Daisy in Chains

Glastonbury is the site of the mythical kingdom of Camelot. It’s in the Mendip district of Somerset England as are the Mendip Caves a series of limestone caverns, which conceal the larges underground waterway system in Britain. The passageways between caves can be quite narrow. It is currently a popular hiking and climbing venue… and in this novel, it’s also the site where the bodies of the victims of a series of brutal murders are discovered. Perhaps a very handsome, romantic, but insane man brought young women here to see the pool where Arthur and Guinevere’s wedding rings were tossed. After all “Who can resist a story of enduring love or heatless betrayal.” 

One thing unusual about these murders is the body type of the victims. As is common with serial killings, they are all similar. But in this case, all the young women are morbidly obese. The fact in itself adds to the complexity of the case. How could any single murderer carry such heavy bodies through the narrow passageways and deep into the caves? 

After three, maybe even four killings, the police identify a murder suspect, Hamish Wolfe, a relatively young, well-known surgeon who is incredibly handsome and charming. He is tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. One piece of evidence against him is that during medical school he belonged to a group called ‘the fat club,’ four medical students who dated obese young women, had sex with them, and later videotaped their lovemaking and sold the tapes. Unlike the other members of the club, however, Hamish was actually in love with one of the girls, the very first one, the girl who unwittingly started the whole enterprise. Her name was Daisy, and the video Hamish made, apparently for romantic purposes, was called Daisy in Chains. 

Hamish has been in prison for over a year, and he still maintains his innocence. Enter our heroine Maggie Rose, a very successful lawyer, and true crime writer, whose practice is to take on the cases of notorious, convicted serial killers and gain their release. Hamish pins his hopes for a new trial on Maggie. She, perhaps, falls in love with him.

Maggie is as unusual as the rest of the story. She’s small, waifish, and eccentric, a recluse, very purposeful in her manner, brilliant in her ability to analyze criminal activity and events, and she’s very successful. She dresses conservatively, except that she has, for some unknown but important reason, dyed her hair blue.  

The character development and plot in this novel is spectacular: eccentric characters that weave their way through a storyline that’s as labyrinthine as the caves where the murders are supposed to take place. But above all, the book is a monument to brilliant structure. Somehow the author is able to support all the twists and turns in the story without a loose end, a dead end, or a leaky foundation. It’s as well worked out and constructed as the very best labyrinth, and just as confounding.