The Bloody Tower - Carola Dunn A charming book.
The action takes place at the Tower of London, where Daisy, with her usual sweet penchant for making friends, conducts research for one of her articles. A Yeoman Warder is killed during her visit, and Daisy finds his body, as she does in every book of the series. Then she steps back and lets her husband, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard Alec Fletcher, take the centre stage.
While Daisy keeps to the periphery of the investigation, Alec faces an intellectual puzzle: a traditional cozy British whodunit, my favorite kind. No chases, no thrilling danger for the heroes, and the number of suspects is limited, as the murder happened at night, when the Tower was locked. Nobody could get in or out.
The gloomy, foggy atmosphere of the old royal fortress, where every cobblestone breathes a legend, and every inch of the wall has its own resident ghost, provides a perfect setting for a murder mystery. The historical horrors and the contemporary ones (contemporary for Daisy anyway – the year is 1925, and the memory of the WWI is still graphic and extremely painful) juxtapose in this story to the readers’ immense satisfaction.
The plot is quick and elegant, the descriptions of the Tower, its architecture, and its inhabitants vivid, and the tangle of motives and means challenging. A number of old friends, characters from the previous novels, enrich the tale too. And although I guessed some angles of the crime early on, I didn’t realize who the culprit was until pretty late in the tale, almost as late as Alec Fletcher figured it out.
Several quirky aspects of the novel held my particular interest. One: the story delved deeply into the history of the Tower. Two: it also shed light on the Warders and their centuries-old traditions. Three: the novel boasted multiple poetic references. Everyone recited poetry in this book, and I learned a couple of wonderful poems I didn’t know before. I also learned a new expression: a ‘dope fiend.’ Obviously that was how drug addicts were called in the 1920s in England.
All in all, a delightful read.