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 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) 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)

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to 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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The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

It isn’t the most usual or socially acceptable situation, for two single young women in 1910 Toronto to be exercising their investigative powers on behalf of the city’s downtrodden. But Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts haven’t much time to worry about feminine propriety when two other young women are found dead in The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, a novel by author Rachel McMillan.

This is the second of the Herringford and Watts mysteries I’ve read. I’ll confess I likely won’t form a habit of reading an abundance of murder mysteries, at least not ones that seem to, well, make light or sport of the subject of murder. But I went on to read this novel because in the novella I read before it, A Singular and Whimsical Problem, I noticed the author’s way of making room for comedy in a story without trivializing a serious issue.

And here, in the official Book One of the series, it was a particular pulse running through the entertaining story that tugged at me the most. The pulse of social concerns, prejudice and poverty, and the need for societal reform, as relevant today as in this novel’s early twentieth century setting.

But Merinda, Jem, and their male constable and reporter sidekicks didn’t go bashing me over the head with reformation sermons or anything, as again, this is quite an entertaining work of fiction. It’s got humor, intrigue, romance, a dash of faith, and an upbeat pace.

Sure, the pace seemed to border on being rushed at times, and I had to stop and think now and then, “Wait—how exactly did she end up here, and what is she doing, again?” But, hey, there’s nothing wrong with a story that requires the reader to keep up and pay attention. And while the mystery didn’t throw me for the most surprising loops, it was still fun to go along with the winning cast of characters on the journey.

I’ll definitely be continuing this series.

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Here’s my review of the next Herringford and Watts mystery, Of Dubious and Questionable Memory.

A Singular and Whimsical Problem (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #.5)  Of Dubious and Questionable Memory (Herringford and Watts Mysteries #1.5)  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)

A Singular and Whimsical Problem 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 Singular and Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts aren’t exactly a typical duo of women in Toronto in 1910: two single, female detectives with their own private investigation firm. Their latest, Christmastime case, to find a lady’s missing cat, isn’t the most exciting prospect. But add into the mix a notorious suffragette and young women who’ve been disappearing from a correctional facility, and Merinda and Jem suddenly have their hands full in A Singular and Whimsical Problem, a mystery short by author Rachel McMillan.

Okay, so, off the top of my head, aside from The Boxcar Children and Hank the Cowdog mysteries in my childhood, a good number of Nancy Drew novels and a brief Agatha Christie jaunt in my teens, and my recent trip with The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, my experience with mystery/sleuth reads has been next to nil. Hence, I’m no mystery expert or anything, but I rather enjoyed this novella.

It’s got entertaining dashes of humor, even as it doesn’t make light of a serious human trafficking problem. There’s a lot packed into this quick read, which I liked, though it does seem to lend itself to some choppiness and holes. Some of that may be because the story is a companion to a novel and an introduction to a series, but other minor pieces just might not make complete sense.

Still, the main characters are interesting, the unfolding case is intriguing, there are lovely whispers of romance in the story, and the ending becomes especially Christmassy. This nonexpert in mysteries plans on reading more about Herringford and Watts.

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Here’s my review of the next book in the Herringford and Watts Mysteries series, The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder.

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)

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

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

historical-books-2 nadine keels

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.
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Four Silver Stars

The Illusionist's ApprenticeThe Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Master illusionist Harry Houdini has passed, and people think his former apprentice, Wren Lockhart, must hold the key to Houdini’s well-kept secrets. However, Wren is harboring her own secrets concerning her past. When a public illusion by a rival performer goes horribly wrong, Wren gets caught up in a mystery that will threaten all that she hides, and her very life, in The Illusionist’s Apprentice, a novel by author Kristy Cambron.

The setting of the Jazz Age and the last legs of vaudeville, the intrigue, the tenseness of romance, and the waiting depths of emotion all pulled me to keep turning the pages, though not too fast. I wouldn’t necessarily call this story slow, but the pace is certainly measured and heavy. The read is quite somber, morbidly dark in places. And the mystery involves one kind of occurrence I sigh at in books: when a villain eventually just spills all the beans, explaining their grand scheme to their victims or opponents in a detailed speech or two, before it’s all over.

Still, I’m glad I was patient with this story. It’s ultimately redemptive, with some moving and beautiful aspects that I’ve come to expect from this author of one of my all-time favorite novels, The Butterfly and the Violin. I’m sure many other fans of historical fiction, especially ChristFic readers, will enjoy this intricately-woven tale.