Who killed the Punch and Judy man ?

The Mirror Dance by Catriona McPherson is the fifteenth in a series and the first I have read. I don’t think that this disadvantaged me in any way but it was obvious that some of the main characters had a history which affected their relationships. It’s a crime story very much at the cosy end of the genre and is set in Scotland in the 1930s.

The main character is Dandy (apparently short for Dandelion) who lives in some style in the country. With her neighbour Alec she has formed and runs a detective agency. Dandy is an older woman, as she has at least one grown up child, and Alec is younger. They are both clearly upper middle class and nicely off – I expect that previous books in the series would tell me why they formed a detective agency.

Dandy and Alec are called to Dundee where the owner of a local popular newspaper, which features comic characters, has been told that a travelling Punch and Judy performer in the town is using their characters in his work. Dandy is asked to serve a “cease and desist” notice on the performer for breach of copyright but when she attends his performance she finds him dead.

There is quite a puzzle to solve. How has the Punch and Judy performer been killed without anyone seeing the murder ? Is the newspaper involved in his murder ? Is there any connection with the death of a similar performer with exactly the same name fifty years previously ? Who are the women who seem to be part of the crime ? There are plenty of suspects and lots of misdirection before the mystery is resolved.

I enjoyed reading how the team disentangle the different threads and how they work out what is going on. I have to say that I had solved the mystery in my head before we got to the denouement but I thought that the plotting was nicely complex and there were some interesting characters. The story also shines a light on the theatre at this time and the ways in which travelling performers operated.

This is enjoyable enough, although nothing special, and if I saw others in the series I would happily read them.

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