Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple Series #21)
  • Alternative view 1 of Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple Series #21)
  • Alternative view 2 of Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple Series #21)
  • Alternative view 3 of Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple Series #21)
<Previous >Next

Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple Series #21)

4.5 2
by Carola Dunn

View All Available Formats & Editions

The Daisy Dalrymple series continues in Heirs of the Body—when one of four potential claimants to the title of Lord Dalrymple dies a sudden, nasty death, the question on everyone's mind is, "was it murder"?

In the late 1920's in England, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher is recruited to help her cousin Edgar—i.e. the Lord Dalrymple.


The Daisy Dalrymple series continues in Heirs of the Body—when one of four potential claimants to the title of Lord Dalrymple dies a sudden, nasty death, the question on everyone's mind is, "was it murder"?

In the late 1920's in England, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher is recruited to help her cousin Edgar—i.e. the Lord Dalrymple. About to turn fifty, Lord Dalrymple decides it is time to find out who would be the heir to the viscountcy. With the help of the family lawyer, who advertises Empire-wide, they have come up with four potential claimants. For his fiftieth birthday, Edgar invites those would-be heirs—along with Daisy and the rest of the family—to Fairacres, the family estate.

In the meantime, Daisy is asked to be the family's representative at the lawyer's interviews with the claimants. Those four are a hotelier from Scarborough, a diamond merchant from South Africa, a young mixed-raced boy from Trinidad, and a sailor from Jamaica. However, according to his very pregnant wife, the sailor has gone missing.

Daisy and Alec must uncover a conspiracy if they are going to stop the killing in the latest from the accomplished master of the genre, Carola Dunn.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1927, Dunn’s entertaining 21st Daisy Dalrymple mystery (after 2012’s Gone West) takes Daisy to her childhood home, Fairacres, in Worcestershire. Daisy’s cousin, Lord Dalrymple, needs her help vetting candidates for designation as heir apparent to his title and estate. A number of claimants from the far corners of the British Empire, including a South African diamond merchant and a Jamaican sailor, gather at Fairacres, where drawing-room manners clash with colonial informality and ignorance, much to Daisy’s mother’s dismay. When strange accidents begin to happen, Daisy and her Scotland Yard inspector husband, Alec Fletcher, suspect that one of the candidates will go to great lengths to establish his right of inheritance—perhaps as far as murder. Daisy and Alec must do their utmost to discover a possible killer and protect the innocent as well as the legitimate heir. Fans of Downtown Abbey will be delighted. Agent: Alice Volpe, Northwest Literary Agency. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

“A treat for Daisy's fans as well as those who enjoy Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs.” —Booklist on Gone West

“Dunn adds another winner to a long string of charming mysteries evocative of the period between the Great Wars.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred) on Gone West

“A cozy replete with the amenities of English country life.” —Publishers Weekly on Gone West

“Dunn writes enchantingly of 1920s England: its period accoutrements of cars, cocktails, and the always delightful Daisy.” —Mystery Scene on Sheer Folly

Kirkus Reviews
In 1920s England, a family mystery offers the aristocratic wife of a police officer new scope for her sleuthing. The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher's family is currently headed by her childless cousin Edgar, Lord Dalrymple, a former schoolmaster with a passion for butterflies and moths. Upon the death of Daisy's father and brother, Edgar inherited the title and estates. Now, he's trying to find the male heir who will eventually succeed him. After advertising worldwide, the family lawyer has come up with a list of possible claimants, all descended from one man, and gives the ever-inquisitive Daisy permission to sit in on the interviews. The four possible heirs are a South African diamond merchant, a Scarborough hotelier with a French connection, a mixed-race boy from Trinidad, and a Jamaican sailor whose pregnant wife has come to England to forward his claim since he is currently not to be found. All the prospective heirs are invited to join Daisy, her husband, Scotland Yard detective Alec Fletcher, their children and other relatives at Fairacres to celebrate Edgar's 50th birthday. A series of unsettling incidents reaches a climax with the death of one of the possible heirs. Was it accident or murder? The lucky sailor arrives just in time to come under suspicion, leaving Daisy and Alec to discover which of the claimants is the true heir and which is willing to kill to forward his claim. Perhaps not the strongest of Daisy's period mysteries (Gone West, 2012, etc.), but another charming valentine for fans of classic British mysteries.
Library Journal
Lord Dalrymple is turning 50 and needs Daisy's help figuring out the family tree. Some disreputable characters come out of the woodwork hoping to claim rights as heirs. Dunn is up to number 21 in her witty historical cozy series (after Gone West).

