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19 April 2016

Rambling About.. Carola Dunn's Murder on the Flying Scotsman

Title: Murder on the Flying Scotsman
Author: Carola Dunn
Publication: January 1997 -- St. Martin's Press
Amazon Description: 
Daisy's in danger of heading off the rails! -- It is the spring of 1923 and the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple is on her way to a stately home in Scotland to research her next article for Town and Country. On board the Flying Scotsman, the famous London-to-Edinburgh train, Daisy meets an old schoolfellow, Anne Bretton. Anne, along with all of her relatives, is en route to visit the deathbed of the family scion and notorious miser, Alistair McGowan. As it currently stands, Alistair's will leaves the entire family fortune to his brother Albert, and the rest of the family is rushing to his side, each hoping to convince him to change his will in their favor. -- Daisy, meanwhile, has her hands full taking care of Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher's young daughter Belinda, who ran away from home and stowed away aboard the train. She barely has time to take notice of the intricate family feud taking place all around her--that is, until Albert McGowan is found murdered on the train and Daisy is surrounded by an entire family of suspects.

First Lines (Preface): 'A month, hey, Doctor?' 'I'll no g' ye more than five weeks, Mr. McGowan, nor promise the end willna come sooner.'

First Lines (Chapter 1): The vast vault of King's Cross Station echoed and re-echoed to the thunder of pneumatic hammers. The air was thick with dust. Daisy tucked her extravagant first-class ticket into her handbag, hitched up the camera's strap securley on her shoulder, stuck her fingers in her ears,and looked about her.

Favorite on 4s:
4%: 'What am I to do with you, for pity's sake?' Daisy's eye wandered to the emergency brake pull above the window. She had always wanted an excuse to yank down that red chain.
24%: His pale blue eyes were wide open, staring at her. But she could tell he didn't see her.
54%: 'You won't go away, will you? Belinda asked in a quavery voice.   'No, I'll be right here.'   'Even when I'm asleep?'
74%: 'Hold on! This is a flight of sheer fancy, a house of cards. All we have to go on are a few words misheard by a child, addressed to we know not whom.'

Ramble: I love it when a book is good enough that I'll lose sleep in order to finish it. Not that I actually like losing precious sleep time, of course ... but sometimes it's worth it.
Daisy is on her way to Edinburgh on the Flying Scotsman express train for work. While at King's Cross she runs into Anne, a girl she had known at school, who is there with the vast majority of her family tree. They're heading up to see the dying patriarch of the family in hopes of persuading him to change his will. He's an ornery old man who isn't at all keen on handing money over to anyone for anything. His twin brother, Albert McGowan, is also on the train and is also an ornery old man with heaps of money but he doesn't at all mind giving to those he deems worthy -- which doesn't include any of his relatives. Worthy individuals would be his valet, Weekes, and a young Indian doctor named Chandra Jagai. Anne's family hopes that they can convince Albert to talk to his brother -- and to possibly change his own will since he'd be the one to inherit everything should his brother die first.
An unexpected passenger on the Flying Scotsman is Belinda Fletcher -- Alec's daughter who is not quite 10 years old. Her father is up north working a case and she has run away from her grandmother's care when she was forbidden to spend time with a school friend of hers over the Easter holidays. Her friend is from India and the elder Mrs Fletcher doesn't approve. She also doesn't approve of Daisy and her "friendship" with Alec... or with the fact that Daisy has a job and doesn't just get by with being an "Honourable." Belinda, however, thinks that Daisy is spiffing and when she finds out that Daisy is headed in the general direction of where her father is, she jumps on the train.
Anne's family is quite large and all over the place. Daisy and Belinda's train compartment is in the midst of all of theirs so they end up, quite naturally, being caught in the middle of all their comings and goings. Belinda befriends a few of the party -- including cranky old Albert and his surrogate son of sorts, Dr Jagai. Albert even gives her a travelling board game that he had had made in India and invites her back to his compartment for tea later. She isn't sure she wants to go because of all the arguing she has heard coming from there, but does so because she promised. Unfortunately, when she enters the compartment she finds him dead. Daisy pulls the emergency stop on the train, requests that Alec be called in, and the whole group is ushered to an inn nearby while the investigation can take place. Albert hadn't necessarily died in his sleep. Weekes, Jagai and Daisy suspect he was murdered.
Alec, Tring and Piper, luckily, had just wrapped up their other case so one the scene rather quickly. It was lovely to see Alec in his role as worried father and to see how maternally Daisy took to Belinda. The murder investigation plot kept me guessing right along with them but, being a big fan of Alec and Daisy that storyline trumped the actual mystery for me. The twists and turns kept me going and I'm so thankful that I've pre-scheduled at least a couple more from the series for upcoming months!

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