Something sinister is afoot in the streets of Dundee, when a puppeteer is found murdered behind his striped Punch and Judy stand, as children sit cross-legged drinking ginger beer. At once, Dandy Gilver’s semmingly-innocuous investigation into plagiarism takes a darker turn. The gruesome death seems to be inextricably bound to the gloomy offices of Doig’s Publishers, its secrets hidden in the real stories behind their girls’ magazines The Rosie Cheek and The Freckle.
On meeting a mysterious professor from St Andrews, Dandy and her faithful colleague Alex Osbourne are flung into the worlds of academia, the theatre and publishing. Nothing is quite as it seems, and behind the cheerful facades of puppets and comic books, is a troubled history has begun to repeat itself.
This is the fifteenth book in the Dandy Gilver series. Published by Hodder and Stoughton.
This book was my introduction to this series, but I was able to get stuck in straight away. There is no doubt an added richness from following the series from its start, but the degree of enjoyment is not affected in the slightest. This is a charming and clever book.
I like how it’s a mix of factual setting in the publishing industry in Dundee, and fiction. And there’s another element too. Stories set in this era always have an added poignancy. People are so optimistic after pulling their lives and society back together after the first world war. The reader knows that everything is about to come tumbling down again. The genteel ways of the upper middle class and above, with their households of servants and gardeners, are about to end forever. This is the atmosphere that emerges in this beautiful book.
Dandy is a likeable, energetic heroine, ably assisted by Alex with whom she has a slightly nuanced rapport, and her indomitable maid Grant. Together they wade into this particular mystery with enthusiasm and persistence.
The plot is original and clever, and the story is absorbing and immensely enjoyable.
And I absolutely adore the cover!
About the author
Catriona McPherson was born in South Queensferry. After finishing school, she worked in a bank for a short time, before going to university. She studied for an MA in English Language and Linguistics at Edinburgh University, and then gained a job in the local studies department at Edinburgh City Libraries. She left this post after a couple of years, and went back to university to study for a PhD in semantics. During her final year she applied for an academic job, but left to begin a writing career.
These days, McPherson lives with her husband on a farm in the Galloway countryside, where she spends her time writing, gardening, swimming and running.