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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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.

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.

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.

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)