The Blind Sleuth Mysteries:
Daisy Hayes was born in London in 1922. Her father was a bank manager, hoping for a son, but he had to settle for a blind daughter.
Now what do you do when your child is blind since birth and you have the means to do all that is necessary to help her? You hire a private tutor to stimulate her verbal development in the first years of her life, because you realize how vital language will become for her. Then you send her to an exclusive school where everything is done to develop the minds and resourcefulness of blind girls. There they teach them all these fancy techniques of spatial orientation and mind mapping. And before you know it, your darling daughter has developed an exceptional intellect that just seems to draw murder mysteries like a magnet...
The Blind Sleuth Mysteries form a portrait of the twentieth century as witnessed by this remarkable blind woman. In ‘D for Daisy’, for instance, our protagonist takes us along with her through World War II.
‘Daisy and Bernard’ brings us to 1989, the year the Berlin wall came down. At the same time these novels form the life story of Daisy herself. ‘First Spring in Paris’ and ‘Honeymoon in Rio’ take place in 1946 and 1952 respectively, and connect nicely to ‘D for Daisy’, that ends in 1950.
The three 'Millennia Mysteries’, on the other hand take us back to ancient Rome in AD 64, as well as to 20th century Rome, in 1964 and 1992 respectively.
Fasten your seat-belts.
OUT NOW: The Icarus Case
While Daisy and Darren roamed the countryside around Bottomleigh House in their little Japanese car, they chanced upon a small airfield called Gremian Hill, which caught their fancy at once. They were told by members of the local parachuting club that a blind person or a paraplegic could skydive, so they became regulars to find out more.
But soon tragedy struck, a parachute failed to open and one of their new friends fell to her death under suspicious circumstances. What’s more, the chutes were kept under lock and key in a special shed, so sabotage seemed impossible.
Time for our blind sleuth to tackle this locked-room mystery, and when another member of the Icarus Skydiving Club fell to her death and the press started talking about a serial killer, it became even more urgent to uncover the truth.
COMING SOON: August in Pompeii
In AD 79 the emperor Vespasian was dying and some prophetess was announcing the end of the world. Meanwhile Desiderata had to deal with a fresh criminal plot from her old enemy Numa. You’d think that things couldn’t get any worse, but that was counting without Mount Vesuvius literally blowing its top above Pompeii.
What on earth were our blind ‘seeker of justice’, her deaf husband Simplex, and uncle Balbus doing there that summer, a true case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? It’s a complicated story, but as it happened they had not one, but three equally compelling reasons to visit Campania and pursue their investigations in this small, provincial, but nevertheless fashionable town. Little did they know what surprises awaited them.
Not only did they have to face their arch-enemy in a blood-curdling showdown, but they had to confront the horrors of a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. Both events would take them to the brink of their instincts for survival, and ultimately turn many of their certitudes upside down.
D for Daisy
World War II. During the attacks on Berlin in the winter of 1943-44, wave after wave of British bombers swept over northern Europe and dropped their lethal loads on the German capital. A fair percentage of the bombers would fail to return from these operations, and RAF planners calculated the life expectancy of the airmen in weeks rather than months.
Therefore it did not seem strange when a Lancaster named D-Daisy landed at its base in England after a bombing run, and a member of the crew was found dead.
However, one person soon came to the conclusion that this man had been murdered. And the person who discovered this happened to be blind since birth. Her name was Daisy and she was the victim’s wife. She was very blonde and very pretty; also very young. Therefore, no one would listen to her. So she was going to have to find the murderer on her own.
First Spring in Paris
In 1946 Daisy and her friend Beatrice decided to move to Paris, because they were fed up with limping London, still crippled and depressed in the aftermath of the war. And indeed, in the spring of that year, Paris was the place to be—isn’t it always? In particular, some very interesting things were going on in Saint-Germain-des-Prés: existentialism, free love, and American jazz throbbing through the night in the cellar clubs.
Then one day, just as the two were settling into a new life, a little boy stepped forward in the street and said, “Can you come with me? My mummy is all funny.” And he led them to a garret where they found his mother’s dead body.
A very disturbing murder case was thrown in their path, and one thing leading to another, Daisy Hayes, blind sleuth extraordinaire, had to rise to the challenge as never before.
