Tuesday, November 24, 2020

"The Turning Tide"

Catriona McPherson was born in Scotland and lived there until immigrating to the US in 2010. She writes the multi-award-winning Dandy Gilver series, set in the old country in the 1930s, as well as a strand of multi-award-winning psychological thrillers. Very different awards. After eight years in the new country, she kicked off the humorous Last Ditch Motel series, which takes a wry look at California life. These are not multi-award-winning, but the first two won the same award in consecutive years, which still isn’t too shabby.

McPherson is a proud lifetime member and former national president of Sisters in Crime.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest Dandy Gilver mystery, The Turning Tide, and reported the following:
From page 69:
… certainly concerned with Vesper. Why? Who owns the island? And who owns her cottage? Who is the girl’s employer? Whoever it is, why doesn’t he just sack her and put her out? I know it’s brutal and I’m not recommending it, but it doesn’t make sense that a girl so clearly incapable of carrying out her job is managing to scupper all the plans to turn Cramond Island into Valhalla.’

‘True,’ Alec said.

‘And besides, it makes no sense that the local publican is so dearly concerned with a few holiday cottages cut off from her pub by a coastal causeway. Why does she care? Why does Miss Speir care if it comes to that? And then there’s this place.’ I laid my hands against the stones of the tower.

‘What about it?’

‘If Miss Speir needs money, or cares deeply about Cramond, or both, and has got this eyesore sitting in her garden, why is she merely selling off the stone?’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Alec said. ‘There are so many new houses going up in Edinburgh these days, nasty little things to be sure, but they’d be improved no end with a few mediaeval stones here and there. And this is a bit close to her own house for her to be fixing the roof and getting tenants in.’

I shook my head. ‘What about these mythic tourists?’ I said. ‘Americans, even. If there was a castle in the offing.’

‘It would take a large investment to get a crumbling tower fit for Americans,’ Alec said. ‘But speaking of the tourists: I find it odd that an island earmarked for rich guests to lark about on has been turned over to potato trials. If we’re airing puzzles.’

‘We certainly need to speak to these lads who’re vouching for Vesper.’

‘Apart from anything else they can confirm whether or not Peter Haslett was drunk.’
Hmmmmmmmm. It’s not the easiest page to slip into as far as content goes, is it? What with two people – Dandy and Alec – talking about three others – Vesper, Miss Speir, and Peter Haslett – and flinging out all those questions and theories.

On the other hand, it gives a good impression of the tone of the book and sets it firmly in its historical context. Those “nasty little houses” going up all over Edinburgh in the 1930s were solid, stone-built bungalows set in large gardens, which now sell for millions. And the people who live in them are complaining about “nasty little townhouses” ruining the city. Plus ├ža change.

I was tickled to see American visitors get a mention on the page picked at random for this post. Luring tourists from the US was as dear a hope for Brits then as it is now, and I know from when I used to live in a county bristling with castles (Galloway) that moats, drawbridges and crenulations are a key part of the deal. As for “getting a crumbling tower fit for Americans”, I’ve been here ten years now, and all I can say is I could never go back to British plumbing, castle or no castle!
Visit Catriona McPherson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Turning Tide.

--Marshal Zeringue