I awaken early, six-ish as like as not, since that is when Bunty, darling dotty dog, dog of my life, begins her day, trampling on my counterpane, shaking her ears and letting out her unbearthly moaning yawn until I get up and let her out of my bedroom. She can always be sure of finding a housemaid somewhere to open a garden door.

I doze until the arrival of the tweenie to light my fire and at her heels Becky, the head parlourmaid, bringing my tea. Two cups with sugar are needed to fortify my morning self for the third entrance: that of Grant, my maid, with her curling irons and her latest thoughts on my wardrobe, gleaned from the fashion magazines to which she has persuaded me to take out subscriptions.

I breakfast upon perfectly poached eggs and strong coffee, opposite the front and back pages of The Times, behind which Hugh, my husband, eats his porridge. I sometimes yearn for a little desultory conversation but I am glad that the eating is hidden from me. My husband is a Scot and the Scots’ idea of a nice dish of porridge is anyone else’s idea of a hideous stodgy mess one would not feed to a hungry sow. And salted too.

After breakfast, Hugh retires to his business room to commune with his steward on the endless fun of the estate and I, after a short walk with Bunty in the drizzle, rain, hail or snow (depending on the season), retire to my sitting room in the south-east corner of the house to open my post, pay bills, accept or decline invitations and read what letters my acquaintance might have sent me.

Thus far my life mirrors that of my mother before me, and hers before her, except in the matter of corsetry. When it comes to the letters I read, however, my life is as far from theirs as if I had pulled on britches and joined a pirate band. For in my correspondence might be missing diamonds, vanished lovers, moonlight maraudings, even the threat of murder. I have lately added to my address book miners and farmers and suffragettes and – once, I am almost sure – witches. My acquaintance, in short, is wider than it used to be.

I have stopped mid-morning for ashy potatoes around the campfire with circus folk, dined at noon off bacon and cabbage in a millworker’s cottage, supped with twelve others in a servants’ hall who thought I was one of their own. So you see, my day might begin with breakfast in my own dining room, and the front and back pages of The Times, but since I took up detecting, where I shall be by luncheon is anyone’s wager.

You can read more about Dandy in DANDY GILVER AND AN UNSUITABLE DAY FOR A MURDER, the sixth book in the “Dandy Gilver” mystery series.

** Thanks to the Catriona, I have one (1) copy of DANDY GILVER AND AN UNSUITABLE DAY FOR A MURDER to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends May 26. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
Catriona McPherson is the author of the Dandy Gilver series of mysteries, set in Scotland in the 1920s where – but not when – she was born. The series has been nominated for a CWA Dagger and a Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year award in the UK and launched in the US last year, with Dandy Gilver and The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, which Hallie Ephron named one of the top ten crime novels of 2011 in the Boston Globe. The latest installment – Dandy Gilver and An Unsuitable Day for a Murder – is published in hardback on the 29th of May. Since 2010, Catriona has lived on twenty acres in a beautiful valley in northern California where she is slowly learning to garden in a Mediterranean climate. The plants don’t look good but the blogs about them can be entertaining. Visit the Dandy Gilver website at www.dandygilver.com or Catriona’s at http://catrionamcpherson.blogspot.com

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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