Black Ship

Black Ship by Carola Dunn. Life is certainly changing for Daisy Dalrymple, daughter of a viscount and wife of Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher. Alec has inherited a house in Hampstead from a great-uncle which will provide considerably more room for the growing Fletcher family. But with the house comes a set of new neighbors on Constable Circle, including a wine merchant named Jessup and his two sons who have agreed to supply an American gang with booze in defiance of the Prohibition rules in effect in the 1920s. Though they are breaking no English laws, when a body is found next to the community’s fountain, Alec is given the difficult task of investigating his neighbors and their connection to the case. With her own dining room being used as a temporary on-site headquarters, Daisy has ample opportunity to gather information about the crime and make her own contributions towards its resolution.

Regular readers of this long-running series should have little trouble figuring out the final solution, especially since they are privy to the key clues much earlier than either Daisy or the police. Unlike the previous story in the series, there is less of a sense of danger threatening our heroine. Instead, there is a more detailed look at the way Alec and his comrades work to gather evidence and put the pieces together. The fluid domestic situation with the new house, servants, and neighbors combined with the description of the rum-running activity off the New England coast will keep readers interested and fans of the series will not be disappointed.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a growing number of “between the wars” mysteries with female leads, but I consider Dunn’s the best of the bunch. Other characters to consider include Barbara Cleverly’s Laetitia Talbot, Rhys Bowen’s Georgiana Rannoch, and Kerry Greenwood’s Phyrne Fisher.

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