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Daisy Dalrymple Series , #21
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

“Darling, what on earth are ‘heirs of the body’?” Daisy enquired, frowning at the wad of blue Basildon Bond writing paper in her hand. She had been busy all day and was only now, after dinner, opening the afternoon post.
“Postmortem effluvia?”
“Coroners?” Without looking up from the Evening Standard, Alec reached for his whisky, an indulgence usually reserved for celebrating the end of a big investigation. “Undertakers? Worms?”
“Ugh, Daddy, that’s disgusting!” Belinda’s Easter holidays had started just a couple of days earlier, and her father was apt to forget to mind his tongue in her presence.
“What, worms? Just think, if they didn’t do their work we’d be up to our necks in bodies.”
“Alec, really! In any case, ‘heirs’ is the important word here. Cousin Edgar’s coming up to his fiftieth birthday and apparently it dawned on him a few months ago that he hasn’t the faintest idea who is heir to the title and Fairacres.”
“Your letter’s from Lord Dalrymple?”
“No, Cousin Geraldine. She’s frightfully scathing about ‘heirs of the body,’ but I can’t make out why.”
“It’d be because she and Lord Dalrymple have no children. It’s just a legal term for legitimate offspring, and their legitimate offspring, ad infinitum.”
Daisy cast an anxious glance at her stepdaughter.
“It’s all right, Mummy,” Bel said indulgently. “I know what legitimate means, and illegitimate. It’s whether the mother and father are married or not.”
How did children find out such things? Daisy wondered. She was sure she hadn’t been aware at the age of thirteen that procreation without matrimony was even possible. Times had changed between 1911 and 1927!
“I read it in a book.” Bel answered her unvoiced question. “And looked it up in the dictionary.”
“Well, darling, I’m glad you’re using your dictionary. But I was rather hoping you didn’t know what it means.”
“Oh, Mummy, how positively Victorian!”
Since Daisy frequently decried the persistent influence of Victorian attitudes in older generations, she was left speechless.
Alec had set aside his paper to fill his pipe. Now, between the vigorous puffs required to get it burning, he said, “I’m not really up in all that stuff, but the ‘body’ bit must mean that step- or adopted children don’t count. And the original entail, or patent, or will, or whatever must have specified heirs male of the body. Otherwise, your brother having died, love, I think your sister’s eldest son would have inherited the estate and title from your father. Or perhaps Violet first, and then Derek. But don’t quote me on that.”
“Derek?” said Bel. “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun if he was Lord Dalrymple!”
“A new law was passed just last year, though, and I’m not sure what effect it has in a situation like this.”
“Tommy Pearson must know.”
“He’s your cousin’s solicitor?”
“Yes. Cousin Edgar always felt Father’s lawyer—the old family firm since forever—condescended to him because he’d been a schoolmaster, not brought up to his new station in life. He was very impressed with Tommy’s part in that kidnapping business.… You didn’t hear that, Bel.”
“I think I’d better go and read in bed,” said Belinda with dignity, “if you’re going to keep talking about things I’m not supposed to hear.”
“Heavens yes, it’s after ten. Past your bedtime.”
Belinda kissed each of them goodnight, then said, “Mummy, may I go and see the twins? Just a peek?”
“Of course, darling. You don’t need to ask. Quiet as a mouse, though.”
“I know. I just like to ask in case Nurse Gilpin catches me. She can’t fuss if you’ve said yes, can she?”
Alec grinned. “I wouldn’t count on it. Every victory over Mrs. Gilpin is temporary.”
“I don’t care much if she does fuss. They’re my brother and sister, after all. Daddy, is Oliver your ‘heir male of the body’?”
“He would be if I had a title, pet, but you can’t inherit a job with the Metropolitan Police. As it is, you’re all my heirs.”
Daisy was not prepared to go into the business of a father’s part in the bodily side of parenthood. “Run along and tackle Nurse, now, darling,” she said firmly.
Looking determined, Belinda left the room.
Daisy sighed. Sometimes life seemed to be a perpetual battle with Oliver and Miranda’s nanny, whose Victorian attitude dictated that parents had no business in the nursery.
She returned to consideration of Lady Dalrymple’s news. However unrewarding, it was bound to be infinitely preferable to the letter that had lurked beneath it in the pile, from Daisy’s mother, the dowager viscountess.
“I’m surprised Pearson didn’t find out who the present heir is when he took over.” Alec poked disgustedly at the bowl of his pipe with a used matchstick, then reached for the matchbox and started the flare-puff routine again.
