mrs. Gilpin is found unconscious in a small lake and rescued by Belinda and the cousins. Our intrepid amateur detective, Daisy, ferrets out clues and sharing them with her husband much to his vexation.

The reader is lead on a merry chase in search of the resolution to this stimulating brainteaser in a tale that to some extent is reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence. All in all Carola Dunn’s “The Corpse at the Crystal Palace” is a thoroughly entertaining read.