After the Armistice Ball (2005) Catriona McPherson
The first in the Dandy Gilver mystery series set just after the first world war. Dandy, like many women, is finding life a bit dull after doing service work during the war. Taking an entire morning to deal with correspondence just seems like a huge waste of time. So, when her friend Daisy Esslemont invites her to her country estate to lend a hand with a little contretemps over some missing diamonds, she's eager for the chance. Not especially accomplished as an amateur sleuth--but eager.
It seems that the fabulous Duffy diamonds went missing after the last Armistice Ball held at the Esslemont estate. Now, did Lena Duffy scream down the house when a burglar rustled around with her jewelry case and woke her up that night. No, of course not. She just got up, calmly looked out into the hallway (whence the burglar supposed went), saw nothing, assured herself that there was still jewelry in the case, and went back to bed. Why all the fuss now? Well...the Duffy's youngest daughter is set to be wed and we want the diamonds to be all shiny for the ceremony, so they were taken to a jewelers to be cleaned and polished. And the jeweler pronounced them to be fake. So, now Lena Duffy (who loves these jewels like their her only beloved child) is making a ruckus and demanding that the Duffys make restitution...for a robbery they didn't even know had happened.
Of course, the story has more holes in it than a chunk of swiss cheese, but Lena says some ominous things that makes it seem like she's got something else to hold over the head of Silas Duffy (blackmail?) and Dandy starts asking questions with the aim of finding out what is really behind all Lena's huffing and puffing. But her investigation is derailed when tragedy strikes the Duffy household and an even more sinister mystery appears.
This is a decent debut novel in the Dandy Gilver series. Dandy is a somewhat haphazard amateur sleuth and gets a hefty dose of assistance from Alec, the fiancé in the impending wedding. But it is a fun read with interesting characters and one hopes that Dandy will grow into her detective shoes (after all, there are fourteen or so more books in the series...). A good choice for those who enjoy the Golden Age era and who are looking for a quick read. ★★★
First line (Prologue): Lustre. That was what had been missing and was suddenly back.
First line (Ch. 1): I am not--and I say this with neither pride nor shame--a sensitive soul.
Last line: No, Lena, not so stupid after all.
Deaths = two fell from height