"Guaranteed to appeal to those who never got over the death of Dorothy L. Sayers."
--Financial Times (UK)
Aristocratic and delightfully witty amateur sleuth Dandy Gilver was greeted with boisterous cheers from readers and reviewers alike in Catriona McPherson's previous outing, Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, which The Boston Globe named one of the best crime novels of 2011. In this new book in this charming and funny series, Dandy is caught between two feuding families who run rival department stores.
Dandy's services are needed when the heiress to one of the stores goes missing. As Dandy starts to unravel long-hidden family secrets, she begins to discover disturbing connections, and it's not long before danger abounds.
"With witty dialogue and low-key humor, McPherson's series is a great choice for Jacqueline Winspear, Carola Dunn, and Amy Patricia Meade fans. A strong traditional offering with sly humor, a love of dogs, and not too much violence. A real contender for the Agathas!"(Library Journal, starred review), Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder is one mystery not to be missed.
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CATRIONA MCPHERSON was born near Edinburgh, where she received her Ph.D. She now lives in Davis, California, with her husband and two cats.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder
1Whatever I was expecting when I decided to take a turn around Dunfermline - I was early for my appointment and it was a particularly pleasant day - it was not this air of jubilance. Indeed, if one were taxed with naming five jubilant towns and ran out of inspiration after Paris, Barcelona, New Orleans and Rio one would not search for the fifth in Scotland's Gazetteer. (And if one were taxed with naming five jubilant towns in Scotland and did not, for some reason, face the facts and pay the forfeit right away, I daresay Dunfermline would still not spring to mind.)Yet I could not help but notice that, today at least, the whole town effervesced in the most remarkable way. The whole city, I should properly say, for - as Hugh never tires of reminding me with much retelling of the glories of King Robert and the shenanigans of Malcolm Canmore - Dunfermline is a city and one groaning with history too: the birthplace of Charles I and more lately (not to mention more beneficially to the world at large) Andrew Carnegie. Indeed I was passing the Carnegie Library now, thinking how generous it was of him to endow it, since here was one place he might have been sure to get a library named after him anyway.As for the present mood, the weather had to be responsible for some of it, but soft spring sunshine and the kind of gentle breeze that teases at hat ribbons and turns the new leaves over to show their silvery undersides only go so far and further explanation was needed for the exuberance of the window displays in all the small shops along Abbot Street and up the Kirkgate, the newly planted flower beds glimpsed through the park gates, as neat as samplers with their white pansies and pink tulips stitchedinto the smooth brown backing, and the giddy high spirits of the girls who flitted about in giggling pairs and threesomes, all decked out in their new spring costumes and with their shingles glistening.There was plenty for them to see: behind the plate-glass windows of a department store called - rather splendidly - House of Hepburn (Hosiers, Glovers, Clothiers and Milliners), instead of the expected outcrops of sensible hats and pyramids of sturdy china there was a series of tableaux showing a beautiful mannequin girl accompanied by a broad-shouldered mannequin admirer, the pair set before a succession of lurid backdrops and dressed in the height of fashion for golf, tennis, the seaside, and - against the most improbable backcloth of all - yachting, complete with ice buckets and open picnic hampers. In the seaside window, I was almost sure, they stood on real sand.I walked on. At another department store further up on the High Street - Aitkens' Emporium (Tailors, Mantle Makers, Silk Merchants, Domestic Bazaar): no less splendid, with just as many enormous windows and a revolving door - one could hardly see the sensible hats and sturdy china for exotic arrangements of ostrich and peacock feathers in urns, silver-sprayed fans of seaweed and gold-sprayed shoals of little fishes sprouting out of conch shells (also gold), with billows of sequined silk on the floor for waves, and around the top of each window ... bunting. Actual bunting, in the dark mauve and gold livery of the store and hanging from golden rope with tasselled ends like the cords which used to hold back dining-room curtains.There was, however, no time to penetrate the revolving door in search of whatever unheard-of delights the fish and feathers were there to advertise: I had used up my store of time in hand and was in danger of being late unless I hurried along and struck the right street first time.The right street - Abbey Park Place - was very easily found, since my amble around the town had taken me close to one end of it already although I was surprised to see how far I had since wandered, but number fifteen was not at all what I had beenimagining. The postcard I had received was of good quality, thick and cream-coloured with the address deeply engraved in plain black, but I had not foreseen how one of at least fifteen houses in a street in Dunfermline could be anything except a sandstone villa, with a bay window above and one below, joined to its neighbour at the front door and inside stairway. In fact, 'No. 