While out motoring, Daisy's friend, the Honourable Philip Petrie, meets American, Miss Gloria Arbuckle and her millionaire father, and falls head-over-heels in love with Gloria. Unfortunately, it's not long before Gloria is kidnapped. Her father doesn't want to involve the police so Philip enlists Daisy to help her find his love. It seems Gloria is being held close to where Daisy was brought up so Daisy invites herself to stay at her old home, now lived in by her cousin and his wife, but she can't tell them what's going on. She manages also to invite several trusted friends to the house to help her in her search. Her boyfriend, Alec, is of course a Scotland Yard detective, so Daisy can't tell him either. Things are very complicated and get even more so when Daisy at last finds where Gloria is being held and ends up being held captive herself...
Daisy has been asked to cover The Henley Regatta by an American magazine. She goes to stay with an aunt, her mother's sister, and their family, the son of whom is rowing in the Oxford team. In fact, the house is full of rowers and Daisy shares a room with her younger cousin who is in love with a member of the team. Two other team members are at logger-heads. Horace Bott is a scholarship student, a shopkeeper's son, and looked down on by the others because his background is so humble. Worst of his tormentors is Basil DeLancy, an arrogant young man that no one really cares for. DeLancy publicly humiliates Bott and Bott swears revenge. When DeLancy keels over, dead, in the middle of a race it seems Bott has kept his promise. But Daisy is not at all convinced. Alec arrives, thinking he and Daisy are going to spend a delightful weekend together. Instead, he finds himself embroiled in yet another murder investigation involving Daisy and he is not best pleased...
It's an unbearably hot summer, Daisy, lunching with her brother-in-law, John Frobisher, feels there is something bothering him. Eventually he tells her why he's invited her to lunch: he needs her help. He's been the victim of a poison-pen crusade... on coming back from the trenches a few years ago, his wife being away, he spent the night with a female neighbour. Daisy goes to stay with her sister's family in Kent, taking Belinda, her fiance's 10 year old daughter. Her sister, Violet, has a boy of the same age, Derek, and Daisy feels the holiday will do Belinda good, and she can investigate further at the same time. Daisy soon discovers that John is not the only recipient of these vile letters; half the village seems to fallen victim. But who could be writing them? There are so many suspects that Daisy is thoroughly confused. Things come to a head when Daisy finds a body in the graveyard while the children are in the vicinity. Alec, Daisy's fiance, finds out what's happening and heads down to Kent, thoroughly alarmed and worried about his daughter. Daisy, on the other hand, has more than enough problems to cope with... chief of which is finding herself, for the first time, a suspect in a a murder case.
Well now, I've gone from 'liking' these Daisy Dalrymple books, after I'd read the first three or four, to loving them now I've gone as far as book seven. Possibly the author is now into her stride, I don't know. They certainly seem more accomplished, a bit deeper somehow. I think the thing I really like about them though, well two things... the first is the humour and the second is the relationship - the romance if you like - between Daisy and her Scotland yard detective, Alec Fletcher. It's complicated by the fact that she's upper-class, an 'honourable', being the daughter of a lord. Of course, to her that makes no difference, partly because she isn't in the least bit snobby, but also because she has to earn a living after her father died and the house and title went to a cousin, her brother having died in The Great War. Alec is middle-class, a highly respected detective, and doesn't actually feel the difference in their stations acutely... only slightly. He's shocked, for instance, to discover the size of the house she grew up in, isn't always impressed with the kind of men the upper-classes seem to produce etc. It all adds an extra bit of frission to the relationship. And it's very interesting. Add to that Daisy's propensity for falling over dead bodies, which he tries to be tolerant about but doesn't always manage:
'Daisy, how is it you keep falling over dead bodies? Do people see you coming and promptly decide to do someone in?'
In the final book here, Styx and Stones, Daisy has Belinda, his daughter, with her when the body is found and Alec is furious that Daisy took her to Kent knowing things might get dangerous. That made for one or two interesting scenes which I won't go into, but were thoroughly enjoyed by the romantic in me.
As I said, the books have become far more interesting than they were at the beginning and, for me anyway, I find once I start one, I can't put it down. I'm up to book seven and there are now twenty I think, so I'm quite happy that I still have loads more of this thoroughly charming series to read.