The Mirror Dance (Dandy Gilver) by Catriona McPherson
|The Mirror Dance (Dandy Gilver) by Catriona McPherson|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's the fourteenth book in the series but it still has a great deal of sparkle and would read as a stand alone.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: January 2021|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
|External links: Author's website|
It was the August Bank Holiday weekend and, as so often happened, it was cold enough to have the fire lit and Bunty the Dalmation wasn't inclined to leave it to keep Dandy Gilver warm on the sofa. The thought of work was almost cheering when Dandy took the call from Sandy Bissett in Dundee. She was the publisher of a magazine and had been told that the man running the Punch and Judy show in the local park had used copies of two of her cartoon characters - Rosie Cheek and her sister Freckle - to drum up some local interest in his show. Sandy Bissett's request was simple: she wanted Gilver and Osborne to warn the man about infringement of copyright - and Dandy and Alex would be cheaper than employing a solicitor to do the same job.
Dandy's solution was simple: she would take the female staff from Gilverton on a Bank Holiday Monday trip to Dundee to see the show and she'd have a quiet word with the Punchinello. There was no need to involve Alex Osborne who, Dandy suspected, would be entertaining his new lady friend, Poppy Lanville. So the next day, Dandy, Delia Grant, Becky the head housemaid and Mrs Tilling set of for Dundee. It was still bitterly cold but the afternoon could have been pleasant except Dandy and Grant discovered the Punchinello in his tent with his throat cut. Gilver and Osborne were still employed by Sandy Bissett over the matter of the infringement of copyright but now it seemed that they were also investigating a murder - although that was not quite how the local police saw it.
It's cosy crime but at the top end of the genre. The characterisation is excellent - and you don't even need to have read earlier books in the series to get a feel for the players. The dynamic between Dandy and Alex is excellent: there's some real chemistry there, kept carefully under wraps, but they have complementary strengths which make the partnership more than the sum of the parts. I liked Grant too. She's almost too much to cope with but she contributes a great deal to the investigation.
There's a great sense of location for Dundee - and that part of Scotland - in the 1930s. It's not prosperous and there seems to be a lot of belt-tightening going on. Even Gilverton is not exempt although most of the economies seem to have fallen on Dandy rather than Hugh Gilver. It's the plot you want to know about, though, isn't it? What starts as a mystery as to how someone could have got into the tent to commit the murder and then got away again without being seen turns into a very meaty and complex plot: you're going to need to be in the wide-awake club to keep up with it. I read it a lot more quickly than I expected and I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
For more cosy crime from the nineteen-thirties, we can recommend Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon although Dandy and Alec make for a rather better and more memorable read.
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