Dunn, Carola 1946-

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Dunn, Carola 1946-

PERSONAL:

Born 1946, in London, England; immigrated to the United States, 1968; daughter of Max Wilhelm (an engineer) and Margaret (a social worker) Brauer; married Denis J. Dunn (a structural engineer), December 15, 1969; children: Joseph. Education: Victoria University of Manchester, B.A., 1967; also took a secretarial course at Oxford Tech. Hobbies and other interests: Classical music (singing alto in a local chorus and playing soprano and alto recorder with a quintet), gardening, reading, eating and reading about it ("but I hate cooking, except occasional baking"), walking.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Northwest Literary Agency, 4500 108th Ave. NE, Kirkland, WA 98033. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Has worked as a secretary, sales clerk, bookkeeper, market research interviewer, construction worker, and building designer.

WRITINGS:

"REGENCY ROMANCE" HISTORICAL NOVELS

Toblethorpe Manor, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Lavender Lady, Walker (New York, NY), 1983.

Angel, Walker (New York, NY), 1984.

The Miser's Sister, Walker (New York, NY), 1984.

Lord Iverbrook's Heir, Walker (New York, NY), 1986.

The Man in the Green Coat, Walker (New York, NY), 1987.

Smugglers' Summer, Walker (New York, NY), 1987.

Miss Hartwell's Dilemma, Walker (New York, NY), 1988.

Two Corinthians (sequel to Miss Hartwell's Dilemma,), Walker (New York, NY), 1989.

The Black Sheep's Daughter, Walker (New York, NY), 1989

Lady in the Briars (sequel to The Black Sheep's Daughter), Walker (New York, NY), 1990.

A Susceptible Gentleman, Walker (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004.

A Poor Relation, Walker (New York, NY), 1990.

Polly and the Prince (sequel to Lady in the Briars), Walker (New York, NY), 1991.

Byron's Child, Walker (New York, NY), 1991.

The Fortune Hunters, Walker (New York, NY), 1991.

A Lord for Miss Larkin, Walker (New York, NY), 1991.

The Road to Gretna (sequel to A Lord for Miss Larkin), Walker (New York, NY), 1992.

Miss Jacobson's Journey, Walker (New York, NY), 1992.

The Frog Earl, Walker (New York, NY), 1992.

My Lord Winter, Walker (New York, NY), 1992.

Thea's Marquis (sequel to The Road to Gretna), Walker (New York, NY), 1993.

Ginnie Come Lately, Walker (New York, NY), 1993.

His Lordship's Reward (sequel to Miss Jacobson's Journey), Walker (New York, NY), 1994.

The Captain's Inheritance (sequel to His Lordship's Reward), Walker (New York, NY), 1994.

The Lady and the Rake, Walker (New York, NY), 1995.

The Tudor Secret, Walker (New York, NY), 1995.

Scandal's Daughter, Walker (New York, NY), 1996.

The Babe and the Baron, Walker (New York, NY), 1997.

Mayhem and Miranda, Walker (New York, NY), 1997.

The Improper Governess, Walker (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Karla Hocker and Judith A. Lansdowne) Once upon a Time, Kensington (New York, NY), 1998.

Crossed Quills, G.K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 1998.

(With Mona Gedney and Valerie King) Snowflake Kittens, Kensington (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Karla Hocker and Judith A. Lansdowne) Once upon a Waltz, Zebra (New York, NY), 2001.

Also contributor to numerous anthologies, including A Regency Valentine, A Christmas Courtship, A Winter Wedding, and Wonderful and Wicked.

"DAISY DALRYMPLE" MYSTERY SERIES

Death at Wentwater Court, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

The Winter Garden Mystery, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Requiem for a Mezzo, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Damsel in Distress, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Murder on the Flying Scotsman, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Dead in the Water, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Styx and Stones, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Rattle His Bones, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

To Davy Jones Below, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.

The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.

Mistletoe and Murder, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.

Die Laughing, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.

A Mourning Wedding, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.

Fall of a Philanderer, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.

Gunpowder Plot, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.

The Bloody Tower, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.

Black Ship, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2008.

Also contributor of Daisy Dalrymple short stories to anthologies, including Crime through Time and Malice Domestic VII.

