The Three Dahlias #BookReview

One thing that I love about visiting the library is just spotting books on the shelves and picking them at random. I spotted The Three Dahlias on Friday and was attracted by the cover and then intrigued by the blurb. It seemed like the ideal book for a lazy Saturday evening and I’m very glad that I picked it up.

Dahlia Lively is a fictional detective who has featured in a long running series of books and the three Dahlias are the three actresses who have played her on screen. We have Rosalind who played her in two films on the big screen, Caro who played her in a long running TV series that covered all the books (think David Suchet and Poirot) and then we have Posy, a young ex-child star who has come out of rehab and is hoping that the new Dahlia film will kick start her adult acting career.

All three women find themselves at Aldermere, the stately home that was the home of Lettice, the author of the Dahlia books and where some of the books were set. They are there to attend the Dahlia festival, organised by the president of the Dahlia fan club. The producers of the new film are hoping to use the festival to promote the film and also get the family’s approval of the new script. As can be expected, there are tensions between the three women when they meet as the older two feel that they have rights to the character and Posy feels that she has something to prove.

The festival is underway but things are not running smoothly. A valuable item that belonged to the author and featured in the films is stolen and the three actresses discover that someone is trying to blackmail them. Then a murder occurs and the three women have to work together to solve the crime.

I really enjoyed this mystery. Dahlia, although fictional, is a real character who probably has more in common with Phrynne Fisher than Miss Marple and each chapter begins with a quotation from one of the books which gives us an idea of her personality. The three actresses who have played her are all very different but they complement each other and I enjoyed the way they gradually came to trust each other. I liked all of them but I think I was rooting most for Posy who was fighting for her career

The setting of Aldermere House is a very traditional English setting familiar to readers of Agatha Christie or viewers of Midsomer Murders and works perfectly as a setting for a murder mystery which has its roots in past events. The descriptions are detailed enabling the reader to get a clear picture and I especially liked the details about the China Room

I loved the idea of a fictional detective within a book and the way that the books were constantly being referenced made them feel as though they had actually been written. Having the three different women investigate the crime as if they actually were Dahlia gave the story an unusual twist. The mystery was cleverly plotted and I liked the resolution which I didn’t see coming at all. This is a great spin on a classic country house mystery and I would definitely recommend it.


Author: Janette

Recently retired Ex-Assistant Head of a large primary school in Leicestershire although I seem to be in school teaching quite a bit still.

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