Honeymoon in Rio
In 1952 there were children everywhere. Or so it seemed to Daisy Hayes, blind since birth, who at the age of 29 had just tied the knot for the second time—to an intercontinental pilot. But on their first flight as a married couple an engine broke down—sabotage?—and they were grounded.
Now, there are worse places to stop over for repairs than Rio de Janeiro, especially if you’re staying at a grand hotel on Ipanema Beach. But then again, Daisy wouldn’t be our favourite blind sleuth if during her stay she hadn’t stumbled on a murderous plot that exposed her to mortal dangers.
Groping around in the dark, she found her exceptional mind pitted against that of an arch-criminal, and with her usual courage she tried to foil a devilish conspiracy that spanned three continents and threatened the very existence of the most innocent and vulnerable victims.
Cockett's last Cock-up
Chief Inspector Nigel Cockett could have retired at the age of 55, but like a fool he stayed on for that last promotion that would raise his pension just a little more. Unfortunately, just then a corpse turned up in the holding cell of his own police station.
Inspector Manson, his young colleague fresh from police college—the chappy that was supposed to succeed him—seemed to think that he, Nigel, was the culprit. Just because he was the only person who had the key to the lock-up in his possession. “This won’t do at all,” the policeman thought, “I’ve been framed!”
So he called his old acquaintance Daisy Hayes on the phone. She was the only real-life sleuth he’d ever met with any talent for solving murders. He begged her to help him prove his innocence: “The only thing I can say for sure is that I didn’t do it!”
Murder on the High Sea
In 1960 Daisy Hayes was asked to replace a physiotherapist on an ocean liner, for just one round trip to New York, at very short notice. Before she knew it she was sailing on the RMS Histria, in the thick of the life on board. With the intrigues and love triangles going on around her, she marvelled at the potential for murderous plots on such a voyage. “It’s a good thing,” she told the ship’s detective, “that a liner at sea is a very bad place for killing someone. Too confined to do it undetected, and you can’t get away afterwards.”
Then one day at dawn a corpse was found floating on the open ocean ahead of the Histria. The ship came to a lumbering halt, a lifeboat was sent out to retrieve the dead body, and while some early birds watched from the rails, it was hoisted on board. And the corpse turned out to be that of a first-class passenger.
Impossible! Or isn’t it? Our favourite blind sleuth could hardly wait to find out.
The Desiderata Stone
A Mystery Spanning Millennia:
Daisy Hayes was a sculptress, and blind since birth. In 1964 a French priest came to visit her at the collective studio in north London where she worked. He was fascinated by the impaired artist and told her, “There’s this program at the Vatican Museums, where people like you get an opportunity to study archaeological artifacts by touch. Are you interested?” — “Of course, mon Père!”
In AD 64 a blind masseuse working at the baths in Rome overheard some important men preparing to set fire to the city and seize power. When they found out that she knew too much, they had her arrested and tried to eliminate her. She decided she had to leave a message revealing the plot, and did everything she could to save her hide.
So, as a Vatican intern 1900 years later, Daisy uncovered a mysterious message from antiquity: the Desiderata stone.
Blind Angel of Wrath
1967 in Swinging London. The Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. At Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park the hippies staged sit-ins to legalise marijuana. And even though she was blind since birth, it did not escape Daisy Hayes’ attention that “The times they are a-changin’…”
But just as she reached middle-age and the height of her powers as an artist, Daisy was visited by a ghost from her past. An accomplice in an old story of revenge appeared at the opening of her new sculpture exhibition and made demands she could not ignore.
The man who challenged her was a desperate father, who told Daisy that his fifteen-year-old daughter—a hippie girl—had disappeared without a trace a year earlier. The police was powerless, or indifferent, or both. “You must help me to find her, Daisy Hayes. And you know why I’m asking you? It’s because I happen to know that you’re a real killer…”
Berlin Fall: A Cold War Comedy of Manners
While treating a patient in the fall of 1972, Daisy managed to winkle out of him that he worked for MI6. Then she blabbed about a planned visit to East Berlin with her friend Margery, who was a chemistry researcher at King’s College. Back at the office, the man asked his spooks to do some background checks. It turned out that without even knowing it his blind physiotherapist and her chum had an indirect connection to a high-ranking communist party boss…
Meanwhile, in East Berlin, clever operatives of the GDR secret services realized that Margery must know some pretty vital scientific secrets. They decided to put Hans Konradi on the case during the visit of the two Englishwomen to Ost. Young Hans was not an agent, just a charming student with fluent English who could easily be pressured into spying for his country.
