Funkyfacecat’s #CBR5 Review #09: Dandy Gilver and a Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson

My review of Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder is available on Dandy Gilver and a Deadly Measure of Brimstone occurs a few years later, set in 1929 just before the stock market crash. Dandy Gilver is the wife of a country gentleman,  the mother of two teenage boys, and a detective in the partnership of Gilver & Osborne, which illustrious agency has aided in the solving of several murders as well as insurance scams and jewel robberies between books.

The deadly measure of brimstone, with its associations of hellfire and witchcraft, is in fact the foul-tasting mineral waters of a spa in the tiny town of Moffat near the Scottish border, where people came during the Victorian era to “take the waters” and more recently to enjoy steamrooms and massages–and possibly other, more illicit–and as well as supernatural–goings on. What the comfortable and well-fed patrons don’t realise, however, is how desperate the owners of the spa are to make a profit. The doctor and manager of the spa are brother and sister, but have differing ideas of what to do with the place they inherited, and a patient was found dead under awkward circumstances… Dandy and Alec Osborne arrive into the town to solve a mystery, and Dandy’s family accompanies them to convalesce from pneumonia and whooping-cough. Soon even the family realises that something is rotten, quite apart from the sulphur in the drinking water.

Brimstone is a great read–the chemistry between Dandy and Alec crackles with familiarity and respect, the subplots are slightly unlikely but well-written and good fun, and seeing a maternal Dandy interact with her children–in previous novels away at boarding school or busy with estate managers brings a new dimension to the lady detective. I’ve really enjoyed the whole series of Dandy novels, and I hope there are more to come.

Reginadelmar’s #CBRV Review #20 The Lighthouse by PD James

This past month has been a tough on our household, losing one pet and almost losing the other. Oddly enough reading was not a comfort as it usually is, it was just difficult. I started one book but just couldn’t stay focused.  What better time to turn to an old standard: the British detective Adam Dalgliesh in P.D.James’ The Lighthouse.  The book was like reading a PBS Mystery episode, so very very English. This is the type of book that goes very well with a cup of tea.

Commander Dalgliesh should have been rather long in the tooth by the time this was written, having appeared in James’ books for over 40 years. Perhaps he has a picture of Dorian Gray tucked away in a closet of his flat. In this story he and his team are called to a fictional island off the Cornish coast. It is privately owned and is used solely as a retreat for distinguished visitors from England and other parts of Europe. The population of the island is no more than about 12 people. A guest was found hanging, and it is unclear whether the cause was suicide or murder.

The first several chapters introduce us to the victim and the other residents of the island at the time of the murder.  Not surprisingly the victim wasn’t very nice, so plenty of people had reason to dislike him, perhaps even kill him.  There are a few side stories as well: Commander Dalgliesh wonders if the lady in his life will agree to marry him, his subordinates vie for his approval in order that they might be promoted.

This book fits in what I would call “old school” detective fiction, a nice little “who done it” without too much blood and gore. Overall, it was a pleasant enough distraction during trying times.