Alice Feeney continues her impressive string of unpredictable suspense novels with the unforgettable Daisy Darker. Readers who have read Sometimes I Lie, His & Hers, or Rock Paper Scissors will already anticipate how impossible it is to predict what Alice Feeney is presenting next, but one thing is certain, they know it is going to be a wild and satisfying ride. Whatever readers are anticipating, Daisy Darker is sure to meet – and likely exceed – those expectations by a country mile.
For an author who has produced some of the most iconic and original crime fiction plots of the last few years, it may surprise readers to find that with Daisy Darker, Alice Feeney is paying homage to a true legend – Dame Agatha Christie. While mystery aficionados will immediately be able to identify the source inspiration, rest assured that Alice Feeney is far from presenting an inferior knock-off and instead has taken the bare bones of And Then There Were None as a launching off point to introduce readers to a very, very odd family. The Darkers are quite unlike anyone you have ever – or ever wish – to meet.
As the Darker clan gathers to celebrate Nana’s eightieth birthday at Seaglass, a crumbling gothic manor situated on a tidal island, family tensions will bubble to the surface like the odious concoctions of century-old witches. Shortly after arriving, the family residence will be cut off from civilization for nine full hours and by the time the tide recedes, nothing will be the same.
Why, you ask? Because at midnight the first body will be found. Followed by another, and another, and another…making it clear to all those on the island that nobody is safe from the sins of the past. Each body is found with a poem, the couplets of which provide clues to both the true nature of the victim and possible hints at who the perpetrator may be. But can anyone figure it all out in time?
On the island are: Beatrice “Nana” Darker, a celebrated children’s book author and illustrator who is not above using her family as inspiration; Frank, her son, and Nancy, his ex-wife, both of whom are thinking that the weekend might include a reading of Nana’s last will and testament; Rose, Lily, and Daisy, their three daughters named after flowers but with personalities that range from sweet to thorny; Trixie, Lily’s quiet and contemplative daughter; and Conor, the neighbor and handyman who feels like part of the family, despite being from a very different social status.
Readers will anticipate the significance of Daisy from the start. Hello, the book is named after her! Daisy is our narrator, the gateway into this very strange family dynamic. Her unusual childhood – which readers glimpse via flashback – is so interesting that some readers may wish that it were the primary story being told, but rest assured that there is a reason Alice Feeney has structured the novel the way she has.
Alice Feeney loves a twist – as do her fans – and Daisy Darker has several really strong ones. While none of them is quite as surprising as those this author has deployed in earlier books, the connected string of repeated reveals foisted upon the reader in short order near the climax of the novel results in a feeling of excitement and satisfaction.
Daisy Darker extends Alice Feeney’s run of truly exceptional and original crime fiction suspense novels. She is an author who is on the cutting edge of her field with fresh ideas that also harken back to the golden age of the genre in ways that make them comfort reads.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.