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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains

Title: Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains
Author: Catriona McPherson
Page Count: 293 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: historical mystery
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Back Cover Summary:
Welcome to Edinburgh, 1926. Dandy Gilver, a wealthy and witty aristocrat (and sometimes amateur sleuth) receives a letter from Lollie Balfour, who insists that her husband of five years is having her followed and her mail is being steamed open.

The only way for Dandy to help is by pretending to applying for a job as a lady’s maid in Lollie’s house. Dandy gets a crash course from her own maid and arrives at 31 Heriot Row, ready to put all of her detection skills to good use. Why does Mr. Balfour want to get rid of his wife? And can Dandy stay in disguise long enough to evade the villains?

Charming and funny, Dandy Gilver is an irresistible sleuth who is sure to win over mystery lovers everywhere. Readers who can’t get enough of Dorothy L. Sayers, Barbara Pym, and Dorothy Parker will definitely find a new favorite in Catriona McPherson’s smart and original mystery.
*****

Remember how, when I was reviewing the first book in this series (After the Armistice Ball) I commented on how glad I was to have read the first book first?  Well, happily enough for me, that wasn't a requirement for the rest of the series, since I apparently had grabbed this, the fifth book in the series, in one of my library forays.

Having read the first book was helpful because I had met most of the characters already, but the mystery itself definitely stood on its own.  Dandy goes undercover as a lady's maid in order to find out why Lollie Balfour's husband is acting cray cray and trying to kill her.  Everyone who knows Dandy finds the idea of her passing for a second as a servant to be hilarious, and Dandy herself is very honest in her appraisal of her own abilities to pass as a lady's maid.  In fact, the reactions of several members of the Balfour household end up being the key to the whole business.  Sometimes it isn't what a character says, but what isn't said, that ends up being the biggest clue.

With that said, I did figure out who the bad guy was fairly early on, although I didn't see the precise details come together until they were revealed in the course of the story.  This wasn't/never is a problem for me- I like to see a plan come together.

The most fascinating (and unexpected) part of this story was definitely the peek into how the lives of servants and workers were different from those of the people you generally read about (wealthy people.)  At the same time as the events of this story was a general strike in Britain; Dandy has to consider how her attitudes towards working people were shaped by her and her husband's social position and finds that meeting these people in the flesh is a lot different from reading about people in the newspapers.  The book doesn't preach, just provides some food for thought, and it's clear that Dandy leaves the Balfour household with a lot to think about.

All in all, this was another fun venture into this series, and when I went to put my next installment on hold, I made sure to find book number two.  I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing all the shenanigans that Dandy gets up to- this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite historical mystery series.

Overall Rating:

 
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