But Hans had an agenda of his own, and ‘Operation Berlin Fall’ did not turn out the way the spymasters on both sides of the Wall had envisioned.
The Nightlife of the Blind
There is something special about meeting an old acquaintance by chance. A reunion with someone you were close to a long time ago always seems a bit miraculous. But for the blind especially this is a very unlikely occurrence, as you might as well pass one another by without even knowing it.
So in 1984, at the age of sixty-one, Daisy Hayes was quite thrilled to encounter her old classmate Janet, blind like her, in her doctor’s waiting room. Then a disturbing fact became clear: Janet did not have such fond memories of our blind sleuth when she was a schoolgirl. She even asked, “Remember the night Vicky died? I’ve always wanted to know: did you push her down the stairs?”
Suddenly Daisy found herself accused of murder; she was appalled, and asked herself, “Do all my old schoolmates think I pushed Vicky? How can I prove my innocence forty years after the facts?” To achieve just that, she was forced to go rooting in a distant past, with shocking results.
Daisy's Pushkin Duel
In 1949 Daisy Hayes had a patient more or less her own age, Odile Speed, with whom she had a good rapport at once, and who told her about a strange kind of duel, interrupted for many years, from a short story by Pushkin.
Then on Christmas Eve of 1952 our blind sleuth extraordinaire stumbled on the scene of a murder just being committed. She bumped into the culprit and the victim died in her arms. The police interrogated her at once. But soon it became clear that the testimony of a blind witness was bound to be worthless in a court of law, the results of the coroner’s inquest were inconclusive at best, and it seemed that the murderer, whoever he was, would get away scot-free.
It was only in 1986, during a stay in Zermatt with her old friend Beatrice, that Daisy was confronted again with this ‘cold case’. She then experienced first-hand what it is like to fight your own version of a ‘Pushkin duel’ to the bitter end.
Daisy and Bernard
In the summer of 1989 the Iron Curtain was unraveling, and Daisy Hayes had just become a pensioner who liked to do her ironing while listening to the latest news on the radio.
The doorbell chimed. A police officer handed over a summons—printed in Braille. Daisy was being asked to testify about a baffling and gruesome murder, and had to follow the policeman at once. During the ride to New Scotland Yard, even before the first interview took place, the blind lady reflected that, though she knew nothing about this case, she would not be able to prove her innocence without revealing the two murders she actually had committed—many years ago.
In an original twist to the “good cop-bad cop” routine, the older police investigator in charge of this strange case seemed to be very much in love with the blind suspect, and encouraged her to come clean and find redemption at long last.
The Desiderata Gold
A Mystery Spanning Millennia:
In 1992 Daisy Hayes had inherited Bottomleigh House and was struggling to keep it afloat financially. Then she got a letter from an archaeologist asking her to help make sense of a mysterious message that had just been dug up in Rome. Time to hook up again with Morag, her deaf friend from the ‘project’ in 1964, and to go back to the Eternal City.
In AD 64, after Feli’s death, Desiderata had scores to settle and a ‘twin sister’ to bury. Her new friends the Christians gave her sanctuary, but her relationship with them was a bit strained. Soon the ‘Community’ and their blind protégée had to part company. Eventually, assisted by her uncle Balbus, ex-centurion of the X Fretensis legion, she found a path out of her troubles, and helped him search for a stolen treasure.
So, 1928 years later, Daisy went looking for a gold cache from antiquity, hoping to solve a new mystery, and even more to reconnect with Desi, her soulmate from ancient Rome.
The Desiderata Riddle
A Mystery Spanning Millennia:
The last days that Daisy Hayes spent in Rome in 1964 were quite exciting. She and Father Contini went back to the crypt and made some disturbing discoveries. Not about Desiderata herself, but about the archaeologist who had investigated the place in the thirties. The quest now led them to the German town of Trier, where they teamed up again in the fall of that same year to continue their research.
In AD 67 things were looking good for Desi and the Pomponius family in their beautiful domus: they lived like princes. But as her friends the Christians went through yet another period of persecution, the blind young woman found it hard to decide on who’s side she wanted to be and what she intended to do with her life. Would she ever find love?
So both she and Daisy ended up trying to grapple with the greatest riddle of all: “Who are you really, Desiderata?” And what’s more, did she become a Christian in the end?
