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A Deadly Measure of Brimstone: A Dandy Gilver Mystery    by Catriona McPherson order for
Deadly Measure of Brimstone
by Catriona McPherson
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a delightful cozy series that reminds me somewhat of Agatha Christie's Tommy & Tuppence books (except that the detecting duo here are not husband and wife). A Deadly Measure of Brimstone is the fourth episode, so I have some catching up to do.

The series is set in 1920s Scotland where our heroine, Dandy Gilver, is a member of the upper classes. She's married to Hugh and they have two sons, Teddy and Donald. As the mystery opens in September 1929, the three men of the family have had influenza for over a month and 'maids and footmen were dropping like grouse'. Even the butler and housekeeper come down with it, and now there's scarlet fever in the village too.

Dandy escapes the chaos to visit her neighbor (the other half of their detecting duo), Alec Osborne. They've been asked to investigate what the family believe to have been a murder (the police ruled it natural causes) of a Mrs. Addie at Laidlaw's Hydropathic Establishment (where one takes the waters) in Moffat. Deciding to kill two birds with one stone, Dandy packs up the family and heads for the hills, not sharing her true objective with Hugh, who would disapprove. Alec soon joins them in Moffat.

They find it an odd sort of spa, with clearly delineated classes of visitors - the old crowd interested in the hydropathic treatments, an influx of spiritualists, and bright young things who are there for casino evenings. The spa is owned by a brother and sister, Thomas and Dorothea Laidlaw, the former a gambler, the latter a physician very focused on her research. Complicating matters, Dandy is told that Mrs. Addie had seen a ghost on the day of her death.

In between sampling Turkish and Russian baths and chatting up spa staff, Dandy keeps digging (with a little help from Alec), and eventually hits bedrock. The truth is a shocker, for the reader and for Alec. I enjoyed A Deadly Measure of Brimstone for Dandy's engaging character and the atmospheric settings even more than the mystery. This is a cozy series I plan to follow.

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