The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s 1914 in Toronto, and Canada is on the brink of joining Britain in the great conflict overseas. Amid the rumblings of a world war, lady detective duo Herringford and Watts looks into a series of murders at home that may or may not be related. Perhaps a fight for justice here can help make Toronto a place more worthy of the troops’ return in The White Feather Murders, a novel by author Rachel McMillan.

Having now read my sixth mystery in this series, I can say that it isn’t exactly the mysteries that keep me coming back. I’m no expert on detective stories, but in these books, the mysteries themselves often feel like almost secondary aspects of the plot. There’s so much more going on about history, about immigration, about the need for social reform, about love, about friendship, about the tension between the duty to one’s family and the call of one’s professional passion.

It’s the “so much more” that most pulls me into these books.

Now, I did feel that the story here might’ve been stalling in a place or two, and perhaps rehashing the same kind of conflicts from the novels before it, without putting enough of a new spin on them. As in the other novels, the point of view seemed to float around sometimes, making it a bit challenging to follow. And I’ve never been a huge fan of the scenario where the bad guy does something like tie up the good guy in the end while the bad guy gives a big explanation, telling why and how he’s been the bad guy all along.

Still, the tension, the splashes of humor, the four central characters I enjoy watching, and the threads of poignancy woven into the story (and, gracious, this novel’s heartrending finish!) are all quite enough to leave me in anticipation of more from this series, if there will be more.

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Here’s my review of A Singular and Whimsical Problem.

  

 

Conductor of Light by Rachel McMillan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Conductor of Light by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s now 1912 in Toronto, and a lady detective duo is on the case when an actor dies onstage during a night of vaudeville theater. Well, actually, a gentleman reporter and constable duo is on the case first. But the four of them eventually team up to get to the bottom of the murder in Conductor of Light by author Rachel McMillan.

It wouldn’t be unfitting if the Herringford and Watts Mysteries were called the Herringford and Watts and DeLuca and Forth Mysteries by now. But that’d be too long a subtitle, of course. Detectives Merinda and Jem certainly aren’t alone on their cases with Jasper and Ray around, and this quartet of characters has really grown on me during the series. I also like this novella’s approach, different from the others, set up like a play.

It’s no secret that I’m quite a fan of short reads. But I’d say the novellas in this series aren’t as strong as the novels are, so far. While the portion of a mystery began rather late in Of Dubious and Questionable Memory, the mystery in Conductor of Light ends rather early while the book keeps…going. Even with the flashes of beauty and poignancy woven into the continuation, it’s as if the story doesn’t know exactly where to stop. I like the first novella best, and though I wouldn’t call the next two unnecessary filler, they do have something of a filler-ish feel.

Nevertheless, I think readers of the series should stop by this quick read if they want extra time with the core quartet and more of the complex pulse of Toronto. Looking forward to reading the next novel!

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Here’s my review of the next Herringford and Watts mystery, The White Feather Murders.

A Singular and Whimsical Problem (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #.5) The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Herringford and Watts, #1) Of Dubious and Questionable Memory (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #1.5)

A Lesson in Love and Murder (Herringford and Watts Mysteries, #2) The White Feather Murders (Herringford and Watts Mysteries, #3)

A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

An anarchist movement and deadly explosions have put 1912 Toronto on edge. While lady detective duo Herringford and Watts get involved in the chaos, they also find themselves juggling matters of the heart concerning the men in their lives. Then, the trail of bombings leads the detectives to Chicago—where they learn of an assassination plot against former president Theodore Roosevelt in A Lesson in Love and Murder, a novel by author Rachel McMillan.

I’ll admit that even though I really like the characters in this series, they tried me at a number of turns in this book. The idea of a detective wishing for a new murder to solve because she needs money doesn’t sit right with me. (What if the next person killed is someone you love, ma’am? Will your electric bill seem so important then?) Nevertheless, as calamity unfolds in the story, there is a definite thread addressing the value of human life.

Now, I’m also not a fan of a woman getting violent with a man she’s fond of when she likely wouldn’t be okay with him doing the same. And there does seem to be a running theme in this series where the men are rather backward or timid about romantically pursuing the women they want. I didn’t laugh as much during the story as I thought I would, and I found two of the crucial action scenes to be somewhat less than believable.

Still, all my nit-picking aside, I truly loved this novel. It hit me with poignancy and depth where I wasn’t expecting it. The complexity of human relationships. The tension between loving one’s city and being compelled to fight against its corrupt systems. Who’d have thought a Herringford and Watts mystery would make my eyes watery, more than once?

On to the next book in the series…

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Here’s my review of the next Herringford and Watts mystery, Conductor of Light.

A Singular and Whimsical Problem (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #.5) The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Herringford and Watts, #1) Of Dubious and Questionable Memory (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #1.5)

Conductor of Light (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #2.5) The White Feather Murders (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #3)

Of Dubious and Questionable Memory by Rachel McMillan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Of Dubious and Questionable Memory by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Lady detective duo Herringford and Watts are at it again in 1911 Toronto, with the case of…a kidnapped rooster. Not much danger there. However, when they receive word from a suffragette friend about an affianced woman gone missing, the case will bring Merinda and Jem to the United States in Of Dubious and Questionable Memory by author Rachel McMillan.

So! Another fun mystery short along the way of this detective series. Only, well, I wouldn’t call it much of a mystery. And I’m not saying that because there’s no murder, as murder mysteries aren’t the only mysteries around.

The story has nice nods to Little Women and Orchard House that fans of Louisa May Alcott can appreciate. There’s much ado about married life, the antics of friends, workers’ rights, and, yes, even hubbub about a rooster. But the actual mystery elements might only take up half of the novella or less.

Hence, I’d tell readers looking for stunning sleuth work not to get their hopes up here, but it’s a worthwhile read to learn more about the characters in the series. On to the next Herringford and Watts novel…

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Here’s my review of the next book in the series, A Lesson in Love and Murder.

A Singular and Whimsical Problem (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #.5) The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Herringford and Watts, #1) A Lesson in Love and Murder (Herringford and Watts Mysteries, #2)

Conductor of Light (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #2.5) The White Feather Murders (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #3)