Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rachel McMillan: A Lesson in Love and Murder

By Kelly Bridgewater

The legacy of literary icon Sherlock Holmes is alive and well in 1912 Canada, where best friends Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts continue to develop their skills as consulting detectives.

The city of Toronto has been thrown into upheaval by the arrival of radical anarchist Emma Goldman. Amid this political chaos, Benny Citrone of the Royal North-West Mounted Police arrives at Merinda and Jem's flat, requesting assistance in locating his runaway cousin--a man with a deadly talent.

While Merinda eagerly accepts the case, she finds herself constantly butting heads--and hearts--with Benny. Meanwhile, Jem has her hands full with a husband who is determined to keep her out of harm's way.

As Merinda and Jem close in on the danger they've tracked from Toronto to Chicago, they uncover a sinister plot to assassinate presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. Will they be able to save the day and resolve the troubles threatening their future happiness before it's too late?

Independence, love, and lives are at stake in A Lesson in Love and Murder, the gripping second installment of the Herringford and Watts Mysteries series.

From Amazon

My Review:

After reading the first novel The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan and her new novellas, I couldn't wait to see more of her stories featuring Jem and Merinda. As an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes, I enjoy reading her stories that give homage to such a great writer. McMillan wraps me in a story that is unique with characters that I was proud to return to.

The writing was concise and strong. Relying on four different perspectives, I experienced all of their fears, uncertainties, and struggles. There was no moment when McMillan jumped from Ray to Jasper to Merinda to Jem that I lost my place in the story. I knew who was talking without any issue. Once again, McMillan creates vivid, lifelike characters. I enjoy how McMillan create lifelike characters that I could totally see them existing in real life, running through the alleys and streets of Toronto and Chicago. All of the four main characters have flaws and doubts while they struggle financially and physically. As for the secondary characters, I had an easy time feeling sorry for Ray's sister but feeling no remorse for Ray's brother-in-law. I really did not like how he treated his wife or son. McMillan does a good job at using him to strengthen Ray and make him a more admirable character.

The pace and tension of A Lesson in Love and Murder was just right. Each of the scenes flowed from one to the next, allowing me to forget that I was sitting down reading a book in the twenty-first century. The strands of suspense, romance, and normal life woven together seamlessly. The story still had the same feeling of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel. Quick. Easy to read and follow. But enjoyable just the same. I had a really hard time putting the novel down. As for the romantic tension, this book featured the married Jem and Ray trying to figure out married life while Merinda has to deal with her romantic feelings.

Another great strength of McMillan is her ability to bring Toronto to life with her research. While the some of the places may be fictional, McMillan writes them with such clarity that I have a hard time remembering that I am visiting places that don't exist. I, also, enjoy reading more about the underbelly of Toronto and it's reaches into Chicago. It was nice to see Theodore Roosevelt, even if he was fictionalized. Through the setting, McMillan shines in showing her passion for her beloved city. Her passion comes through her words. It makes me want to visit Canada.

A Lesson in Love and Murder was a great page-turner for any fan of cozy mysteries or Sherlock Holmes. There is enough romantic tension and mystery to keep even the most avid fan happy. I highly recommend this book to everyone even audiences in the ABA market. There is one mention of God, but it really is not preachy at all.

Rachel McMillan continues her Herringford and Watts Mysteries with another nudge at clean and fun mysteries. Returning to Jem and Merinda, McMillan grip me with realistic characters, an original mystery, and a little bit of romance.

I received a complimentary copy of A Lesson in Love and Murder from Harvest House Publishers and the above opinions are all my own. 

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

If you had read Sherlock Holmes, do you think Rachel McMillan handles her stories in the same fashion? If not, what could be improved? If so, what are some similiarities that you notice?

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