15' was merely the Post Office's designation of Abbey Park itself that presented stone gateposts and a lodge house to the street which I supposed had sprung up around it and taken its name. I glanced at my wristwatch and opened the small pedestrian gate set into one of the large ones.There were limits, I soon saw, lodge or no lodge; the drive was only yards long - hardly a drive at all - and the house lay at hand just before me. Nevertheless, it was a solid chunk of good grey Georgian stone, sitting there as calm as a bull walrus on a sunny rock; one of those houses where the carriage circle reaches up to meet the front door but whose grounds drop away to lawns at the back so that the porch spans the basement area like a covered bridge (they always make me think, for some reason, of a sedan chair) and its size and solidity despite the deficiencies of the drive presented me with a problem.For there was no name engraved on the card in my hand, just the address, and I had expected, after rapping on the door of the sandstone villa, to be greeted by whoever had sent it. Clearly, however, this smart black door would be answered by a servant - perhaps even a butler - and I did not know for whom to ask. I pulled the bell and squinted at the card again: Please come at eleven o'clock on the morning of the twenty-fifth. I have an urgent commission to put to you, and an unintelligible string of initials written in a wavery but deliberate woman's hand.Butler indeed it was who answered, a portly sort in mauve and gold, and drawing myself up I conjured my grandest stare and my coolest voice to address him (taking a moment to note, with sadness, from how near at hand I conjured them these days).'Mrs Gilver,' I said, 'to see the lady of the house.' And I waved the card in his direction. He recognised it, but continued frowning.'To see ... Mrs Jack?' he asked. I gave a nod that might have cracked a walnut under my chin; a gesture I had seen in a police superintendent of my acquaintance and had at once decided to add to my own repertoire. 'Step this way, madam,' said the butler and swept me inside.As we clacked across the tiles of the porch, under a soaring arch, across an expanse of pillared hall and under a second soaring arch I peered at the signature, trying and failing to resolve that final initial into a J, then my attention was caught by the sudden blaze of light as we entered a library. The butler left me and I wandered over to the windows, the card - for the moment - forgotten.The room faced due south and was bowed out at the far side, with the three tall windows of the bow looking over the lawns I had glimpsed while arriving. And the light simply poured in - warm, thick, honey-coloured light - rolling lazily in through the rippled old glass and washing the room in gold, making it pulse and gleam.Perhaps it was not a library at all, I judged at a second glance around. To be sure, it was panelled from floor to ceiling and the ceiling itself was covered with panels too, but the wood was some species unknown to me - a rich glossy amber, smelling of wax and resin in the sunshine, and as far from the good dark oak of libraries as could be imagined. Add to this the fact that there were no bookshelves and it seemed less of a library still.Then, lifting up the velvet cover from one of a number of shrouded tables, I saw that there were books after all. The cover had been guarding a glass-topped case, flattish but tilted a little for display, and in it was what looked to be a book of hours, open at a calendar page. I bent over this surprising item the better to study its decoration and marvel at its obvious antiquity and was still in that undignified position - stooped and snooping - when a gentle cough from the doorway caused me to drop the cover back again. The brass rod along its edge clattered onto the frame and, turning, I banged my ankle against one of the table legs.'Mrs Gilver?' said a voice.'Mrs Jack?' She had stopped in the doorway and stood there for a moment in a frame of that glowing, honeyed wood like a painted saint in an altar panel. It would have been a comely setting for ninety-nine women out of a hundred but it did not flatter this one, at least not today. She was about fifty, I guessed, but anxiety or exhaustion had further aged her; her face was tight, her skin pale and her long dark-red hair was bundled back into an inexpert knot from which great hanks of it were escaping. She wore a wool shawl over her dress and tugged it closer around herself as she moved towards me.'Have you brought news?' she said, searching my face. Her eyes were drawn up into diamond shapes, red-rimmed.'I--' I began, but she interrupted me.'Have you discovered her? Has she been found?''I--' I said again and then mutely held out the postcard for her to see. She blinked at it and then looked back at me.'From my mother,' she said. 'My goodness, my mother actually wrote to ... Who are you?''I do apologise, Mrs Jack,' I answered. 'My name is Dandy Gilver. I asked for the lady of the house, you see. Perhaps someone might fetch your mother now?''But who are you?' she said again, all politeness, all decorum driven away by whatever suffering had caused the careless hairdressing and the shawl.I hesitated. It would be monstrously unprofessional to discuss a case with anyone but my client in person and ordinarily I would not have dreamt of doing so, but surely her worry sprang from the same source as her mother's card.'I'm a detective,' I said. 'Now, someone's missing?''A detective,' she echoed, going over to a ...
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