Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson is an historical mystery set in Scotland after WWI (available May 22, 2012).
Upper-class Scottish socialite Dandy Gilver’s sleuthing adventures begin in earnest in 1923, when she starts out to recover some stolen diamonds and is confronted by a suspicious death in After The Armistice Ball, the first of this series. Fast forward to 1927 and we find book number six, Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder. Dandy receives a note requesting her services as a detective in order to find a missing young woman. When she arrives at the appointed place and time, Dandy finds that she is not expected, and there a verbal brawl going on among the women of the house. In this passage we get the tenor of Dandy’s reaction.
In times gone by, I should not have known—as my maid Grant says—‘where to put myself’. Things being what they were these days, of course I watched all three with my piercing detective’s eye, wondering how the disappearance of a girl could produce three such very different reactions among a mother and two grandmothers, one fondly exasperated, one faint with terror and one so angry that I almost expected steam to hiss from her ears.
Dandy finds herself in the midst of a scenario not unlike the Montagues and Capulets. It seems that it is young Mirren Aitken, third generation of the Aitken’s Emporium founding family, who is missing and there is a great fear among the family that she has eloped with Dugald Hepburn of the rival department store, House of Hepburn. The family rivalry is so strong that an alliance between the two simply cannot be allowed to happen.
Within hours there is a shocking death, followed swiftly by another. And Dandy is horrified when the police haul her in and she must cool her heels for an hour before she is interviewed. When the police inspector indicates why he believes Dandy could be the killer, she is appalled.
I gaped at him.
‘That’s an extraordinary insinuation,’ I said.
‘Two young people dead, the same stranger present both times, unexpected, uninvited. There’s extraordinary for you.’
It was ludicrous, preposterous, as impertinent as it was baseless and actually, surely, not even coherent on its own terms when one faced it squarely.
Of course this makes Dandy more determined than ever to find out what secrets lay at the bottom of the tragedies that have occurred. The entire crux of this story hinges on the relationship between the two families, the Aitkens and the Hepburns. Fortunately, Catriona McPherson has provided a genealogy chart in the front of the book. I suggest that you make a copy and use it as a bookmark, as it was sometimes difficult for me to remember exactly who was in which tier of each family tree.
Throughout this novel, there is a strong sense of life in the United Kingdom after World War I. Things are changing between and among the social classes and many upper-class families don’t have quite the money they once did, yet pride and position still count. And Dandy is a great example of strong women doing what the times require.
Dandy Gilver has a marvelous website with a lovely rendering of her home, Gilverton and the site includes lots of information and pictures to keep you thoroughly immersed in the world of 1920s Scotland.