Book Review: The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

Finishing a wonderful book series always has its pluses and minuses. The great thing? A wrapped-up storyline and a picture of what happily-ever-after looks like for the characters. The sad thing? Saying goodbye with these two words: “The End”. The ending of The White Feather Murders (book 3 in series) by Rachel McMillan had all the right elements to be satisfactory while leaving room to dream and wonder about the future of the characters of the Herringford and Watts Mysteries. (and, with recent bookish news from Rachel, I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear about this troupe.)

*note: I think these books should be read in order for the best possible literary experience. If you haven’t yet, go check out books 1 & 2 first!*

About the Book

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

Uncommon Heroes…or Unsuspecting Victims?

Toronto, 1914. Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts never could have imagined their crime-solving skills would set them up as emblems of female empowerment in a city preparing to enter World War I at the behest of Great Britain. Yet, despite their popularity, the lady detectives can’t avoid the unrest infiltrating every level of society.

A war measure adopted by Mayor Montague puts a target on Jem and her Italian husband, Ray DeLuca. Meanwhile, deep-rooted corruption in the police force causes their friend, Constable Jasper Forth, to wonder if his thirst for upholding the law would be best quenched elsewhere.

In spite of these distractions, Merinda, Ray, and Jasper join with other honorable and courageous city leaders in the Cartier Club, which exists to provide newly arrived residents of Toronto with a seamless integration in the city.

When a club member turns up dead, bearing a slanderous white feather, will Merinda, Jem, and those they hold dear be able to solve the high-stakes mystery before they’re all picked off, one by one?

Review

One important tidbit you won’t glean from reading the synopsis is the presence of a 5th lead character: the city of Toronto. Toronto is much more than a setting — it’s shown as a living, breathing, and ever-changing entity through author Rachel McMillan’s pen and Jem and Merinda’s eyes. It establishes the tone for the series, exposing a “slice of life” in the 1910s that was as tumultuous as it was vibrant. The city, in a way, is essential in shaping each of the (other) four main characters as much as it influences their lives and propels them into another mystery. The conflict of the looming Great War, along with its political struggles, adds complexity in introducing immigration and patriotism as new story layers and challenges.

It’s not all seriousness and mystery, though! This story is witty twists and turns, lady detectives, bowler hats, Sherlockian reasoning, suspect political leaders, a flamboyant peacock, the frenzied start of WWI, and plenty of Italian mumblings from Ray and “Cracker Jacks!” exclamations from Merinda. It’s fun and just light enough to be a cozy mystery while delving a little deeper into themes of friendship and purpose.

Speaking of friendship, my FAVORITE part of this book (and this series, really), is the way friendship is portrayed. With four main characters and their unique roles, the relationship dynamics have ample time to evolve and grow to a remarkable maturity. The complexity of it all is more than just a camaraderie or temporary commitment among the four. No, it’s a lifelong purpose, the intermingling of a complimentary partnership for Jem and Merinda, a romance for Ray and Jem (and just how that affects the aforementioned partnership), a reliance and trust for them all depending on the honorable Jasper, and a bit of unrequited love where Jasper and Merinda are concerned. It’s beautiful and messy and truth-filled.

Bravo to Rachel for ending this series the way it does! Some might say a few details are handled unconventionally for the genre, but I think those little conclusions are what make this story shine on the shelf. This book is everything I wanted it to be — and everything I didn’t realize I needed it to be. It’s like craving Oreo cookies with an ice cold glass of milk and getting a hot chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream instead. It’s still that combination of chocolate and creamy goodness, but a thousand times better (yet distinctly different). I will still want Oreos at some point, but I’m much happier with the surprising brownies. This story might be better suited, though, to a comparison involving lemons or Turkish coffee :)!

Thank you to Harvest House Publishers for the complimentary review copy. This review reflects my honest opinion.

See what I thought of the previous books/novellas in the series~

#0.5 A Singular & Whimsical Problem | #1 The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder

#1.5 Of Dubious and Questionable Memory | #2 A Lesson in Love and Murder 

#2.5 Conductor of Light

About the Author
Rachel McMillanRachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.

Rachel’s Bookish ramblings are housed at A Fair Substitute For Heaven

Twitter: @rachkmc

Instagram: @rachkmc

Facebook: rachkmc1

Pinterest: @rachkmc

 

 

Advertisements

Book Review: “Game, Set and Murder” by Elizabeth Flynn

Hi, ya’ll! Here’s my latest review for a murder mystery/suspense novel. Bear with me, cause it’s long 🙂

Game, Set and Murder

Game, Set and Murder, Elizabeth Flynn’s debut novel, is an intriguing mystery set against the backdrop of the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament at the All England Club in London, England. It follows the story of Detective Inspector (D. I.) Angela Costello as she investigates the death of Petar Belic, a veteran tennis pro and coach to the promising tennis star Stewart Bickerstaff.

Having conquered the tennis realm in his prime, as well as the courts at Wimbledon, Petar Belic is now a much-loved, familiar face in the Club at Wimbledon. His unexpected death, on the very field at Wimbledon where he achieved a victory several years ago, is a mystery. Angela is assigned his case and the investigation proceeds immediately, coinciding with the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Angela has a daunting task ahead of her. Many people close to Petar Belic (pronounced Be-leech) could have had the motive and opportunity to kill him. Possible suspects include the tennis star he was coaching, his friend and business partner, his current girlfriend, his wife, other tennis rivals, and a few other close friends or acquaintances. She and her team must begin piecing together the events that led up to Petar’s death as well as questioning anyone associated with him – before the trail turns cold.

Angela Costello’s character has been recently promoted to the Detective Inspector position. While investigating this case, she must contend with adapting to the position and breaking in her new team of Detective Constables and Sergeants. She applies a unique approach to the investigation, incorporating logic and reasoning with her own personal observations. These methods allow her to make swift progress and uncover hidden details surrounding Petar’s death.

Each time a suspect or witness is interviewed, more information is revealed and puzzling facts are disclosed. This adds a new layer to the increasingly-complicated mystery surrounding Petar’s death. The author effectively offers gradual insight to the various characters by noting their body language, facial expressions, mood, and attitudes. These revelations build suspense and cause the reader to become increasingly suspicious of certain characters through the course of the book.

The novel is told from Angela’s perspective, with the exception of the prologue. Short narratives of her thoughts are spread throughout the story, helping to convey her thought process and reasoning. This perspective affords understanding of her new responsibilities as a Detective Inspector, as well as a glimpse into her personal life and pleasant marriage. There are just a few mentions of anything spiritual or of God, and it is suggested that Angela’s character attends church. I personally prefer more reference to a personal relationship with Jesus. Or even a clear spiritual struggle of one or more characters. But, that’s just my preference!

The British elements of the novel are refreshing and quaint. Small quips and phrases used in the novel add charm to the story and setting. Also, there is a fitting amount of tennis coverage in the novel (but it’s not overpowering). A few games are observed, and the commentary on one tournament is excitedly given. However, if you’re not familiar with the game of tennis,  you won’t feel overwhelmed by the presence of sport.

Overall, Game, Set and Murder is a brisk, captivating read. It explores the many facets of human nature as well as the consequences of sin, forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation.  Elizabeth Flynn’s debut novel is a promising introduction to D. I. Angela Costello’s character.

Do you enjoy murder mystery novels? If so, I would love to hear your recommendations!

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.