I hadn’t come across any of Catriona McPherson’s books until the publishers emailed me about her latest book – Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder, which is coming out in the spring and they kindly sent me the fifth in the Dandy Gilver series – Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains. Given that it has the sort of title and jacket cover that normally make me avoid a book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed this book. It just goes to show not to judge a book by its cover.
It’s set in Edinburgh in 1926, when Dandy (short for Dandelion Dahlia!), a wealthy aristocrat who is also an amateur sleuth, receives a letter from Lollie Balfour asking for help as she is convinced that her husband is going to kill her. The only way Dandy can investigate is for her to go undercover as lady’s maid to Lollie. She manages to pass as a lady’s maid (albeit an inexperienced one) with the other household servants, who with just one exception, all have stories of how horrible Mr Balfour is. And then he is found dead in his bedroom, a locked room, stabbed with ‘a long, bone-handled knife, lodged to its hilt and standing straight up out of his neck, pooled all round with blood that was almost black.’
There are plenty of suspects for his murder, including Lollie herself, and Dandy has to work out who is telling the truth. I had my suspicions quite early on but hadn’t quite foreseen the actual outcome or culprit. Even though I didn’t get it right I was on the right lines, which is pleasing and in any case I wouldn’t have liked it to be too easy to work out the puzzle.
Along with a good plot, the characters are all well defined and distinct and although at one point I thought the amount of description of the miners’ strike was just that bit too detailed, it has a great sense of time and place reflecting the mood of the 1920s during the general strike. And now I do know the proper treatment for bloodstains.
- Hardback: 291 pages
- Publisher:Thomas Dunne Books (2009)
- Language English
- ISBN-13: 978-0312654184
- Source: the publishers
My rating 4.5/5
I wonder how I’ve managed to be totally unaware of Catriona McPherson‘s books up to now. She is a Scottish writer who now lives in Northern California. I’ll certainly read more of her books in future.