Catriona McPherson: The Reek of Red Herrings; Dandy Gilver #5 Tuesday, Dec 20 2016 

reekredherrings
Catriona McPherson’s fifth Dandy Gilver master, The Reek of Red Herrings, finds the 1930 sleuth and her partner, Alec, headed to the Banffshire coast of Scotland to the tiny fishing village of Gamrie.

Posing as philologists out to garner information on local folklore and the Doric speech patterns, the colloquial language soon gets the better of them as they hide their real aim: to uncover for the local herring merchant how body parts have started showing up in several barrels sent from the area.

They arrive at the rainy and snowy coast the week before Christmas, a high time as the boats are due in, in strong contract to the menacing weather. It’s also the wedding season as the boats return with their unusual engagement customs followed, and soon the two are swept up in the five weddings to take place on the next weekend.

Adding to the bizarre feeling of the area are the two strange brothers who inhabit Lump House on the cliff, a menagerie of stuffed animals in tableau settings that creep out Dandy as much as the boarding house where they stay, with its meager food and drafty rooms.

The duo become adrift in a sea of nonsensical “teenames,” nicknames given to tell people apart when the local custom has so much naming after grandparents that there could be three in a family with the same name. McPherson has done significant research to get the tone and customs down right and it shows.

The wild winter adds to the discomfort Dandy and Alec encounter, and just when she thinks things can’t possibly fall into place, Dandy figures out what’s really happened. But just what should be done about it then becomes the issue.

A satisfying and enveloping mystery that will have Dandy and Alec consulting their own morals before it’s over.

Catriona McPherson: A Deadly Measure of Brimstone Sunday, Nov 30 2014 

Deadly Measure
Auntie M loves the cover art of Catriona McPherson’s newest Dandy Gilver Scottish mystery, A Deadly Measure of Brimstone. The strong series, among other awards, won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award in 2013 and 2014.

But she liked the inside even more, as Dandy moves her two sons and husband, all recovering from a bout of the nasty chest illnesses which reach to the staff, to the spa town of Moffat to recuperate. Dandy has her own agenda to install central heating when the family is gone, and has neglected to mention this to her husband, Hugh.

Of course, with Dandy it’s never that simple. She and her partner Alec agree to take on a case to investigate the death of a woman who died suddenly at Laidlaw’s Hydropathic Establishment. Mrs. Addie’s grown children have written to ask Gilver and Osborne to look into their mother’s death, termed heart failue, which her children insist was not Mrs. Addie’s health issue before this visit.

It seems fairly simple: have Hugh and the boys treated and give them time to recover whilst investigating the death. Even aging dog Bunty comes along for the trip. But nothing is ever that straightforward with Dandy,
who soon finds herself disrobing to take saunas, cold baths, and salt rub massages all in the name of finding the evidence they seek.

With Alec also at the Hydro, the duo will find spirits, mediums, an even an after-hours establishment at the Hydro, run by Dr. Dorothea Laidlaw and her brother Thomas, who inherited the spa from their father.

McPherson gets the period details just right, from clothing and manners to the way people spoke in 1929. And Dandy’s humorous and slightly irreverent thoughts are on full display, as when Dandy and Alec endeavor to describe Mrs. Addie: “Thrashing out a description which honored her memory – one could not simply say she looked like a piglet in tweeds …”

Great fun that encapsulates the bygone Golden Age era from this award-winning author.