Anthem for Doomed Youth - Carola Dunn In this novel, one of the latest installments in Carola Dunn’s delightful Daisy Dalrymple murder series, the author once again follows Daisy and her husband, Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard Alec Fletcher, on their murder investigation. Or rather two discrete investigations.
While Alec and his team pursue the murderer of three men, whose bodies have been found in the neighboring woods, Daisy tries not to meddle in the police business. She knows her husband’s boss disapproves of her snooping, so she tries really hard. It’s not her fault that she stumbles upon another dead body, unconnected to her husband’s case. Or so it seems at first glance.
The police searches for links between the three corpses, but the connection that emerges warps the case considerably: the Great War. It appears that all three dead men served in the same regiment at the same time. Whatever happened during their months of service in the horror-infested, muddy trenches of France has an impact on a score of lives in the peaceful England of 1926.
The author utilizes her profound knowledge of the 1920s to great effect. Her beloved old England, with plentiful charming and conflicting details, glimmers on the pages of the novel like a decorative frame for the leading character of the series, Daisy.
Compassionate Daisy. Loving Daisy. Bright Daisy. Insightful Daisy. The woman with a huge heart and a smile to match. The reader can’t help but fall in love with her.
In addition to being a cozy historical mystery, as all the other novels of the series, this one also has a strong philosophical aspect. Through the mind of her favorite heroine, Dunn contemplates the complex questions of cowardice and heroism, justice and revenge, ethics and forgiveness. The line between right and wrong has become blurred, much more so than in other books of the series, and every fact has two faces. It is as if Daisy had finally grown up and found the world full of gray instead her previously unambiguous black and white.
The terrors of war and the burdens and rewards of friendship get interlinked in this tale with the simple joys of Daisy's everyday life, her children and her friends.
To counterbalance the painful themes of war and death, one of Daisy’s friends, Sakari, an Indian woman of the high caste, provides a much needed comic relief. An avid student of the English language, Sakari relishes the numerous English idioms she learns in her classes, the idioms English speakers blurt without noticing but many foreigners find baffling. For example: “fire away” or “stay put,” “pop over” or “pick his brain.”
English vocabulary and its secrets have been a part of this series from the beginning, and this book continues the tradition, although in a rather unexpected direction.
An amusing and absorbing read. Recommended.