Upstairs gets to see how downstairs lives.
Mrs. Philip Balfour of Edinburgh begs Dandy Gilver, an upper-class sleuth with a nose for crime, to help protect her from the erratic husband she fears is planning to kill her. So Dandy agrees to pose as Lollie Balfour’s maid. It’s a tough sell, but with a cheat sheet from her own maid, Dandy manages to convince the other servants that she’s a lady down on her luck. Downstairs are Fould the butler, whose lax ways may stem from his background in the theater, and 11 other servants. It seems that Phillip Balfour has found a way to torture all of them, sexually harassing the women and discovering the men’s secret fears. When Phillip is found with his throat cut, Dandy, with help from her fellow upper-class sleuth Alec Osborne (The Burry Man’s Day, 2007, etc.), begins a difficult investigation. The local superintendent, discovering Dandy’s identity, is more than happy to let her do much of the heavy lifting, since every police officer in England is mired in the general strike that has brought the country to its knees. Dandy learns a lot more than she’d ever cared to ask about how the poor live and finds her attitude toward the strikers changing as she probes the servants’ private lives.
McPherson’s charmingly witty heroine once again keeps you guessing while you enjoy the historical tidbits.