Tag Archives: Catriona McPherson

An Unsuitable Day for a Murder by Catriona McPherson

19th April 2012

*Kat Bozowski at Thomas Dunne Books kindly sent this to me after I loved the last one so much. Thanks, Kat!

Star-crossed lovers. Mirren Aitken and Dugald Hepburn are destined to be opponents, but they love one another. Their families are adamantly against the match because the two families are business competitors – each owns a department store across the street from the other.

When Mirren goes missing, Mrs. Ninian Aitken, businesswoman and matriarch of the family, sends for Dandy Gilver. Dandy senses there is something more going on between these two families, and her suspicions are confirmed when Mirren is found shot in the head. Is it suicide? Murder? But another death confirms to Dandy that something is rotten, especially after both families tell her in no uncertain terms that the investigation is over.

Along with Alec and Bunty, her aging Dalmatian, Dandy uncovers family secret after family secret and wonders if these two young people will receive any sort of justice.

This particular installment of Dandy Gilver’s adventures was as fun as ever; however, with so many Aitkens who are often called, alternatively, Mary Aitken or Mrs. Ninian Aitken, Bella or Mrs. John Aitken, and Abigail or Mrs. Jack Aitken, I was very often confused as to whom was being discussed. Plus, when some of the family secrets come out, the confusion only got worse. As a frequent reader of mysteries, I pride myself in following along and even determining part of the mystery myself. Though I must say Dandy was just as confused as I was, it was still too much at times. In fact, I passed this one on to my mom, and she texted me several times: Who is this character? What happened? I giggled because I totally did the same thing. There is a family tree in the front of the book; however, I don’t like having to flip back and forth so often.

In the end, Catriona McPherson’s An Unsuitable Day for a Murder is a fast, fun read, and though the path to resolution is a bit circuitous, it’s also very well thought out.

For the record, I only mildly liked After the Armistice Ball, but I loved Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains and The Burry Man’s Day.

Preorder your copy from Indiebound or for preorder it for your Nook. Or buy others in the series here.


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.

Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson

12th December 2011

* I received this book from Thomas Dunne Books in exchange for an honest review. Buy your copy from Indiebound and get excited for the sequel in Spring 2012.

Dear Mrs. Gilver,

My husband is going to kill me, and I would rather he didn’t.

When Dandy Gilver receives this missive from a lady in Edinburgh, she hastens to the young woman’s side. However, as the woman is extremely fearful of her husband, she asks that Dandy come as a ladies’ maid, seeking to fill a recently-abandoned position. Mrs. Gilver, a lady herself, asks her own ladies’ maid for assistance, and shows up at the Balfour residence, a bit anxious but ready to fill her post. After only one day in the house, there is a dead body and motives miles long…or so it appears.

This first installment in the adventures of Dandy Gilver was absolutely everything I wanted it to be – a bit P.G. Wodehouse, a little Patricia Wentworth, a lot Maisie Dobbs. However, these comparisons are useful only for gauging whether or not it’s your cup of tea because Dandy and her story are a bit different. The best word to describe the novel? Zany. First, Dandy is married to Hugh but relies on her friend Alec as her “Watson,” and I really enjoyed the friendship and collaboration between the two. It’s the early 20s, there’s a strike on, and tensions in Scotland are running high. Also, the group below decks is much more important than any lady or gent: a commie valet, dance hall butler, and a peering tom are all part of this oddball cast of domestic help.

Good luck beating Dandy to the punch as I was quite unable to, though I had my suspicions, and pick this one up for yourself and/or for the mystery lover in your life and read it quickly so you’ll be ready for the next in the series come spring.

Read this: if you liked Gosford Park, Upstairs, Downstairs, Downton Abbey, Jacqueline Winspear or P.G. Wodehouse. Perfect for cold winter weather.

P.S. Yes, Mom, you can definitely borrow this. 😉