Review: The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey

 

Title: The Bombay Prince {Perveen Mistry #3}

Author: Sujata Massey

Published: 1st June 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Bombay Prince is the third book by Sujata Massey to feature Perveen Massey, India’s first female solicitor, working alongside her father, a respected lawyer. It’s not strictly necessary to have read the previous novels, A Murder on Malabar Hill and The Satapur Moonstone, to enjoy this though I believe the experience is better for it.

Taking place in November of 1921, Massey sets the story of The Bombay Prince against the unrest in India between British loyalists and those agitating for India’s independence as Edward VIII, Prince of Wales arrives to tour the sub-continent.

Perveen meets with a young university student worried that if she refuses the school principal’s directive to attend the parade welcoming Prince Edward that she could be expelled. Freny Cuttingmaster is anxious that she not disappoint her parents by jeopardising her education but staunchly opposes British Rule and wants Perveen’s assurance that her future will not be compromised by taking a stand. Perveen isn’t able to provide Freny with a definitive answer, suggesting she return with her college handbook, but she doesn’t see the young woman again until, on the day of the parade, Freny’s body is found in the courtyard of the school.

The Bombay Prince offers a well crafted mystery that plays out against the backdrop of protests which divides the city of Bombay along political and religious lines. Perveen is deeply distressed by the young woman’s death, especially when it becomes clear that Freny didn’t simply fall from the gallery as the scene was staged to suggest. Not able to trust that the death will be properly investigated for a number of reasons, including the college’s wish to avoid scandal, general dismissive attitudes towards women, and the escalating violence related to Prince Edward’s visit, Purveen insinuates herself into the case to ensure the killer is brought to justice. The challenge Purveen faces in navigating these issues is fascinating, probably more so than the mystery itself at times, especially when she is noticed by the men looking for collaborators in a plot to assassinate Prince Edward.

Purveen is a complex character, presenting an uneasy mix of progressive and conservative traits. Though she has defied societal expectations by becoming a solicitor, and in separating from her abusive husband, she is very conscious of the need to behave in ways that protect both her and her family’s reputation, and tends to be braver when acting on behalf of her clients than she is in than her defence of herself. This is particularly evident in her interactions with men, which makes her continued connection with Colin Sandringham, who was her government liaison in The Satapur Moonstone, an intriguing element of the story.

Rich in historical detail and cultural interest, offering a discerning mystery and a hint of romance, The Bombay Prince is an engaging novel, and I hope the series will continue.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart


Title: Digging Up Dirt {Poppy McGowan Mysteries #1}

Author: Pamela Hart

Published: 2nd June 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Harlequin/Netgalley

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

There’s a real dearth of Australian cosy mysteries so I’m delighted by the publication of Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart, introducing television researcher, and amateur sleuth, Poppy McGowan.

Poppy McGowan is nearing the end of renovations of her terrace house in inner Sydney when her builder discovers bones buried in the dirt under her living room floor. To determine if the are animal or human, the Museum of NSW sends Dr. Julieanne Weaver, with whom Poppy has an antagonistic relationship, who arrives with her boyfriend- the handsome visiting archaeologist Bartholomew ‘Tol’ Lang. Weaver quickly agrees the bones aren’t human, but she won’t release the site, declaring the bones may belong to a rare breed of sheep that arrived with the First Fleet. Poppy is frustrated but decides to make the best of the situation, as a researcher for an educational television show on the ABC, at least footage of the dig can be used for a upcoming program. Two days later, Poppy finds herself in front of the camera after the body of Julieanne is discovered in the hole in her house. The police consider Poppy to be a prime suspect so using her research skills and media contacts, Poppy sets out to prove her innocence.

Poppy digs up no shortage of suspects, Julieanne wasn’t well liked among her colleagues at the Museum, and then there is her surprising involvement with the right-wing Australian Family Party and the Pentecostal Radiant Joy Church. Hart provides plenty of red herrings for Poppy to be sidetracked by, creating an interesting ‘whodunnit’ plot.

I wasn’t keen on the involvement of religion and politics in the story, simply because both subjects tend to distress me. That said, it allows Hart to raise some topical issues including feminism, domestic violence, the status of LBTQIA+, Aboriginal heritage, and obliquely comments on Australia’s current political climate. Poppy uses the media credentials bestowed upon her by the ABC news desk desperate for an exclusive, to involve herself in the two conservative groups, suspecting one of their leaders may be responsible for her death.

Smart, resourceful and quick-witted Poppy is a likeable, well rounded character. As she is living with her staunchly Catholic parents while her home is being renovated we are briefly introduced to her family giving us a sense of her background. I found her work as a researcher to be interesting and think it lends itself well to the practicality of amateur sleuthing.

There’s a touch of romance in the novel, though Poppy is involved with an accountant named Stuart, and Tol is dating Julieanne, the attraction between the pair is obvious from their first meeting. As it turns out Stuart is a prat, and well Julieanne dies, so the situation is not quite as awkward as it could be. I liked the will they/won’t they nature of the relationship, however given that Tol is expected to leave for a long term position in Jordan in a few weeks, there is no guarantee he will become a series regular.

