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3.9 out of 5 stars39
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 October 2005
This book is a pleasure to read. It's well-plotted; you can see some twists coming (so you feel clever) but there are surprises as well. The main character is an engaging personality; likeable, intelligent, and with enough depth that you feel you'll find out more about her as the series develops (lets hope there'll be sequels). And the writing is elegant and funny. Recommended.
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on 4 December 2006
Catriona McPherson has created, in Dandy (short for Dandelion) Gilver, an endearing character. Dandy - married to boring old Hugh who is more keen on his huntin', shootin' and fishin' than paying his wife the attention she so obiously seeks - is bored to tears. This leads her into a new life as an amateur sleuth which starts as a mild diversion (her household runs on wheels well-oiled by butler, cook and maids a'plenty) but which becomes increasinlgly more important to her as the story unfolds.

Although there are some minor flaws, one being a definite loose end left untied, the possibilities for a series are there. The author has managed to capture the essence of the 1920s - she even knows that the term "weekend" wasn't use in high places; one was always invited to stay from "Friday to Monday."

I would have liked at least one sub-plot and a little more background colour - dinner parties, conversations between butler/cook. Perhaps this is a draw-back of the first person narrative: the narrator-only viewpoint. Overall, a good first novel.
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on 18 February 2010
I took a gamble and bought this book by (to me) an unknown author after an Amazon recommendation and it paid off! I thoroughly enjoyed it and am delighted to find that I have several more books about Dandy to look forward to. Dandelion (yes really) married somewhat reluctantly and equally reluctantly became a mother! She starts sleuthing to help out a friend in an attempt to brighten life with her huntin', shootin', fishin' husband and finds a good friend in a younger man who is involved somewhat in the mystery. There is humour and some rather dark touches to the story which is beautifully set in the county set in Scotland between the Wars. My personal enjoyment was increased by my familiarity with the area where part of the story is set but that would not be essential to one's pleasure in the story.
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on 6 February 2008
This book is a delight and I look forward to reading others by Catriona McPherson. My tastes in crime fiction are eclectic, the only essential is fine writing and this prose is precise, and flows across the page and into my consciousness. The period detail seems to have been impeccably researched without ever seeming to intrude on the crystalline story-telling, oh, and the plot's good too!
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Dandy Gilver is asked to look into Lena Duffy's claims that her diamonds were stolen at an Armistice Ball. The diamonds were insured through a company owned by Silas - the husband of Dandy's friend Daisy but the premiums had lapsed. Lena is trying to blackmail Daisy and Silas into paying up for the diamonds.

What follows is a well plotted and complex mystery in which Dandy frequently finds herself out of her depth and floundering. She has the assistance of Alex Osbourne who is engaged to Cara, one of Lena's daughters and they make a very good pair of sleuths.

I liked Dandy as a character and it makes a change to find a married female sleuth whose husband plays very little part in the story. He is useful to invite make guests to stay where Dandy herself cannot invite them because of etiquette but he plays no part in the investigation apart from this. This is the first book in the series.
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on 25 February 2008
I wish I'd written this book. I kept having to remind myself that this novel was written recently by a modern woman rather than its 1920s narrator. As someone who hugely enjoys Margery Allingham and Michael Innes, I felt the excitement of coming across, in a pile of crumbling green Penguins, a classic crime author previously unknown to me. It would have been easy to convince me this story was written 80 years ago. It breathes of its own world, its own time. There's nothing that jars and, although neither the plot or characters resemble either Allingham or Innes, those names spring to mind because of Catriona McPherson's equally haunting and distinctive sense of time and place.

Having read this book I came to Amazon to buy anything else Catriona McPherson had to offer. I read hugely, but most of my books are recycled - either back to the library or the charity shop. There only a few books I keep, and this is always because I know I'll re-read them many times. This author is completely new to me, but I'm charmed already and have just ordered both her other novels.
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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2009
I bought this book because I saw a picture of a book cover that I liked the look of, it happened to be the 3rd one of this series of books, and I thought I should read the others before reading the 3rd!

It actually took quite a bit of getting into, but once I was into it, I was hooked....and now can't wait to read the next two. Very good story, great characters, and a wonderful sense of being in the period it's written about.
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on 9 September 2013
I love being transported to the bygone days when people with money had maids and butlers. When men mixed with (and largely understood) men and women mixed with (and largely understood) women. This book gave me all that, and a mystery to boot! To begin with there was no mystery and it moved quite slowly but because of the social reflections on the times it was nonetheless and good read. Of course, we were soon into the Agataha Christie's Twopence type of investigation which was the reason that I bought it. The impressive thing was that the language used was of that period and was, to some extent, different from today. Catriona has certainly done her research and clearly knows her stuff. Whilst the mystery itself was very convoluted and difficult to fathom out in advance of the reveal, there were aspects that the reader could work out for themself. I would of given this book five stars but for the fact that at the last minute a vital piece of the jigsaw is not revealed by the heroine. She makes reference to it and her "Tommy" sees the light but try as I might, I could not. I thought that I had it but other clues negated that theory - very frustratiing!
The key measure is the answer to the following, "Will I buy books more by Catriona McPherson?". The asnwer is "Most definitely"!!!
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2013
The period and location come across atmospherically, but the plot is nonsense, and obvious nonsense at that. The reader is left with no real idea why anyone did anything - and I would include in that staying married, as it is clear that none of the three main marriages portrayed is in any sense happy and the couple about to get married don't appear to even like each other terribly much - let alone why they went to such extraordinary lengths to do it.
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on 1 October 2007
As a Scotland lover I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, with its mentions of Highland country life, and was intrigued as the scene was set. However, this rapidly led to frustration: first at having to wade through the author's pet technique of using elaborate similies to describe any event, however trivial, and then at the plodding 'plot'. Although Dandy is a quirky character, I wanted more than pages and pages of her thoughts (and those of her sidekick) processing and repeating facts and ideas about the crime. After her first visit to Galloway any action seemed to cease completely, to be replaced by musings about murder and even more about those blessed missing diamonds. If you care about precious stones as much as some of the book's characters, then you might want to read on further, but be warned, you'll have to put up with a wildly far-fetched ending too. What a disappointment. Nice jacket cover though.
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