Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn

Following my recent review of the first book in the Daisy Dalrymple series, Death at Wentwater Court, I visited my local library and borrowed the most recent entry into the series, Anthem for Doomed Youth. Daisy is now happily married with children but clearly has been stumbling over dead bodies at regular intervals in the meantime. When her husband (DCI Alec Fletcher) is called to investigate three bodies found shot and buried over the course of a year in Epping Forest, he is determined that this time she can’t find a reason to “accidentally” get involved – but what could possibly link the three bodies?

LOOK. AT. THE. COVER. Or read the title, which, if you don’t know where it comes from, is handily reprinted in the foreword. Or read the blurb on the back of the book. Or wait for about half the actual book until they get round to it…

I feel that I’ve missed something by skipping over 20-odd books to get to this one. The idea was that as Death at Wentwater Court showed promise, I thought I’d try a later one that wouldn’t try the same kind of trick at the end, which, while interesting once, I was hoping wouldn’t be a regular thing. Given that there is a headline on the back of the book saying “Is a deranged lunatic killer stalking Daisy through the woods?”, I figured there was little chance of that.

A couple of points to make:

  • there isn’t a deranged lunatic in the book
  • no-one stalks Daisy.
  • Daisy doesn’t go to the woods.

I understand the need to pull people into buying the book but that’s just lying.

Secondly, Daisy has generated a supporting cast, notably her Indian friend Sakari, that I’m sure I’d have been more invested in had I read some of the earlier books. While it was nice to see the ineffective DI Gant being taken down a peg or two due to his preconceptions of an Indian woman in the early 1930s, I think I’d have been more interested with the chapters involving Daisy and co if I knew these characters better.

You see, at the start of the book, it effectively splits in two – Alec and his police colleagues (and ditto for those characters) investigating the murders (very slowly) and Daisy and chums at her step-daughter’s school sports day. After a while – too long in my opinion – a dead body turns up at the school. Could it be tied into Alec’s case? Well, yes, obviously.

I think I can sum up my opinions of this one with three problems that I had with it – it’s just as well written as the first (so I still respect that this is much more than the fluff being churned out by some other writers of cosy crime) but:

Problem 1: It repeats a theme of the ending of Death at Wentwater Court that I found irksome. If that was in every book, then I think I’d tear my hair out.

Problem 2: There is such a massive coincidence in this book – far more so that the two crimes being linked – that it beggars belief. Too much for me, I’m afraid. I can’t say any more about that without spoiling it, but dearie, dearie me.

Problem 3: And I think this is the crucial part – with not much going on and characters that I wasn’t particularly invested it and the murder plot taking an age to progress – I just found it rather boring. And that’s the worst possible problem with any sort of novel for me.

7 comments

  1. An excellent review, and although it is harsh, it is understandably so. I can’t for a moment imagine why the book would be so misleading as to its plot. It’s just as bad as trying to be cutesy with hints to the solution! (It doesn’t quite reach the atrocity of Four Square’s “Swan Song”, though, an atrocity I still haven’t forgiven them.)

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  2. I was aware that I was being a little blunt (I did write it before my resolution to be more positive in my reviews!) but there was such a sense of disappointment with this book. For whatever reason, I’m going to persevere with this series as it has a lot of potential, so I’ll be heading back to the second book in the series in the future. Fingers crossed.

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  3. This is the only Carola Dunn book I own. I found it for under three dollars at a used book shop. It appears to have been a review copy. Brand spanking new and untouched with the P.R. info still inside. I doubt if I will ever read it now. But to be fair the cover is compleetly different than your copy with Daisy in fornt of what looks like a hedge labyrinth.

    That ad for Intel beneath this review opens with a woman walking by the penguins and announcing “BORING!”

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  4. […] In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel Spoiler Free Reviews of Fair Play Detective Fiction Skip to content HomeAbout the authorEllery QueenPaul DohertyAmerotke, Chief Judge of ThebesHugh CorbettMathilde of WestminsterThe Ancient Rome MysteriesThe Canterbury TalesThe Memoirs of Sir Roger ShallotThe Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother AthelstanSir Henry Merrivale ← Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn […]

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