Friday, January 1, 2016
Review: A Singular & Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan
A Singular & Whimsical Problem (Herringford & Watts #0.5)
By: Rachel McMillan
Publisher: Harvest House
In an era when most women aspired to the comforts of hearth, home, and marriage, Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts prefer to spend their time solving mysteries rather than perfecting their cooking skills or learning to stitch a straight hem. Taking their inspiration from the most famous fictional detective of the day, Sherlock Holmes, Merinda and Jem are well on their way to becoming Toronto's most notorious bachelor girls, their exploits chronicled in the Hogtown Herald. But the fame of their fictional idol does not come easily, as their desire to help the unfortunate -- who often cannot pay -- war with the necessity of bills and food. But when the wife of a wealthy shipping magnate begs their help in finding her lost cat Pepper, the girls have little reason to expect the mystery this wayward feline will lead them into, uncovering a far-reaching web of intrigue and danger that could make their reputation...if they can survive to bring the truth to light.
This slim novella is the introduction to McMillan's Herringford and Watts mysteries, if if this is any indication, Merinda and Jem's Holmesian adventures will be a welcome and sparkling addition to the ranks of cozy historicals. This is a cozy mystery to be sure, but one with a bit of bite, as sandwiched between the fluff of their search for a missing cat is a glimpse into a darker world kidnapping and exploitation, where those women without the benefit of family and resources find themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous predators.
For anyone who, like myself, loves stories of women who break societal boundaries, this all-too-brief introduction to Jem and Merinda's world is a promising start to McMillan's new series. While Merinda's favorite exclamation of "cracker jacks!" wears thin, the exuberance charm of this new world and the characters populating it cannot be denied. Following this rollicking, fast-paced debut, I am eagerly looking forward to following Jem and Merinda's further adventures!
About the book:
Christmas, 1910. Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts would be enjoying the season a lot more if they weren’t forced to do their own laundry and cooking. Just as they are adapting to their trusty housekeeper’s ill-timed vacation, they are confronted by the strangest mystery they’ve encountered since they started their private investigation firm.
In this bonus e-only novella, what begins as the search for a missing cat leads to a rabble-rousing suffragette and the disappearance of several young women from St. Jerome’s Reformatory for Incorrigible Females. From the women’s courts of City Hall to Toronto’s seedy docks and into the cold heart of the underground shipping industry, this will be the most exciting Christmas the girls have had yet…if they can stay alive long enough to enjoy it.