GONE WEST: the latest Daisy Dalrymple mystery

Exclusive interview with author Carola Dunn and a review of her new novel, the 20th installment in the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series

 Rating: Three Stars

 By Gabrielle Pantera

Gone West author Carola Dunn didn’t realize until much later that the title of her book, the phrase, Gone West, means something quite different in Britain than America. “Gone West means in Britain died or disappeared,” says Dunn. “As with Daisy’s earlier adventure, Styx and Stones, the story built itself around the title. In the end, I put a note in the front of the book explaining the Brit-speak for American readers. Incidentally, Derbyshire is in the North Midlands, not the West of England.”

Gone West is the 20th book in the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series. The mystery starts later in the book so you get to know the characters in the story. Dunn’s insights into human nature and her description of life during 1920s England bring the book vividly to life. These books are light reading, wonderful for a cozy night at home.

Gone West is set in Derbyshire in the fall of 1926. The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher goes to Derbyshire to visit Sybil Sutherby, a former school chum and now secretary to novelist Humphrey Birtwhistle. When he takes ill Sybil asks Daisy to investigate. Humphrey has many family members living off his money and Sybil is secretly writing his novels for him while he recovers. Sales of the books increase.  Envy, resentment, jealousy, and long-held grudges hold sway, and Sybil’s forebodings turn out to be justified. Humphrey dies and Daisy needs to figure out who could killed him…and without making her Scotland Yard detective husband Alex Fletcher upset that she’s become enmeshed in yet another murder case.

“I decided to send Daisy, my main protagonist, to a house-party sort of setting, but with a difference,” says Dunn. “No grand stately home, no lords and ladies. The house party consists of the author’s family members, Sybil, and a couple unwanted guests. All, of course, at odds with each other.”

Dunn set the book near the town of Matlock. “I’ve been there, but briefly and long ago,” says Dunn. “I was researching Matlock on the web. I found that the present county offices are in a building that in Daisy’s time, the 1920s, was a hydropathic hotel [spa], a huge building that still dominates the hillside town. Amazingly, I found online the entire Visitors Handbook for the mid 1920s. It lists available services, including all sorts of horrific-sounding ‘baths’, as well as Galvanic and Faradaic treatments, which sound positively lethal. I’d have liked to kill someone with one of those, but unfortunately it wouldn’t fit into my story as it had developed by then.”

Dunn just finished writing Valley of the Shadow, the third in her Cornish mystery series. Working on two mystery series at once, Dunn says it’s a challenge dealing with two sets of characters and two time periods. “Slang from the ‘20s keeps trying to creep into my Cornish series, which is set around 1970.”

Valley of the Shadow will be released in December 2012. The first Cornish mystery, Manna from Hades, comes out in paperback at the same time. Dunn has started work on her next Daisy Dalrymple mystery, Heirs of the Body. Dunn is also making available her books as e-books. “I’m happy to say that after all sorts of complications, the first four Daisy books will soon be out as e-books,” says Dunn.

Carola Dunn will be signing books at the Art & the Vineyard in Eugene, Oregon, on July 8th from 1:30-7:30pm. She’ll be at the Lane County Fair in Oregon on August 16th and 18th from 1pm to 7pm. She’ll be at Bob’s Beach Books, in Lincoln City, Oregon, on August 25th, 11-2pm.

Gone West: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries) by Carola Dunn. Hardcover, 304 pages, Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition (January 17, 2012). Language: English, ISBN: 9780312675486 $ 24.99