Black Ship, Carola Dunn
I have enjoyed Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple series, set in 1920s England, but I haven't read any since 2009's The Bloody Tower, which I didn't enjoy as much as the earlier books. I realized that there are now three new books in the series that I haven't read, and I thought it was time to check in again with Daisy.
Black Ship is a fun, fast read. It centers on a house that Daisy's husband Alec Fletcher inherits in Hampstead (I had to get out my London map to check where Hampstead is). Actually, Alec inherits a ring of houses around a communal garden. Among the neighbors are the Jessup family, whose father and sons are in the wine and spirits trade, and possibly doing business with American customers looking to evade Prohibition's restrictions. There are sections of "sea interludes" scattered through the early chapters, featuring a young man named Patrick, traveling with rum runners along the U.S. coast. It isn't difficult to figure out his connection with the Jessups. After his return to London, a body is found the circle's communal garden, and finding his connection, and the motive for his murder, proves more difficult.
Though the body is discovered literally outside Alec's front door, he is still put in charge of the investigation. He naturally brings in his team, including DS Tring and DC Piper. Also naturally, Daisy becomes involved in the investigation, in part because of her friendship with the Jessup women. As usual, Daisy discovers evidence that she then debates sharing with Alec, based on her own idiosyncratic ideas of justice and fairness, as well as her sympathy for some of the suspects. Alec's superiors at Scotland Yard are understandably jaundiced about Daisy's constant involvement in his cases ("it must have been a shock for her, finding yet another body"). If they knew that she not only sits in on interviews and team meetings, but also withholds evidence from Alec, they would like have apoplexy. I just willingly suspend my disbelief and happily read on.
In addition to brewing endless cups of tea, Daisy's cook Mrs Dobson also bakes them flapjacks. I was only familiar with American flapjacks, but with a quick google search I discovered these are a kind of biscuit. I also found a recipe similar to Mrs Dobson's, so I can make some for afternoon tea.