Tag Archives: 1920s Britain

Murder and Mayhem

29th February 2012

So today I’m performing my civic duty: drug court. I received my jury summons and went to that cattle call nightmare on Monday but was called back for today. Drug court. As I worked for a defense legal firm for six years, I was really hoping for a civil case, but surely drug court will be interesting. No murder, but a girl can hope for a little mayhem, right?

In that vein, I thought I’d review two Dandy Gilver novels today.

*I bought this for my Nook.

Dandy Gilver is just a touch bored. Her husband is obsessed with drains on the Gilverton estate, her sons are off at school, and her maid Grant is far too concerned with fashion. When her friend Daisy asks for help, Dandy (short for Dandelion) jumps at the chance. Daisy’s husband is in insurance, and the Duffy family wants to cash in a claim…for the missing family diamonds. The only problem is Mrs. Duffy’s story about the diamonds doesn’t ring true, and the premium payment hasn’t been met. When Cara Duffy, Mrs. Duffy’s daughter, meets with an accident, Dandy and Cara’s former fiancé Alec decide to do a bit of digging. Why did Cara try to break off her marriage to Alec at the last minute? Why did Mrs. Duffy not report the missing diamonds sooner? Is Cara really dead, or is something more going on?

As Dandy’s first case, there was certainly a lot of going round in circles, which was a bit annoying, but the end result made sense and was satisfying. Dandy is bored; in fact, she’s kind of mean about her husband, but their relationship obviously works for them. I also really like Alec and his relationship with Dandy and Hugh separately.

Verdict: Fun but not the strongest start to a series.

 

*I bought this for my Nook.

Dandy is back. The boys are at the seaside with the nanny, and Hugh is busy with contractors and estate business. Dandy’s school friend Buttercup and her American husband have moved into the family castle in South Queensferry. Since Buttercup is more comfortable in a speakeasy than a Scottish burgh, Dandy and her friend Daisy are called in to assist with Burry Man’s Day, part of the Ferry Fair. As the big landowners, Buttercup and her husband Cad are in charge of entertainment, judging bonny baby contests and passing out small gifts to the village children. There’s a hitch in the program when Robert Dudgeon, reigning Burry Man, decides he doesn’t want to participate. No one can blame him. He dresses up with burrs covering his body, going around to pubs for whisky and small tips. But Cad and Dandy talk to Robert, and he changes his mind, donning the burry man suit, scaring and thrilling children in a very superstitious community. At the end of the day, Robert participates in the greasy pole climbing contest and drops dead. Weak heart and too much whisky take the blame, but Dandy isn’t satisfied. Why, after 25 years, did Robert Dudgeon hesitate to act as Burry Man? And why did one of the pub owners and his daughter react so oddly when the Burry Man visited? Dandy calls in Alec, and the pair of them work to find out how and why the Burry Man met his death.

This book was so much better than the first, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of the local customs and problems – the teetotalers and the men who drink whisky like milk – as well as post-war sentiments. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Verdict: Dandy and Alec hit their stride, and The Burry Man’s Day is a success.

P.S. I read the third Dandy Gilver book and reviewed it here. The next book, An Unsuitable Day for a Murder, comes out in April.