“It may not have crossed his mind. Cousin Edgar probably has a perfectly sound will leaving everything to his wife, and Tommy doesn’t go in for aristocratic clients. In fact, I think he does his best to avoid them, because of Madge being Lady Margaret. She told me he’s too independent to want to take advantage of her family connections.”
“I expect all he really wants is to avoid the complications of entailed estates.”
“I wouldn’t blame him,” said Daisy, trying to make out what Cousin Geraldine was going on about. Her writing was the kind that looks very neat but is difficult to decipher. “Oh, she’s complaining about the Dalrymples not being prolific in the production of sons. What cheek, when she hasn’t produced a single heir of the body herself, male or female. Besides, it worked to her advantage. If I’d had lots of brothers, she wouldn’t be a viscountess.”
“What exactly is Edgar’s relationship to you?”
“I’ve never worked it out.” Daisy had next to no interest in the ramifications of aristocratic family trees, unlike her friend Lucy. Possibly as a result, Lucy had married the younger son of a marquis and was now Lady Gerald Bincombe, whereas Daisy had married a Scotland Yard detective. “Some sort of second cousin, I think. Or third. Once removed, I’m pretty sure of that. Geraldine says they’re having to go back to my great-great-grandfather’s descendents now. That would be my great-grandfather’s brothers, I suppose.”
“Great Scott! They must have been born about—let’s see—1800, or so.” Smoke spiralled up and Alec sat back contentedly.
“The second brother was Edgar’s grandfather. Apparently the third never married. The fourth and youngest got a governess into trouble and was shipped off to the West Indies—at least, that’s the family legend.”
“Not one either your father or your mother would pass on to you.”
“How right you are. Gervaise told me.” And Gervaise had gone off to war when she was sixteen, so perhaps she had known about unmarried mothers when she was thirteen. “According to the story, the black sheep wrote to his mother when he married, but when he and his bride were not welcomed home with open arms, he was never heard from directly again. A trickle of news came in from travellers. Rumour reported that he had a large family living on the edge of respectability.”
“Who were not listed in the family bible, I take it.”
“I can’t say I ever looked, but I suppose not, or Edgar wouldn’t be having so much trouble now. My—let’s see—my grandfather also had a lot of children, a typical Victorian family, so they must have assumed the direct line was well assured. Geraldine says Tommy started the search by hiring someone to go through all the musty old papers in the muniments room. Oh, I think this says—”
“Is there an end to this story, Daisy?”
“Aren’t you itching to make the acquaintance of all the skeletons in my family’s cupboards?”
“’Fraid not.”
“Geraldine does go on a bit. Six pages! Let me see if I can find…” She skimmed through the rest, picking out phrases here and there. “Advertised in newspapers throughout the Empire.… Three claimants responded already—Good heavens! They’ll be at each other’s throats—Tommy thinks—No! She can’t be serious. Or am I misreading?…” She went back to the beginning of the sentence and pored over it word by word.
“‘No’ what?” Alec’s attention was caught.
“I don’t believe it! She wants me to be present when Tommy interviews the would-be heirs. Tommy wanted Edgar, as head of the family, but Geraldine says he’d be completely useless.”
“I’d agree with her there. Unless one of them turns out to be a fellow lepidopterist, in which case he’d be biased in his favour.”
“And Geraldine herself is not a member of the family by birth.”
“What about your mother—No, the same applies. Though I hardly think she’d appreciate anyone reminding her of the fact.”
Daisy giggled. “Darling, can you imagine either of them in attendance? The poor heirs would turn tail and decide the game wasn’t worth the candle.”
“Your sister? No, I suppose not.”
“I doubt if she’s ever spoken to a solicitor in her life. If Tommy really considers it necessary, I’ll do it.”
“Come off it, love. Don’t try to tell me you’re not dying to listen in.”
“It might be interesting. And, you never know,” she added persuasively, “I might spot something proving one of the claimants is a fake.”
“I presume that’s why Pearson would like a family member present. Don’t worry, I shan’t try to stop you, if he’s agreeable. In fact, I’d bet he approached Edgar first only as a matter of etiquette and he was really angling for you all along.”
Such a vote of confidence deserved a kiss, which Daisy duly bestowed. The rest of Geraldine’s screed and the dowager’s letter did not get read that evening.

Copyright © 2013 by Carola Dunn

Meet the Author

CAROLA DUNN is the author of many previous mysteries featuring Daisy Dalrymple, including Sheer Folly, Gone West and Heirs to the Body, as well as numerous historical novels. Born and raised in England, she lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Heirs of the Body 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this . Love these characters.