Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn

Anthem for Doomed Youth, unlike previous Daisy Dalrymple books, is not set in a great country house. Instead, it focuses on Alec Fletcher's work solving a triple murder. In the meantime, Daisy has gone to Belinda's school to watch her stepdaughter's sports day, a nice, peaceful occupation that turns nasty when one of Belinda's friends finds a body in the local maze--a body which may or may not be connected to Alec's case.

The book was a page-turner, much more so than prior Daisy books--I've enjoyed all of them, but they have not been quite this intense. I wanted to find out what happened.

On the other hand, and this feels a bit mean, that is precisely the point where I have some complaint. This was much more Alec's book than Daisy's. I like Alec, but it's Daisy who drew me to the series in the first place. In Anthem for Doomed Youth, Alec's  case takes up the majority of the text. He and his growing crew of associates--many of whom I admit to hoping show up again--are the focus. The tone is also much more serious than is usual in the Dalrymple books. Nothing that would  move it into the territory of the hard-boiled mystery, but definitely veering to the very outermost edges of "cozy," and maybe a bit past.

Daisy's part, on the other hand, came a distant second, and it is fortunate Mel and Sakari were introduced in previous books (Mel, in fact, was slightly out of character, I think).  With so much focus on Alec's side of things, the newly introduced characters and potential suspects in Daisy's side of  things were never really around long enough for me to quite care what became of them. The fact that Belinda cares for them is something, but not, in the end, enough to make that section compelling. There was also a coincidence that I find stretched things a bit too far.

This isn't exactly a list of things wrong. I did enjoy the book, quite a bit, give or take the odd coincidence, but it wasn't quite what I was anticipating when I picked it up. Whether that is a fair complaint, or even exactly a complaint at all, is an issue for another day and time.

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