Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble by Catriona McPherson

Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble

Scotland, 1934. Aristocratic private detective Dandy Gilver arrives at Castle Bewer, at midsummer, to solve the tangled mystery of a missing man, a lost ruby and a family curse.The Bewer family's latest wheeze to keep the wolf from the door is turning the castle keep into a theatre. While a motley band of players rehearse Macbeth, the Bewers themselves prepare lectures, th...

Title:Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble
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Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:400 pages

Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble Reviews

  • Elaine Tomasso

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an advance copy of Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble, the 12th novel to feature posh private detectives Dandy Gilver and Alec Osborne.

    It is 1934 and Dandy receives a letter from old friend Minnie Bewer asking her and Alec to come to Bewer Castle to help with security when they open the doors to paying visitors and a theatre company. When they get there their remit changes and they are asked to look for the Cut Throat, a cur

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an advance copy of Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble, the 12th novel to feature posh private detectives Dandy Gilver and Alec Osborne.

    It is 1934 and Dandy receives a letter from old friend Minnie Bewer asking her and Alec to come to Bewer Castle to help with security when they open the doors to paying visitors and a theatre company. When they get there their remit changes and they are asked to look for the Cut Throat, a cursed ruby necklace that disappeared 30 years ago at the same time as Minnie's father in law, Richard.

    This is the first novel in the series that I have read so I'm a little late and I feel that I would have got more from this novel if I had more of Dandy's backstory as some of the references to her family situation imply a knowledge I don't have.

    The novel itself is a bit of a mixed bag. The plot bumbles along with Dandy and Alec positing all sorts of outlandish theories until an extremely complicated solution is revealed, some of which I guessed early on, some of which defies belief. It's not exactly a rigorous investigation.

    There is a large cast of characters to keep up with from the Bewer household to the actors and visiting Americans. They are painted in broad brush strokes but no more is required.

    Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble is not a challenging read more a light hearted, pleasant stroll through some unlikely and sometimes funny situations.

  • Annabel Frazer

    This is a fun romp for those who like historical detective stories. Compared to some of the books in this series, the single setting makes it easier to follow (they can get over-complicated - see my comments below) and the structure of planning and putting on a play helps with the pacing. But the other reviews suggest that some readers found it hard to follow and I sympathise.

    I am a fan of this series and have read them all - and glancing through the other reviews, I would say this puts me at an

    This is a fun romp for those who like historical detective stories. Compared to some of the books in this series, the single setting makes it easier to follow (they can get over-complicated - see my comments below) and the structure of planning and putting on a play helps with the pacing. But the other reviews suggest that some readers found it hard to follow and I sympathise.

    I am a fan of this series and have read them all - and glancing through the other reviews, I would say this puts me at an advantage of knowing more about Dandy's family background. However, I'd also say that said family background is the strength of the series and we could all have done with seeing more of it.

    Dandy herself, her witty relationship with her friend Alec (and it was daring in her era to have a friend of the opposite gender), her fractious relationship with her husband Hugh (from which just as much entertainment is to be got) and her sons, servants and various friends are at the heart of the series. My impression is that these books are tricky to write and it would be hardly surprising if so as in each case, the setting of the murder plot is different - a nunnery, a department store, a fishing community. Researching these different period settings must be hard work and a lot of it is wasted (on me at any rate) because I don't know much about the period myself and I get quickly lost in the plot. If the author was to sketch the setting a little more lightly and lean more heavily on Dandy and her family for comic relief, the books might be easier to write and more fun.

    She could also do with simplifying the plots - which again, would be less work. I get lost in the family tree in almost every book and thus the revelations which come thick and fast in the final section are wasted on me because I am struggling to keep track of who is related to who and what the key dates are. (And as an aficionado of Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, I don't believe keeping track of an family-centred plot is beyond me.) As a writer myself, I know how difficult it is to restrain oneself from adding extra twists and turns at every stage (either because you fear the whole thing is too obvious and straightforward or because once you've thought of a twist, like Agatha Christie's Mrs Oliver you can't bear not to use it), but the safest advice with plotting is that less is more.

    Overall, if you like historical detective stories, I would say that the Dandy Gilver series are slow-paced and have their flaws, but atmospheric and well worth enjoying (with the first one, After The Armistice Ball and The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains being two of my favourites).

  • ireadnovels.wordpress.com

    Dandy Gilver is brisk, baffled, heroic, kindly and scandalised.

    Scotland 1934. Fair is foul and foul is fair as aristocratic private detective Dandy Gilver heads off to Castle Bewer to solve a mystery of a missing ruby necklace and a tragic family curse. She arrives as the residents are preparing to stage a production of MacBeth, yet sinister goings on seem to be more than amateur dramatics. Dandy Gilver and a spot of Toil and Trouble hardback is published by Hodder and Stoughton 13th July 2017.

    Dandy Gilver is brisk, baffled, heroic, kindly and scandalised.

