Dress Down Sunday: underwear on the line

Dress Down Sunday
- looking at what goes on under the clothes

the book:

Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses by Catriona McPherson

published 2012   chapter 7

While I stood there, I saw something move from the corner of my eye. A dark figure was flitting up the farmhouse garden, racing towards the house. It disappeared around the corner leading to the yard and I heard a door bang. Sure that I was safe from the dogs, for no farmer’s wife alive would let them into her garden, I squeezed through the gap between the gatepost and the wall and crept closer. She had been hanging out washing; a basket of linen sat in the middle of the patch of grass and a pair of underdrawers hung by one leg where she had abandoned them. Rather a splendid garment for a sheep farmer’s wife, I thought, studying the satin waist-tape and the lace trim. And next to them on the line . . . I blinked.

‘Never,’ I said out loud. ‘Preposterous.’ For next along the clothes line to the splendid underdrawers was a bandeau brassiere in the same white linen with straps of the same satin tape and no Scottish farmer’s wife from Gretna Green to John o’ Groats could possibly possess such a thing. Not only was it a bandeau instead of a chemise, but a bandeau of a texture and outline that was positively . . . ‘Parisian,’ I said, and I was over the wall and round the corner before any thought of a collie with ice-pick teeth could stop me.

observations: Dandy Gilver again, in her most recent adventure. This time, joy of joys, she is investigating events in a girls’ school – like many hardcore detective fans, Clothes in Books does love a book set in an academic institution. And clothes are a major feature in Dandy’s life, so all in all these are the perfect books for us.

As ever, the plot is preposterous, but riveting, the relation with Alec done so well, and the whole book full of very funny scenes. There’s a particularly fine moment when there’s a knock on her bedroom door.

[themaid] Grant and I stared at one another and ran through all possibilities swiftly… ‘Come in?’ I said and Grant nodded, approving my handling of this unheard-of development in our lives. The door opened, revealing Hugh.

Hugh is her husband.

Links up with: Dandy’s previous investigation was in a
department store. Here’s another murder story among the students. An important discussion of chemises and bras in a similar era is here  - 'under your dress you are naked'...

The picture is by John Sloan and can be found on
Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Moira - Oh, I can't resist an academic mystery either. And let's face it; undergarments are a pretty basic part of one's wardrobe. Why not focus on them? Oh, and I do like the writing in the passages you've shared - thanks :-)

  2. The picture is perfect for the passage, especially the underclothes!

  3. I think this is my favorite Dandy, so far. I also loved the academic background. Dandy and Alec had more balanced activity in this one, and the two plots fit together nicely. All the characters were a little fuller, too. Even Hugh and Donald had a bit more to do than their usual cardboard cut-out behavior.

    I couldn't help but think of Imelda Staunton's Dolores Umbridge whenever she described Ivy Shanks. I wonder if she had Umbridge in the back of her mind when she created that character?

    Also, from what I've been able to glean, most of my Scottish ancestors came from western Scotland. So, it's interesting to read about the area. But I found my ninth g-grandmother was from Kirkoswald which is fairly close to Turnberry. Yuck, yuck, YUCK.

    1. I love any book set in a school or college, so yes I loved this one too. I'd be hard put to name a favourite though.
      Your casting sounds good - I'm always surprised the books haven't been made into a TV series or film yet.


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