SIDELIGHTS:

Among Carola Dunn's published works is a collection of historical romance novels and a mystery series featuring a 1920s British journalist. In Dunn's "lively mystery debut," stated a Publishers Weekly review of Death at Wentwater Court, series protagonist Daisy Dalrymple visits the Wentwater family around Christmas. During her stay, an uninvited guest dies and Daisy suggests it was a murder. Eventually, she "identifies the murderer … and secures the possibility of romance in the future." Kidnapping and ransom occupy Daisy's mind in the fifth installment of the series, Damsel in Distress. Here, Daisy devises a plan to locate her friend's girlfriend without police involvement and before the kidnapped woman's wealthy father pays the ransom demanded. "Mysteries don't get much campier than this, but Dunn's style gives an entertaining spark to the light plot," concluded a Publishers Weekly critic. Styx and Stones finds Daisy investigating "a series of poison pen letters," according to another Publishers Weekly critic, that have been sent to her brother-in-law as well as several villagers from an unknown writer. After a murder is committed, police also become involved in the case. The Publishers Weekly critic maintained: "While light in tone, her newest adventure, like the others in this series, offers enough tart wit to engage the seasoned mystery reader." Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett called the book "a pleasant historical."

The "Daisy Dalrymple" mysteries have continued into the twenty-first century with such titles as To Davy Jones Below, The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, Mistletoe and Murder, and Fall of a Philanderer. With To Davy Jones Below, Daisy has married Scotland Yard Inspector Alec Fletcher. Naturally, their sailing honeymoon becomes an opportunity for crime solving when another honeymooning couple is murdered in what Jenny McLarin described in a Booklist review as a "routinely enjoyable entry in a lightweight but pleasant-enough historical series." "Fans of light historical whodunits should be well pleased," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Continuing their honeymoon in New York, the newlyweds work to solve the murder of a journalist in The Case of the Murdered Muckraker.

As their first Christmas together approaches, Daisy and Alec visit the Brockdene estate of Lord Westmoor's clan in Mistletoe and Murder. When a clergyman is killed, the motive seems likely to be a dispute over succession to the family's fortunes, and Alec and Daisy break off their vacation to solve the mystery. As with Dunn's other mysteries, critics have continued to praise the accurate historical detail of life in the 1920s, with McLarin reporting in Booklist that "Dunn gracefully imparts historical facts … while painting a fascinating portrait of human nature."

A dentist is murdered in Die Laughing, and the shenanigans of aristocracy take center stage again in A Mourning Wedding. With the more recent Fall of a Philanderer, Daisy and Alec are on vacation again, this time to a coastal resort, where their innkeeper is soon discovered murdered. By this time, some critics were finding the later installments of the series growing a little stale. A Publishers Weekly contributor, for example, commented that "a somewhat anticlimactic ending [in Fall of a Philanderer] may leave readers a little dissatisfied." In a Booklist review of A Mourning Wedding, McLarin called the plot "weak." Nevertheless, the critic felt that Daisy is such a "winning character" that such flaws could be forgiven by readers.

In Gunpowder Plot Daisy is pregnant and celebrating Guy Fawkes Day with her school friend, Gwen Tyndall, at the Tyndall family estate. Daisy's hunch that there is trouble brewing within the unhappy family is confirmed when Gwen's brother Jack discovers the bodies of his father, Sir Harold, and an Australian guest, Mrs. Gooch—an apparent murder-suicide by Sir Harold. Alec soon arrives to investigate the case, which he solves with Daisy's help. Praising the novel's plot as a "cut above the average," Booklist writer Barbara Bibel concluded that the book should "delight readers who love country-house mysteries."

Daisy has given birth to twins and is ready to resume her journalism career in the sixteenth novel in the series, The Bloody Tower. Like Gunpowder Plot, which references the plot led by Guy Fawkes to blow up the houses of Parliament in 1605, the book refers to events in English history. Daisy is researching material for an article on the Tower of London, the fortress that served as prison and execution ground and that still holds the Crown Jewels. Invited to witness the Ceremony of the Keys, in which the Tower guards secure the fortress each night, Daisy must spend the night on the premises. She finds, however, that the experience is far from simple. A heavy fog obscures her view of the ceremony, and when she wakes the next morning she stumbles over the corpse of one of the Warders. When Alec is assigned to the case, he and Daisy once again work out what really happened. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called the novel "another fan-pleaser," and Booklist reviewer Bibel concluded that "Daisy's fans will be happy to have her back at work."