    Scotland 1934. Fair is foul and foul is fair as aristocratic private detective Dandy Gilver heads off to Castle Bewer to solve a mystery of a missing ruby necklace and a tragic family curse. She arrives as the residents are preparing to stage a production of MacBeth, yet sinister goings on seem to be more than amateur dramatics. Dandy Gilver and a spot of Toil and Trouble hardback is published by Hodder and Stoughton 13th July 2017.

    I thought that it would be nice to give you readers .....

    Facts and Fiction

    Castle Bewer's location and lay-out owes something to Caerlaverock Castle and anyone who makes an excursion to it will recognise some features. However Mespring House does not exist in Dumfriesshire or anywhere else, but some of its decorative excess will be familiar to anyone who has visited enough major historic piles.

    I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy to review.

  • Paromjit

    This pays some homage to the golden age of crime, set in the world of impoverished 1930s aristocrats facing change as it gets more difficult to raise the finances to afford their estates and castles, in the face of mounting debt and death duties. It is set in Scotland, and detective Dandy Gilver and her partner Alec Osborne arrive at the thirteenth century Brewer Castle, the home of Minnie and Bluey, and Ottoline. They are there to get to the bottom of a missing necklace of rubies, assumed to be

    This pays some homage to the golden age of crime, set in the world of impoverished 1930s aristocrats facing change as it gets more difficult to raise the finances to afford their estates and castles, in the face of mounting debt and death duties. It is set in Scotland, and detective Dandy Gilver and her partner Alec Osborne arrive at the thirteenth century Brewer Castle, the home of Minnie and Bluey, and Ottoline. They are there to get to the bottom of a missing necklace of rubies, assumed to be with Ottoline's estranged husband, Richard, who deserted the family to go abroad. It is thought he is dead, but there is a question mark over where the necklace could be. The necklace is a symbol of a feud between the Brewers and the Annandales at Mespring. It is cursed and rumours abound in its role in the gory death of a Brewer bride after Anne Annandale was jilted.

    It turns out Dandy's mission is more complicated, her and Alec are to provide security for a group of actors putting on the cursed Scottish Play at the Castle to raise revenue and the American tourists staying there. The scene is set for mayhem and laughs, with ghosts, misunderstandings, and the clash of tradition vs the need for change. The Brewers are expecting to lose their home and they have worries about the elderly Ottoline being moved to reside elsewhere. Cordelia Grant, Dandy's lady's maid, is over the moon about being involved in the stage production and having minor acting roles. Turbulent circumstances mean that Alec and even the grimly resistant Dandy are roped in. In a tale of family secrets and lies, the detectives dig deep to expose the truth.

    It took me quite a while to settle into this book and it was halfway before I got fully engaged with the story. It can seem as if the plot meanders until the story begins to gather pace and momentum. There are plenty of comic touches and humour to keep the interest of the reader but the plot needs to be tightened up. However, all in all, I did enjoy reading the novel, which often feels like a historical farce on occasion. It's strength is the characters, Dandy is a fine, upstanding and independent woman working in an area where women are rarely seen at this time. This does not delve into the harsh economic realities of the historical period, it is more a light, entertaining, and escapist read. Thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.

  • Angelnet

    Check out all my reviews at

    As usual I’ve done my normal trick of picking up a book far along in a series! This is book twelve in McPherson’s cosy crime series about an aristocratic private detective in the 1930s. If you are a fan of traditional Agatha Christie mysteries or P.G.Wodehouse I think that you’ll really enjoy this humorous and lively mystery story.

    Dandy Gilver and her detective partner Alec Osborne arrive at a friend’s castle in Scotland. The impending issues of

    Check out all my reviews at

    As usual I’ve done my normal trick of picking up a book far along in a series! This is book twelve in McPherson’s cosy crime series about an aristocratic private detective in the 1930s. If you are a fan of traditional Agatha Christie mysteries or P.G.Wodehouse I think that you’ll really enjoy this humorous and lively mystery story.

    Dandy Gilver and her detective partner Alec Osborne arrive at a friend’s castle in Scotland. The impending issues of death duties and their effect on the estate has necessitated a search for a long lost family jewel. As Dandy and Alec begin the search for the ill-fated and cursed ruby a band of actors arrive at the castle to begin a season of Shakespeare that will hopefully raise some more money for the family.

    As the rehearsals proceed for the equally cursed Scottish play – he who shall not be named! – Dandy soon discovers that there are much worse deeds taking place behind the scenes than there are on the stage.

    The story does take a little while to get going. The opening sets the scene for the social setting and explains a bit more about the mores of the day. It is interesting in that it is set in a Downton-esque period of flux where staff in great houses are dwindling and women are becoming more independent in their own right.

    You don’t need to have read the rest of the series to enjoy this book although I will be adding them to my very long reading list to go back to. Its a fun and comfortable read with interesting characters and an astute leading lady.

    Supplied by Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.


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