Offering well crafted intrigue, appealing characters and a uniquely Australian setting, I found Digging Up Dirt to be entertaining and engaging cosy mystery. I hope there will be more.

+++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: Mirror Man by Fiona McIntosh

 

Title: Mirror Man {DCI Jack Hawkesworth #3}

Author: Fiona McIntosh

Published: 1st June 2021, Michael Joseph

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

+++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

It’s been more than a decade since I read the first two books to feature DCI Jack Hawkesworth, Bye Bye Baby and Beautiful Death, so I picked up Mirror Man with only a vague memory of the storyline, however it’s not necessary to have read either to enjoy this third instalment of the series.

Mirror Man begins when DCI Jack Hawkesworth is reassigned from his role as a Counter Terrorism International Liaison by Martin Sharpe, the Acting Chief Superintendent of the Homicide and Serious Crime Branch at Scotland Yard, to investigate a possible link between three bizarre murders. Given a promotion to Detective Superintendent and a small team to command which allows him to reunite with DI Kate Carter, DI Malek Khan and analyst DS Sara Jones, Jack is tasked to figure out if there is a serial killer loose in London targeting recently paroled criminals.

The reader knows who is responsible for the deadly string of crimes from the outset of the novel but Jack and his team have to find evidence to first prove they are linked before they even begin to search for a suspect. As a police procedural, Mirror Man works well. The murders offer little in the way of forensic evidence, the killer has been careful to leave no trace of themselves behind, so the taskforce must painstakingly investigate every possible piece of information. The killer’s goal is more obvious, a vigilante seeking his own form of justice, though his exact motivation is not known to the team.

It’s rare to be ambivalent about the capture of a serial killer, but when his victims include an unrepentant, violent rapist; an abuser who beat his wife to death; and the drunk driver who annihilated the man’s wife, daughter and granddaughters you can’t help but feel a little conflicted. I liked that McIntosh explores this morally grey area, as well as issues surrounding sentencing, rehabilitation, early parole and how they impact on the victims of crime.

Once again Jack finds himself blurting the line between his professional and personal life when journalist Lauren Starling gets wind of Operation: Mirror Man. Much is made in this series of Jack’s good looks which leaves women swooning in his wake, including Kate whose crush on her boss is still as florid as ever.  At Kate’s suggestion, Jack also seeks advice from Anne McEvoy, his former lover, and serial killer, who is serving several life sentences after Jack exposed her in Bye Bye Baby. A psychologist and criminologist, she provides a profile that offers some insight into the case.

Though the reader is led to believe they have all the answers the police are searching for, there are several well placed surprises in Mirror Man. The pace and tension accelerates as Jack grows closer to identifying his quarry, and the lives of several characters are at risk.

With its provocative theme and well crafted plot, Mirror Man is a gripping police procedural, sure to entertain crime fiction readers.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: Magpie’s Bend by Maya Linnell

 

Title: Magpie’s Bend

Author: Maya Linnell

Published: 1st June 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

+++++++

My Thoughts:

Magpie’s Bend is Maya Linnell’s third engaging contemporary romance novel featuring the McIntyre sisters in rural Victoria.

When Bridgefield’s only general store owner is injured and decides to sell up, local nurse, and single mother, Lara McIntyre reluctantly finds herself leading a campaign to ensure it’s services aren’t lost to the community. She doesn’t want the distraction of handsome newcomer, journalist Toby Paxton, even if he’s the first man since the public collapse of her disastrous marriage to pique her interest, she just needs his help to save the store.

The second eldest of the McIntyre sisters, Lara is a lovely character. A dedicated community nurse, she enjoys running, baking and managing her small holding. She is the mother of thirteen year old Evie, who has recently enrolled in boarding school and  Lara is struggling somewhat with her absence. The victim of domestic abuse by her ex-husband whom she only managed to escape when he was jailed for financial crimes, Lara is still wary of men and reluctant to trust her heart.

Toby is also a single father whose teen daughter, Holly, lives with her mother in Ballarat, visiting every other weekend. His move to Bridgefield is calculated to advance his career at a city paper, though he is finding he enjoys the lifestyle the town affords him as a keen runner, and the opportunity to indulge in his passion for photography.

I enjoyed the romance between Lara and Toby which Linnell develops slowly but organically, respecting Lara’s past trauma. Lara’s family can’t help but meddle a little wanting the best for their sister. Toby is very patient as Lara stubbornly refuses to admit her interest in him, but just as it seems he has found his way past her defences, Lara learns something that seems to confirm her worst fears.

There are lots of delightful elements to this story. I love the focus on community in Magpie’s Bend as the townspeople rally to save their general store. The shop is much more than a convenience for Bridgefield locals, and they fight hard to save it. There are some charming animal ‘characters’, including a dog named Basil and a baby magpie named Vegemite, and a range of delicious homemade pies.

Magpie’s Bend is a heartfelt, winsome and satisfying rural romance, a delightful read I enjoyed over a long weekend.

