Meet best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem, who launch their own Sherlock Holmes-esque consulting detective business in 1910 Toronto in Rachel McMillan’s The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever–if they can stay alive long enough to do so.
Jem and Merinda make me smile.
Some reviews I’ve read said that Merinda is difficult to love, but I found her absolutely delightful. In fact, I enjoyed her even more than I did Jem (whom I also adored). Merinda is, admittedly, a little rough around the social-propriety edges but she is also after all inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Her eccentricities and obvious enthusiasm for crime solving endeared her to me right away – as soon as page 13 in fact when she whips out her magnifying glass and commands Jem to “Search for clues!” And her friendship with Jem is a highlight of the book – and will be for the duration of the series, I imagine.
Rachel McMillan not only has crafted a truly fabulous story of friendship and crime-fighting, but she has also painted a captivating picture of Toronto in the early 1900s. One does not need Merinda’s magnifying glass to decipher Rachel’s love for her city or for its rich history. Political corruption as well as immigration and women’s rights share the stage with architectural and societal progress. As an English as a Second/Other Language teacher in my other life, I was particularly touched by the insights into the struggle of immigrants during this time period. One excerpt (from Ray’s journal, the one that Jem should not have been reading 😉 ) especially resonated with me:
Lately, I have taken to walking by St. James on the way home. The first time I slipped in I felt immediately that I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been…. I just come and clutch my hat in my hands and sit. One afternoon, the minister, Ethan Talbot, came and spoke to me. He told me that the door will never be locked for me. Then he offered to teach me to read and write English. And I promised, in that moment, I would do something with that gift. Someday.
All the bubble hearts for Ray. Seriously. Jasper’s nice too but *dreamy sigh* Ray. I am really really interested in where Rachel takes the relationship between Jem and Ray in future books. I saw a hint there at the end of some struggles I think are ahead and – while it makes my heart hurt just a little – I cannot wait to see how Rachel weaves this into the story.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention how much I ADORE the design of The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder – from the cover to the interior page art to the clever footnotes. The FOOTNOTES! Delightful. As were the snippets from made-up works of literature that Rachel included at the beginning of each chapter. Rachel’s humor speaks my language, and I grinned so much whilst reading this book that I wondered momentarily if my face would be permanently stuck in a smile. There are worse facial expressions to be stuck with, I suppose, and well worth the risk 🙂
Bottom Line: Mystery, romance, friendship, humor, and history – all wrapped up in a meticulous attention to detail both on the page and surrounding it. Merinda and Jem are quite possibly my favorite crime fighting gal pals since Nancy Drew and her chums, and Jasper and Ray make much better love interests than Ned Nickerson ever did. Even if Ray does write bad poetry (something I learned from one of those footnotes I mentioned), he still merits several dreamy sighs throughout. And he speaks Italian… so… there’s that.
Jem wasn’t sure she needed to learn Italian. If he kept saying those things in that voice, she doubted she’d need a translation.
This may be the first time I’ve done this in a “bottom line” but… THUD.
Ok – back to the bottom line. You will laugh and grin and cheer and yes you will probably fan yourself a time or thrice. But you will absolutely be swept away to 1910 Toronto where you of course keep your eyes peeled for Merinda and Jem… or Jasper and Ray. Because wherever they – and Rachel McMillan – are, delightful adventure is sure to follow!
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 4 stars / LOVED it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / Will forget to breathe on occasion
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1RRdypX
See what others are saying: http://litfusegroup.com/author/rmcmillan
Rachel 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 is celebrating the release of The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder with a Murder Mystery Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on April 28! (That’s tonight!)
One grand prize winner will receive:
- One copy of The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder
- A magnifying glass necklace
- A bowler hat
- A pocket watch
- A $30 Amazon gift card
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 4/28. The winner will be announced at The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Rachel and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!