Dunn's "Regency Romance" historical novels present details of nineteenth-century England as she weaves tales of love. Tired of the marriage scene in London, an earl disguises himself as a servant in The Frog Earl. Miss Hartwell's Dilemma involves Amaryllis Hartwell, the two Lords pursuing her, the possibility of her unwelcome father reentering her life, and an ominous Spanish person. In Lavender Lady, David, an earl, conceals his identity when recuperating from a coach accident at the home of a family of orphans cared for by a middle-class woman with whom David eventually falls in love. Not all the stories in Dunn's collection are situated in England—some are located abroad. The Black Sheep's Daughter, for instance, follows Teresa Danville as she travels from her coffee plantation home in Costa Rica to England. She travels with, and becomes attracted to, the already engaged Sir Andrew Graylin. The characters in Lady in the Briars find adventure in St. Petersburg, Russia.

"I read one too many rotten ‘Regencies,’" Dunn once told CA, "and decided I could do better. After I had written an entire novel, it seemed silly not to submit it. To my mingled horror and delight, it was accepted by two publishers! While I enjoy writing Regencies and find history in general fascinating, it is science fiction that is my first love—though I've not yet had any published."

Dunn added, "Prior to my marriage I traveled extensively in Europe, both East and West, and to Israel, Samoa, and Fiji. My major expedition was to California, where I married a native. My best overall source for historical events, incidents, and details of the Regency period is J.B. Priestley's Prince of Pleasure—a fascinating, often amusing, and beautifully illustrated book. I also research the books and periodicals, architecture, transportation, clothes, and food of the times, and I collect a vast and unindexed list of contemporary idiom and slang. I know all the places in which my stories are set, but I always check on local details like the name of coaching inns and distances from other places. I'm also very particular about having the right flowers blooming at the right times!

"For specific books I have researched such subjects as poetry, art and music, how to use a tinderbox, hydrogen balloons, slavery, herbal medicine, farming, science and technology, etc. In a word, I try to be accurate.

"Jane Austen, always one of my favorite authors, was the first writer of ‘Regency romances.’ She was writing about her own times, but she differed from other writers of the period in her lighthearted, satirical approach, contrasting with the generally melodramatic popular fiction then current.

"Georgette Heyer was the first and best-known modern writer of ‘Regencies.’ She set the tone, preserving Austen's light touch, though satire about a period not one's own is more difficult to achieve. I write to entertain, to provide an escape from the complications of modern life into a world that is now as unreal as any in science fiction.

"My heroines, while conforming to the customs of the period, are not the helpless, clinging type. I expect them to be intelligent, practical, and resourceful. They are not necessarily conventionally beautiful, and the men with whom they live happily ever after are drawn to them by their characters, not their looks."

Dunn later told CA: "After the years of bringing up my son and doing part-time, temporary work, I faced the necessity of looking for a proper job. Writing a book seemed like a good way to postpone that dreadful moment. I was lucky enough to sell my first manuscript, so I went on writing. [The biggest surprise I have found as a writer is] how many people really care about my characters, particularly Daisy. In the days before e-mail, letters from readers were few and far between. Now I constantly hear from people who regard Daisy as a good friend and a companion in troubled times. I received an e-mail from a woman who went to look after a friend who was dying of cancer—she took all her Daisy Dalrymple mysteries with her to reread to cheer her up. Another with eighteen foster children, all with disabilities, wrote that she stayed up till two a.m. with Daisy—it was the only time she had for reading. A man told me he had had a really horrible summer and the only thing that kept him going was spending time with Daisy. This sort of story makes all the hard work worthwhile. I hope my books give people respite from the trials and tribulations of life in these parlous times and leave them feeling cheerful."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2001, Jenny McLarin, review of To Davy Jones Below, p. 1230; November 1, 2002, Jenny McLarin, review of Mistletoe and Murder, p. 477; October 1, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of A Mourning Wedding, p. 312; July 1, 2005, Barbara Bibel, review of Gunpowder Plot, p. 36; August, 2007, Barbara Bibel, review of The Bloody Tower, p. 41.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2007, review of The Bloody Tower.

Library Journal, August, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Styx and Stones, p. 146.

Publishers Weekly, June 6, 1994, review of Death at Wentwater Court; September 8, 1997, review of Damsel in Distress; July 12, 1999, review of Styx and Stones, p. 80; March 5, 2001, review of To Davy Jones Below, p. 66; July 18, 2005, review of Fall of a Philanderer, p. 187; July 17, 2006, review of Gunpowder Plot, p. 140; June 4, 2007, review of The Bloody Tower, p. 32.

ONLINE

Carola Dunn Home Page,http://www.geocities.com/CarolaDunn (March 4, 2008).