Carola Dunn’s Mistletoe and Murder is a charming and engaging mystery set in Cornwall in the 1920s. The novel follows the intrepid Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher as she and her family spend the Christmas holidays at Brockdene, the ancestral home of Lord Westmoor. However, things quickly turn sour when a member of the Norville family, who are poor relations of Lord Westmoor, is found murdered. With few clues to go on, Daisy and her husband, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, must navigate the intricate web of secrets, grudges, and resentments that exist within the family to uncover the truth.
One of the strengths of the novel is its vivid and atmospheric setting. Dunn does an excellent job of capturing the wintry beauty of Cornwall, as well as the eerie and foreboding atmosphere of Brockdene itself. The estate is depicted as a place steeped in history and tradition, with hidden passageways, ghost stories, and rumors of hidden treasure. This setting creates a sense of tension and unease that adds to the mystery and makes the eventual solution all the more satisfying.
Another strength of the novel is its cast of characters. The Norville family and their associates are all well-drawn and distinct, with their own quirks, secrets, and motivations. Dunn excels at creating believable and complex characters, each with their own desires and flaws. Daisy and Alec are also compelling characters, and their relationship adds an additional layer of intrigue to the story. Their dynamic as a detective and his writer wife is a unique and interesting aspect of the novel.
The mystery itself is well-crafted and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. There are enough red herrings, false leads, and suspects to keep the story engaging, and the eventual solution is both surprising and satisfying. Dunn does an excellent job of planting clues and foreshadowing without giving too much away, and the final revelation feels both logical and surprising.
One potential weakness of the novel is that it may feel a bit slow-paced for some readers. Dunn spends a lot of time setting up the characters and the setting, which may make the first half of the novel feel a bit slow. However, this attention to detail ultimately pays off in the second half of the novel when the mystery begins to unfold.
Overall, Mistletoe and Murder is a well-crafted and engaging mystery that will appeal to fans of classic detective stories. The vivid setting, well-drawn characters, and intriguing mystery all work together to create a satisfying and enjoyable read. You can grab a copy here.