This is the second book in the Dandy Gilver series and so far I think it’s my favourite, I don’t know how much I’ve been influenced by knowing the setting fairly well, it’s always a plus as far as I’m concerned when I can easily imagine exactly where I am location-wise in a book. Apart from that I do like Catriona McPherson’s writing, she’s particularly good with different dialects which can be really difficult to get right.
It’s August 1923 and the setting is in and around South Queensferry. The small town has an annual Ferry Fair and the Burry Man plays a big part in it. He’s a bit of a hangover from pagan days I suppose but it’s all a bit of a mystery, you can read about the 2012 Burryman here. And here is a photo of him with his two helpers. This all takes place on the second Friday of August, I’ve marked it down on my calendar – see you at South Queensferry – and on the Saturday too.
If you want to see what South Queensferry looks like have a look at a previous post here.
Back to the book. Not everyone in Queensferry is enamoured of the Burry Man, the various religious ministers/priest aren’t keen on him and the Turnbulls – who are the local temperance, all alcohol is evil, tee-total fanatics are dead against him, because part of the Burry Man’s duties is to go around the town being treated to whisky from everyone.
Robert Dudgeon has been the Burry Man for 25 years but for some reason he doesn’t want to play the part again, although he won’t say why. At the last minute he changes his mind but the day ends in trgedy as the Burry Man drops down dead. Is it natural causes or has he been poisoned?
When all this occurs, Dandy happens to be staying at Cassilis Castle which is actually a fictional place, supposedly somewhere over Dalmeny way, and is owned by her old schoolfriend Buttercup and her American husband Cadwallader. Cad asks Dandy to investigate, which of course she does, with the help of Alec.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery which had me puzzled to the end, a good comfort read. It occurred to me that McPherson deals with Dandy’s husband and family in exactly the same way that children’s authors always have done with parents – that is, she gets rid of them very early on in the story. Just thought I’d mention it. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.