Desiderata's Lost Cause
Nerva, the future emperor of Rome, called the Christian faith “Desiderata’s lost cause”. At the time the “Universal Church” counted only a few thousand faithful rather than untold millions, and he didn’t think it would last, as the Second Coming of the Messiah was looking more and more like a no-show. His blind friend Desiderata would demur and argue.
Then in AD 76 the first elected Pope was brutally murdered, and Desi realized that the very survival of her faith was at stake. Delegates from all over the empire had come to Rome for the Pope’s ordination, but now suspicion reigned. How could they choose the victim’s successor, while they could be electing his murderer? To restore confidence the killer had to be unmasked urgently.
However, solving a murder isn’t simple when killing a man is not even a crime according to the law. In the end the ‘lost cause’ was not the one Desi expected.
Back to Africa
While visiting her son Jonathan in prison, Daisy heard a strange story from him. He’d befriended an old man who was serving a life sentence for a crime he hadn’t committed. Of course every convict says that, but Johnny-John believed this man’s protestations of innocence and asked his mother to look into it.
The facts of the case had taken place in Zambia long ago, when it was still a British colony, so Daisy started her investigation among ex-colonials who’d returned to England. However, it soon became clear that the person holding the key to the mystery was still living in Africa, so Daisy took a flight to Lusaka to seek out this witness.
The truth turned out to be as strange as life in the African bush can be. It slowly emerged from a missionary daughter’s rambling memoir about the long-gone world she grew up in. Daisy had to follow a winding trail, but in the end she was mysteriously led to unexpected revelations.
I. The Daisy Hayes Trilogy
This is a collection of the first three books published in the “Blind Sleuth” series: “D for Daisy”, “Blind Angel of Wrath” and “Daisy and Bernard”. They form the original “Daisy Hayes Trilogy”.
Yes, a trilogy requires that you read three books in the right order. Meaning that each one of these novels has a beginning, a middle, and an end, so that you have to start all over again each time. That can’t be helped, but at least the main protagonist stays the same, and in this edition the three books are published side by side for added convenience.
This trilogy as a whole is a story of crime, punishment, and redemption, with a narrative arc spanning all three story-lines neatly enough. At the same time it is a portrait of the twentieth century as witnessed by one remarkable blind woman, Daisy Hayes.
II. The Desiderata Quest
Almost 600 pages of pure reading pleasure in one hefty tome. Each of these three novels has a beginning, a middle, and an end, so you have to start all over again each time. That can’t be helped, but at least the main protagonists stay the same, and in this edition Daisy and Desiderata’s adventures are published side by side, which is an added convenience.
We have Daisy Hayes, blind sleuth extraordinaire, born in 1922 and at the top of her game in 1964, when she encounters the name of Desiderata for the first time. And we have her doppelgänger in ancient Rome, born in AD 49 and struggling to reach out to someone, anyone, who will understand her, even if it should take two millennia to find that person.
Over the ages, their interaction is based entirely on scholarship, archaeology and detection. No magic nor tricks, only hard work, imagination, and love.
III. Daisy's travels
There was nothing Daisy Hayes loved more than going places, even though she was totally blind. And travel she did in her long and eventful life; being married to an intercontinental pilot for many years helped a bit. But not being able to see a place does not mean you cannot get to know local life quite well, especially when you seem to attract trouble like a magnet. So here are three of our blind sleuth’s most exciting and exotic adventures: “First Spring in Paris”, “Honeymoon in Rio” and “Berlin Fall”.
IV. The Heydays of Daisy Hayes
The word ‘heyday’ is not normally used as a plural, but maybe an exception should be made for Daisy Hayes. From early adolescence straight to a ripe middle age, our favorite blind sleuth has known different periods of glory, as her adventures in “The Nightlife of the Blind” amply illustrate.
Together with “Cockett’s Last Cock-up” and “Murder on the High Sea”, this volume combines the most enervating ‘impossible crime’ mysteries that Daisy was ever confronted with, the solving of which entailed her most classic sleuthing exploits. A locked-room murder, the corpse of a passenger floating at sea far ahead of the ship she was sailing on, and a cold case going 44 years back... But such fiendish plots do not preclude the human interest provided by a great variety of original and endearing characters or, for that matter, an underlying sense of fun.
Perhaps ‘heydays’ should be understood as referring to the heights that Daisy reached through her most challenging and stirring adventures, never mind in which periods in time they took place."