Fall of a Philanderer - Carola Dunn I’m a fan of this cozy mystery series and its protagonist, Daisy, a plucky young journalist and a daughter of a viscount in England of 1924. I’ve read almost all the novels of the series and I can say: this is one of the best. In this story, Daisy is on vacation in Devon. For the first (and only, I think) time in the series, she doesn’t discover a dead body; her husband Alec Fletcher, the Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, does by accident when he joins her for a short holiday.
Although the body doesn’t appear until chapter 7, the writer unflinchingly keeps the reader’s interest from line one. Little, seemingly inconsequential events spring up along the pages, the plot romps ahead like a playful colt, inciting smiles, and the atmosphere building through vivid descriptions – alternately idyllic and foreboding – is done by a master storyteller.
Thursday was another sunny day, but Friday brought a dank and dismal grey mist that left droplets beading everything it touched. Before dawn, Daisy’s dreams were haunted by the mournful howl of a foghorn.

Later the same morning:
Halfway back to Westcombe, they could see ahead a solid-looking mass of fog lying in wait, crouching between the hillsides, “Like a big grey cat waiting to pounce,” Belinda said.

Daisy is her usual charming self, warm-hearted but sensible. Around her revolves the multitude of secondary characters, all different, all living and breathing and possessing their unique quirks: the bevy of suspects, the local policemen, the denizens of the small seaside village. Some of them provide comic interludes so common to Dunn’s tales.
The village bobby Puckle, for example, has an edifying conversation with Alec shortly after the body was found. The author makes Puckle’s accent unmistakable but clear, unlike some less skillful writers. Alec, who had hoped to keep his Scotland Yard identity secret for this holiday, asks Puckle in frustration:
“But why should they think it was murder, not an accident?”
Puckle looked at him in surprise. “Acos of I told ’em you was here, sir. Stands to reason. If ’tweren’t murder, why would a detective chief inspector from the Yard be on the spot, like?”

The constable’s logic is irrefutable, albeit circular.
Another source of giggles is a medical student Vernon, assisting Alec in the investigation. Vernon is a fan of mystery novels, but Sherlock Holmes is not among his favorite fictional detectives. Instead he admires Dr. Thorndyke of R. Austin Freeman much more (a new name for me, I must admit). Alec says to him:
“I’m sure you would have made an apt pupil if he were not a fictional character.”
Unoffended, the medical student grinned. “Julia thinks I’m an absolute ass, but I do think I’d make a better pupil than Jervis. He’s definitely not too swift in the uptake. It seems to be the fashion to give the top detectives rather thick assistants. Look at Dr. Watson. And do you know this new chappie, the Belgian detective? Same thing—he has the bumbling Colonel Hastings to crow over.”

My sentiments precisely! I read this quaint little book very fast, I chuckled a lot, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I also learned a new concept: a ducking stool for scolds. Only Daisy would be so brazen as to introduce it to the modern day readers.
Overall, a delightful novel of mystery and mayhem in the post-WWI England.