The Reek of Red Herrings

Written by Catriona McPherson
Review by Susan McDuffie

1930: Dandy Gilver and her sidekick, Alec Osborne, take on a daunting task. Several barrels of a prestigious herring processor’s product have been unpleasantly adulterated, and the manufacturer wants the issue quietly cleared up. Dandy and Alec’s assignment brings them to the gloomily quaint fishing village of Gardenstown on the Scottish coast. As the villagers prepare to celebrate Christmas, along with five weddings, Dandy and Alec take up residence in Miss Euphemia Clatchie’s freezing guesthouse. Posing as traveling philologists, they immerse themselves in the village celebrations and their investigation. Their efforts uncover several missing persons, all strangers to the village, but their original problem remains unresolved.

This book moves along at a madcap pace, immersing the reader into the world of the herring fisheries of almost a century ago. The vividly drawn characters and customs of former years are well worth any struggles the reader might experience with the Doric dialect, while the dramatic and totally unexpected ending provides a lively resolution to this excellent mystery. Recommended.