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.

_________

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.

__________________

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

 

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

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.

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Terrence Morgan has no interest in investigating any more troubles of little importance at the Fargenstropple estate, especially since he’s been promoted to Chief Inspector at work. But when stolen family jewels factor into the estate’s latest disturbance, Terrence doubles down in The Fargenstropple Case by author Lia London.

Delightful! Simply delightful, this short and sweet mystery is. It has a positively British flair, complete with British spellings and characters with a pleasant bunch of surnames, such as Nigglesby and Crumfellow. There are also plenty of animals (including rodents, if you don’t mind those), and a jaunty thread of romance adds to the fun. I ran into a few minor grammar issues concerning dialogue tags, but it’s possible they’re there intentionally, for comedy’s sake.

I count it a boon to sometimes find mysteries that involve cases other than murder. Of course, murder-less mysteries don’t all have to be as quirky as this one, but if you’re looking for an hour or two of light and hilarious entertainment with clever twists, you’d do well to check out this little number.

 

Finding Miranda by Iris Chacon

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.

Finding Miranda by Iris Chacon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Miranda is a shy librarian who’s new in town and chronically invisible. So it’s ironic when her handsome neighbor, Shepard, sees her–even though he, well, doesn’t. And not to mention that now there are some men around who see both Miranda and Shepard and apparently want them dead in Finding Miranda, a novel by author Iris Chacon.

I wasn’t sure what this book was, exactly, when I picked it up. A cozy mystery? A romance? Chick lit, maybe? Well, no, not chick lit. But now that I’ve read it, I can’t say as I truly know what to call this romantic comedic mysterious heart-tugging thingamabob of a book. But I enjoyed the heck out of it!

I thought the read would be more Miranda-central than it is, but it includes other characters’ perspectives, and that’s okay. Miranda is one unique cookie, the romance is too cute, and though I (lover of love that I am) very, very rarely ever read of a hero I’d call swoon-worthy, I might call Shepard that. Not because of his long hair or muscly build (honestly, the more it seems a story is trying to make me swoon over a romantic hero’s looks, the more it annoys me.) But Shepard shines as a layered, likable, flawed, and interesting person, not just the dashing or lovey-dovey figure the heroine falls for because that’s what’s “supposed” to happen in romances.

And the mystery. It’s not a whodunit or sleuthing type of thing, but it includes some politics, corruption, enough danger to keep you suspicious, and it actually escalates to the gripping level of a thriller.

Yet, the story remains its own, remarkable something, where the humor is quirky but the tale isn’t silly. The characters aren’t just caricatures that stuff happens to, and the story doesn’t pull punches and let everyone off easy. It came to a point or two when I had to set the book aside and give my affected heart a break for a minute.

Oh, and for the dog lovers, did I mention the cast of characters includes an awesome dog?

Here’s a winning tale with a bespectacled woman in the bushes and a great message on where courage comes from. I’d highly recommend this book to fellow readers who can rightly appreciate a thingamabob.

___________

Note to my blog readers: this novel contains just a smidgen of crude humor and minimal profanity.