Another Recommendsday post, another crime novel. This time though it’s historical crime and the Dandy Gilver series by Catriona McPherson. I read number 11 in the series – Dandy Gilver and a Most Misleading Habit – at the weekend and was reminded how much I like this series. The previous book in the series was a joint BotW about 18 months ago, but perhaps didn’t get as much love as it deserved so this seemed like a good time to revisit it.
Dandy is an upper class lady turned private detective in the wilds of Scotland in the 1920s. She falls into detection when some diamonds are stolen at a ball and discovers that a) she enjoys it and b) she is really quite good at it. Soon she’s started her own detective agency with her friend Alec and the cases start coming in. Dandy’s husband is not keen, but is prepared to put up with it (and the money it brings in) as long as her activities are thrust in his face all the time. I think the series starts fairly slowly, but really hits its stride by book 5 when Dandy goes under cover as a lady’s maid for a case, although I like the second one, Bury Man’s Day a lot as well.
In …Most Misleading Habit, Dandy is investigating a death at a convent in an arson attack, while Alec, her partner in detection, is looking into a break out at an asylum nearby which happened on the same night. The two must be connected – but an old war chum of Alec’s is being blamed for it and Alec is convinced that he’s being framed. What really happened and who is it that’s still sneaking around the convent?
Dandy is often shelved with the cozy crime books – but it’s a bit darker than that. They do have their humorous moments, but the solutions often involve issues that you don’t come across very often in this sort of book. I’ve spoken before about the Daisy Dalrymple and Phryne Fisher series, and Dandy is definitely darker than Daisy and as dark as the darkest Phryne’s.
I’ve read all bar one of the series now – and they’re really worth your time. You don’t necessarily need to start at the beginning – and several of the installments are very competitively priced at the moment. I’ve just bought the missing one while writing this because it was only £1.99 on kindle – but a couple of them are only 99p and one of them – Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder is one of my favourites and gives a fairly good indication of what the series is like.