How many words are too many words for a book review!? Because I have a LOT to say about Rachel McMillan’s latest historical novel, Murder in the City of Liberty. I always have a lot to say about Rachel’s stories 😉 I highly recommend reading the previous book in this series (Murder at the Flamingo) for the best reading experience!
Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case–and this one brings the war in Europe dangerously close to home.
Determined to make a life for herself, Regina “Reggie” Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.
Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes that seem to link Boston to Hamish’s hometown of Toronto.
When an act of violence hits too close to home, Hamish is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.
Murder in the City of Liberty whisks you away on a mystery and adventure that’s really about the characters and friendships. Loyalty, romance, relationships and their ties to the past, grace, and social justice are all themes displayed in an immersive setting of Boston with its cobblestones and steeples. I feel like I could map Boston from the descriptions Hamish and Nate give!
Rachel McMillan writes stories for the romantic at heart. I’m not referring to “love stories”, though a hefty dose of starry eyes, dancing, and the delights of attraction are all found in the pages of this story. I’m referring to the slight idealist slant of her stories with characters to root for and eventual happy endings. A balance of realism is always present, too, portrayed through the realities of the era and their parallels to today’s social and cultural challenges. HOPE is always present.
You probably know I’m here for the romance. Especially this slow-building, delicious connection and camaraderie between Hamish and Reggie. I thought I wanted Reggie to have an “Aha!” moment, but I was wrong. What Rachel gives readers is a gradual recognition where Reggie’s concerned, the sparks finally making sense with just how intertwined Hamish is with her daily life and happiness. And with her “journal of independence”. It is perfect!
Within the romantic aspect of the story, the truth of how Reggie is changing and realizing her path in life is magnificent. I really like how she reconciles her past with her identity, embracing how her choices were not in vain but a part of herself, part of what makes her tick and what determines the life she is meant to choose.
Let’s talk about two of the secondary characters: Nate and Luca. They couldn’t be more different, but both have a deep and meaningful connection with Hamish. Both are catalysts for Hamish’s growth. I have liked Nate from the very beginning, but this story makes him one of my very favorite secondary characters who gets to steal the scene more than once! I appreciated the way he reminds Hamish that patience is required for change. And I liked how a particular thing surprised Nate near the end 🙂
And Luca. He brings the theme of loyalty to the forefront. It’s funny how he shapes, defines, even dictates the progression of the story yet he’s hardly “present” on the page. Only a strongly written character can have that kind of presence through a story, to be both likable and disruptive at the same time.
The brave thing Rachel McMillan is doing with these characters is shining a light on mental illness and bringing awareness through the HERO of the story. In this second book, we often see Hamish through the lens of his closest circle, showing both their familiarity with him and the grace they extend as they embrace each other’s imperfections. The maturing in this is twofold: growing Hamish as a person and McMillan’s story style and presentation developing alongside.
I could go on and on about this story, how it incorporates current events of its era, how it handles prejudice and war, how it shows the fallacy and strength of human nature. Wit, baseball, cannolis, smart banter, nods to classic films, end-of-the-world-kisses, and blue eyes are just the icing on top of this one-of-a-kind adventure that I’m sure to love even more upon rereading!
Review of book 1: Murder at the Flamingo
Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.