4 March 2016

Review #359: Dandy Gilver and the Unpleasantness in the Ballroom (Dandy Gilver, #10) by Catriona McPherson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within--not without."

----Agatha Christie

Catriona McPherson, an English crime writer, has penned a spell binding and extremely thrilling crime fiction novel, Dandy Gilver and the Unpleasantness in the Ballroom which is the tenth book in the Dandy Gilver mystery series. Dandy Gilver and her sidekick, Alec Osborne's journey continues and this time they travel to Glasgow to solve yet another unraveling mystery where a rich man's daughter, who is a dancer, is subjected to constant life-threatening menace.


Glasgow,1932, is a city in the grip of dance-fever. Public ballrooms and backstreet dancehalls are thronged every night and competition for professional titles is fierce. Even after the sudden death of one of last year's hopefuls there are plenty willing to take his place, and few who stop to wonder why he died. In the melting pot of the Locarno Ballroom in Sauchiehall Street, a debutante rubs shoulders with denizens of Glasgow's meanest streets, her respectable fiance oblivious, her parents dismayed. When she starts receiving threats from a rival, they grow frantic enough to call on Dandy Gilver to save their precious daughter from harm. But as Dandy and her sidekick, Alec Osborne, begin to unravel the secrets of the dancehall, they soon discover that the rot goes much deeper than rivalry and there's more at stake than a silver cup. Despite the pretty frocks and dancing shoes, this apparently glittering world is a darker place than they've ever been before.

Dandy and Alec are two unusual and quirky sleuths solving crimes of their times. This time the mystery is set in 1930s Glasgow, which was then dominated by the culture of tango and foxtrot kind of dances among the upper-class families and also was dominated by some of the greatest and notorious gangster organizations. A debutante dancer's life is in peril as she is constantly receiving life-taking threats. That is when Dandy along with Alec begins an investigation behind the true identity of the culprit and also to find out the motive behind it. The air in one of the most famous ballrooms in Glasgow is then ripe with fierce competitive air for the championships and every dancer is on the verge to remove their opponent from their way due to the pressure. Not to mention this debutante has befriended some people from the gangster community who too are a part of that dancehall. But when bodies started piling up, it became obvious that Locarno Ballroom in Sauchiehall street is not only threatened by rage and jealously amongst the dancers but it is also more darker and evil than that.

The setting is something that will make the readers more drawn into the core of this fast-paced gripping mystery. The story is set in 1930s Glasgow and it is the era of dancing among the aristocrat, and dancing was so largely popular back in those times that dancers fought for the Championships and that intense atmosphere among the dancers have been vividly arrested by the author. from the streets to the grand hotels to the glittering ballrooms, everything have been captured by the author strikingly. Overall, the author have managed to project that charming landscape of this city with its proper hues in the color, brightness and elegance. Not only the city, but the author has reproduced the timeline perfectly.

The writing style of the author is pretty articulate with an equally appealing narrative style that kept me hooked onto this book. The writing is quite layered, sometimes, the tone of the speech turned dark filled with suspense and at times, it shifted to being humorous and witty that gave me a good laugh. The mystery layered with the tension among the dancers is quite evident from the first page and stayed on till the very last page. This whodunit story is a complete page turner that kept me guessing till the very end.

The characters are quirky and are well-developed. The sleuths' modus operandi is quite skillful, unusual and smart. Dandy and Alec both project a lot of realism in them and it is quite hard to miss their witty demeanor. At times, I was laughing so hard with Dandy or Alec's comment and at times, I was frowning and sweating with anticipation to know what is going on inside their heads. The supporting characters are unique, charming and left a lasting impression on my brain.

Overall, this is not like a typical murder mystery story, instead it has an amusing side to it along with it's riveting edge. And the book left me wanting for more action and mystery from Dandy Gilver.

Verdict: A really charming historical mystery which is funny yet thrilling that is set in the city of Glasgow, that is hard to miss.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Catriona McPherson, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Catriona McPherson was born in South Queensferry. After finishing school, she worked in a bank for a short time, before going to university. She studied for an MA in English Language and Linguistics at Edinburgh University, and then gained a job in the local studies department at Edinburgh City Libraries. She left this post after a couple of years, and went back to university to study for a PhD in semantics. During her final year she applied for an academic job, but left to begin a writing career.
These days, McPherson lives with her husband on a farm in the Galloway countryside, where she spends her time writing, gardening, swimming and running.
Visit her here

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