Dandy Gilver investigates murder when a Russian Circus arrives in rural 1920s Perthshire.
Times are hard for a struggling family circus in the long, cold winter of 1925. With their sons off in America and the last of their big cats long gone, Pa and Ma Cooke are more than happy to accept the offer of free winter standing on the remote Blackcraig estate in Perthshire in return for a few shows to the Wilson family around Christmas time.
Wealthy but brash Albert Wilson is cock-a-hoop to find himself the centre of a circle of bright young things from around the county, agog for the circus and ready to endure his company to get at it.
With the threat of revolution blowing in from the east on the icy gales, Hugh Gilver is less pleased to see the troupe Prebrezhensky ensconced in the valley but the Gilver boys, especially, cannot get enough of Tiny Truman the midget, Andrew Merryman the giant, not to mention the mysterious and beautiful Anastasia, bare-back rider and troublemaker combined.
When Ma Cooke asks for Dandy's help to get to the bottom of a string of spiteful tricks at the winter ground, Hugh gives his approval, one eye on the bank balance as always. But the fun runs out when the silly tricks take a darker turn, leaving one of the performers dead and the Cooke, Wilson and Gilver families fractured amid whispers of murder.
A jaunty romp with a gripping ending... delightful - Observer
As ever, McPherson's research is exhaustive and she captures the patois of the circus people beautifully . . . At the circus, things don't quite turn out as Dandy expects but this simply makes McPherson's delightful tale all the more enjoyable. - Herald
Praise for the Dandy Gilver series: - -
Dan Brown meets Barbara Pym . . . Dandy is brisk, baffled, heroic, kindly, scandalised and - above all - very funny - Guardian
McPherson is on to a winner with her 1920s society sleuth Dandy Gilver, who is the most engaging and ingenious crime-cracker I've met in ages. She is gauche but perceptive, married but unromantic (although there's a lovely frisson to her co-solver), sly but endearingly innocent. The period detail is accomplished and convincing, the crime is neatly convoluted and McPherson's prose bristles with clever asides under a lucid surface. I wouldn't be surprised if she is translated on to the small screen soon, and I can't wait for her next adventure. - Scotland on Sunday on AFTER THE ARMISTICE BALL
Dandy Gilver is an enthralling heroine; part Dorothy Parker, part Miss Marple, utterly engaging. [Catriona] can send chills up your spine and provoke a fit of the giggles in the space of a few short pages. Absolutely wonderful - Kirsty Scott
McPherson is an exemplary crime
Catriona McPherson was born in the village of Queensferry in south-east Scotland in 1965 and educated at Edinburgh University. She left with a PhD in Linguistics and spent a few years as a university lecturer before beginning to write fiction. The first Dandy Gilver novel was short-listed for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger 2005 and the second was long-listed for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award 2007. The series has won two Agathas, two Macavitys, and four Leftys in the USA.Catriona writes full-time and divides her time between southern Scotland and northern California.