Murder at the Flamingo 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. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

“If I was smart, I would pick up my hat and gloves and never return here. But we’re going to solve this.” She held on to that. “We are going to solve this murder.”

Set on accomplishing something independent of his father’s help, Hamish DeLuca goes to Boston, where his cousin is opening a posh nightclub. Regina “Reggie” Van Buren is also in search of independence, away from the society life she grew up in. But she and Hamish never expected they’d be joining forces to solve a mystery in Murder at the Flamingo by author Rachel McMillan.

After the way I enjoyed all of the Herringford and Watts mysteries by this author, there was no question I’d be reading this novel. McMillan has a distinct way of personifying a city, and 1937 Boston comes to life here, the social climate pulsing between different classes. Plus, I dig a hero (or heroine) who wears glasses!

Even with the title, though, murder isn’t a part of the plot until more than halfway through the story. While I do appreciate the character development along the way, I found much of the read to be slow, and my interest lagged until about the last third of the novel. Also, due to a “feelings back and forth between two men” kind of love triangle setup I tend not to care for, the end of the book was a downer for me.

Now, I feel I should mention to fellow ChristFic lovers that this isn’t a “come to Jesus” kind of story. Still, 1) this is a new series, and you can’t judge an entire faith arc by one book (or by one “book” or season of any person’s life, in real life); 2) I’ve already seen this author’s finesse with faith before, even without quoting scriptures and such; and 3) there are themes in this novel that should indeed be important to people of faith, if you can recognize and appreciate them.

All things considered, I’m looking forward to next year’s release of the second Van Buren and DeLuca mystery.

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Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

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.

Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

The 1937 silver screen is sparkling, and though Lillian Frost hasn’t made it as an actress, she’s okay with working in a Los Angeles department store. But then her salesgirl job ties her to the case of a murdered Hollywood hopeful in Design for Dying by authors Renee Patrick.

Yes. I said “authors,” there. I was delighted to see that Renee Patrick is the pseudonym of a husband-and-wife author duo. How fun is that?

And this historical mystery novel is rather fun too, but not silly fun. Lillian has a mild, dry humor to her, and though she hasn’t yet found her ideal place in life, she’s got a good head on her shoulders. There’s a crisp smartness to the story’s style, and it’s entertaining without trivializing the murder or the seamy side of Hollywood glamour.

I’ll admit it’s borderline material for my quasi-conservative tastes, partly due to the moderate amount of language I wouldn’t use. But the novel does hold to a level of tact, and it helps that Lillian isn’t a starry-eyed chickadee zooming recklessly down Sunset Boulevard’s fast lane.

While this is a Lillian Frost & Edith Head novel, it’s told from Lillian’s perspective. So I would’ve liked if she ultimately played a stronger role in the solving of the case, instead of more or less being along for the ride when the rubber finally meets the road.

Still, the story’s nod to Lillian’s mother’s legacy is touching. And in all, as the novel has left me in the mood to once again watch the 1937 version of A Star is Born, I think it’s done its job.

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Design for Dying is the first Lillian Frost & Edith Head novel.

 

Heart of the Wilderness by Janette Oke

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.

Heart of The Wilderness by Janette Oke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Kendra is orphaned at a very young age, her grandfather, George, sees no better choice than to take her to live with him in the backwoods. But given that George has lived alone as a trapper for years, the life he provides Kendra, away from the city, may not be enough for her in Heart of the Wilderness by author Janette Oke.

I first read this novel a number of years ago, so it didn’t hold any big surprises for me. Indeed, it’s not the kind of read for major surprises or twists. It’s a simple, easygoing story with only a few characters most of the way through.

Now, while I’ve enjoyed a good deal of this author’s easy reading over the years, this one almost seems to wander along the path of Kendra’s childhood, girlhood, and young womanhood. There’s not really a driving focus until quite late in the book. Then the last few chapters awkwardly rush to pull the faith theme together, to introduce some rather last-minute characters, and also to squeeze in a new, underdeveloped romance.

Nevertheless, even with the weaknesses I recognize in these novels, I still consider the Women of the West series to be one of my all-time favorites. It’s trailblazing fiction: some of the first of its kind in ChristFic as we now know it. Historical stories that are easy to digest but that also tuck some important nuggets inside.

 

Giveaway: The Movement of Crowns Series

Even after devastation, all is not lost.
The Movement of Crowns Series by Nadine C. Keels

“Overall, The Movement Of Crowns series is an excellent read. The stories are compelling, the people are very well written. I thoroughly enjoyed all three books.” ~iRead Book Reviews

Find the giveaway for these three books in the Faith, Hope, and Book Love group on Facebook.
Giveaway ends July 6, 2018.