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 A Singular and Whimsical Problem.

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)

The Calling of Emily Evans 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.
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The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Prairie settlements are in need of mission workers for local churches, and in Bible school, Emily responds to the call. Desiring to be a wife and mother someday, she imagines she’ll be ministering alongside a preaching husband. However, with no potential husband in sight, Emily decides what’s nearly unthinkable: she’ll head out to open a church on her own in The Calling of Emily Evans, a novel by author Janette Oke.

This is at least the third time I’ve read this novel. It’s the first in one of my all-time favorite series, Women of the West, by one of my all-time favorite authors. The book spoke to me on a number of levels when I read it years ago, witnessing the obstacles a young woman faces when she takes a different path than people expect.

Sure, the book has got some of the common things I’ve never been fond of in these novels. Sentences with too many dashes as the heroine frequently stammers over her words. Tears in her eyes so often that they lose their effect and cease to be interesting.

Yet, even with the overused stammers and tears, Emily is a strong heroine. Not because she feels strong or because she’s out to prove herself to everybody. No, she’s out to be of service. She doesn’t back away from hard work. Her determination springs from caring about people, and she continues to care even when she doesn’t have all the answers.

Even as my perspective shifts and expands over the years, this is still the kind of novel I could read over again.

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

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. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

With the potential for greatness, Lydia is poised to become a notable expert and seller of purple in a Roman world, despite her being a woman–and an unmarried one, at that. But it will take more than success in her trade to free her from deep-seated fears that threaten to be her undoing in Bread of Angels, a novel by author Tessa Afshar.

I don’t have many “I’ll read any novel with his/her name on it” authors, but this author is one of those for me. I got what I was expecting here: a rich and touching story, delving deeply into the life of the heroine in a historical/biblical setting. While this book is certainly a standalone, if anyone may be interested in or plans on reading the novel Land of Silence by Afshar sometime, I’d recommend reading it before this one, for possibly spoiler-ish reasons.

Now, I’ll admit I enjoyed the first two-thirds or so of this novel more than the final parts. Recognizing Lydia from the Bible, I knew the renowned apostle Paul would be a part of this story. But I’ve seen it before in a different book by another author too, when Paul’s presence onstage practically nudges the main character into more of a minor role while Paul is there. Lydia seems to fade somewhat with the incoming of new characters in the later scenes, and as the story stalls a bit in the midst of their increasing Scripture and faith discussions, it felt for a while like I was reading a different book than the one I’d started. It also appears the story runs out of time for some major events and rushes to tie them up with a few short summaries in the last chapter.

Still, I’d gladly recommend this novel to fellow readers of Biblical Fiction, and I’m keeping my eyes open for more from this author.

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)