To Davy Jones Below  - Carola Dunn Like all Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, this book was a pleasure to read. Since I discovered the series, Carola Dunn has become one of my favorite ‘comfort’ authors: always reliable to bring a bit of excitement, intermittent explosions of giggles, and a spell of jolly tranquility. To paraphrase the protagonist of the series, Daisy, these novels are ‘Spiffing!’ I love the word.

A string of cozy British mysteries set in the 1920s, the entire series dabs in many grave themes, including class distinctions, women emancipation, and the past-war unraveling of the British society, but the emphasis is on Daisy and her amateur sleuthing.

Charming and kindhearted, Daisy has an unconventional penchant for stumbling upon dead bodies and embroidering herself in murder investigations. In this particular installment, Daisy has gotten married to her sweetheart from book one, Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, Alec Fletcher. Together, they board a trans-Atlantic ship to travel to America, where Alec has a temporary assignment: to consult J. Edgar Hoover on how to organize an honest, efficient police force in the US. Are you smiling yet?

The sea voyage commences in a sedate manner, making the first few chapters a tad dragging, until someone is pushed overboard, and the action starts rolling. Unfortunately, the weather worsens, and Alec, the ship's only tenant Scotland Yard, is laid low with sea sickness. Daisy doesn’t have a choice but to investigate in his stead. When another fatal accident occurs, the plot spirals into the convoluted serial murder territory without losing its common sense or its dry humor.

The language is yummy, sweet and piquant like a chocolate cake, while the pages are peppered with ironic jabs and occasional bits of sarcasm. I wanted to gobble it all up, although I have to admit that despite Dunn’s elusive simplicity, every time I read her novels I have to consult a dictionary; at least once or twice per novel.

One of my favorite quotes: “Her [Daisy’s] school had not considered Greek and Latin suitable for feeble female minds, but tales from the myths, properly bowdlerized, were staples.” Do you know what bowdlerized means. I didn’t.

Another quote reminded me of Georgette Heyer: “Daisy, normally the least high-nosed scion of the nobility, decided there was common and then there was common, and Mrs. Gotobed was really too, too frightfully vulgar.” You don’t get more delightfully British than that. You can almost hear Daisy’s accent.

Both she and her husband Alec, the protagonists of the series, are not static. Their personalities develop and their relationship matures from novel to novel, as their romance ambles through their murder cases.

Although each novel of the series is a stand-alone, you would enjoy them better if you read them in sequence, or at least an approximate sequence. In this novel, the newlyweds Daisy and Alec enjoy their working honeymoon, and Dunn managed to convey their coital bliss and their love for each other without resorting to bed scenes with ‘heat level’ ten or higher. Her treatment of sex is delicate and tactful, never blatant or prude.

Her depth of research is impressive as well. The novel takes place on a ship, and nautical references abound. But what puzzled me initially was the title. There is no character in the novel with the name Davy Jones. I didn’t know why Dunn saddled her tale with such a strange name until I googled ‘Davy Jones’ and learned that it means a drowned sailor. A fitting name, as it happens, as two victims drowned and one nearly drowned during that ill-fated ocean jaunt.

Although this novel might not be the best of the series, it’s a fair representative, and I’d recommended it, especially to those who like British cozies.