+++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD $29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: Love, In Theory by Elodie Cheesman

 

Title: Love, In Theory

Author: Elodie Cheesman

Published: 25th May 2021, Macmillan Australia

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Pan Macmillan Australia

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Love, In Theory by debut author Elodie Cheesman is a sweet, if rather predictable, romcom that explores the age old debate of whether to place more trust in your heart or your head when it comes to love.

Cheesman introduces Romy, a single, twenty four year old junior lawyer who works and lives in Sydney. When Romy learns that, according to the theory of the ‘optimal stopping point’, she has only a few months to find her best chance at ‘happy ever after’ she decides it’s time to make a concerted effort to find ‘the one’. Unwilling to trust her own instincts, which have led her into previous disastrous relationships, Romy decides to eschew passion and rely on science to find a match.

Drawing on advice from family, friends, a book or three, and a workshop on Intelligent Dating, Romy starts her search for her perfect partner on Tinder. There are the expected bad dates – a bore, and a sleaze; before she meets Hans, who embodies her three most desirable traits – risk averse, emotionally stable, and agreeable,- even if he doesn’t make her heart flutter in quite the way that James, a graphic designer who doesn’t seem to be any of those things, does.

Life would probably be simpler if the question of love could be reduced to a neat algorithm, but a solution seems determined to remain elusive. Though the outcome is inevitable, I enjoyed Romy’s journey well enough. I did find her a little frustrating at times, particularly given she’s probably a bit young these days to be so worried about being alone for the rest of her life.

I did like the subplot related to Romy’s ambivalence towards her job working in employment law, including issues around #metoo, bad bosses, and work/life balance which provides more depth to the story.

Love, In Theory is a wholesome contemporary romance that will likely appeal to a twenty-something readership looking to be reassured ‘the one’ is still out there.

+++++++

Available from PanMacmillan Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Blog Tour Review: Nancy Business by R.W.R. McDonald

 

Title: Nancy Business {The Nancy’s #2}

Author: R.W.R. McDonald

Published: 3rd June 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

The Nancy’s are back in R.W.R. McDonald’s fabulous sequel to his fabulous 2019 debut, Nancy Business.

It’s been four months since The Nancy’s solved the case of the slain schoolteacher and Tippy Chan’s Uncle Pike and his boyfriend Devon have returned to the small New Zealand town of Riverstone for the first anniversary of Tippy’s father death. Tippy, now twelve, is delighted they have returned though disappointed she is yet to find a new mystery for them to solve. That’s soon remedied however when a car bomb explodes outside Riverstone’s town hall in the early hours of the morning, killing three people, including the alleged bomber, and wounding two. Tippy is at a loss to understand the horror and wants to know who would do such a thing, and why? Though the police seem to have all the answers, when Tippy learns of a letter threatening to blow up the town bridge in five days she convinces Uncle Pike and Devon that the Nancy’s need to investigate.

Whereas I wasn’t quite sold on the mystery in The Nancy’s, I don’t have the same issue here. Though still a rather spectacular crime to occur in a small country town, this time the entire thing feels less Scooby-Doo-like and more grounded in possibility. Establishing The Nancy’s HQ at the ‘murder’ house Pike and Devon have bought on the outskirts of Riverstone, the threesome attempt to figure out if the threat of a second bombing is real, after all, the police have been wrong before. Their usual sources are a little less cooperative this time but that doesn’t stop The Nancy’s nosing around, leading to a jealous husband, a bitey dog, bad smells, and a car chase down Main Street. Solving this case also leads to an unexpected twist with surprising implications for Tippy and her family (and the joy of a third book to look forward to).

McDonald conjures the same magic he created in The Nancy’s with Tippy’s charming narrative, and the witty, often outrageous, dialogue from Pike and Devon, though it has a sharper edge in Nancy Business. The pair don’t seem to be getting along very well, making Tippy anxious about the possibility of further loss. There’s more pathos on show all round in this novel as McDonald continues to explore the theme of grief. Naturally the anniversary of Joe Chan’s death evokes sadness and regret in those who loved him, emotions which are amplified when Tippy learns the truth about her father’s accident. McDonald’s portrayal of Tippy’s devastation in the wake of that revelation is heartrendingly authentic.

Though it’s not strictly necessary to have read The Nancy’s to enjoy this, I would strongly recommend you do. Brilliantly balancing poignancy with hilarity, family drama with mystery, Nancy Business is a wonderfully engaging and entertaining read.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon 


CLICK HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO

WIN

1 of 2 print editions of 

Nancy Business courtesy Allen & Unwin and Book’d Out 

++++++

 


Review: Written in Bone by Sue Black

 

Title: Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind

Author: Sue Black

Published: 1st June 2021, Arcade

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Arcade/Edelweiss

+++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Internationally renowned forensic anthropologist Dame Sue Black offers a rather poetic definition of her profession in the introduction to Written in Bone.

 

“The forensic anthropologist’s job is to try to read the bones of our skeleton as if they were a record, moving a professional stylus across them in search of the short, recognizable segments of body-based memory that form part of the song of a life, coaxing out fragments of the tune laid down there long ago.”

 

Less fancifully, a forensic anthropologist’s job is the examination of human skeletal remains for law enforcement agencies to help with the recovery of human remains, determine the identity of unidentified human remains, interpret trauma, and estimate time since death. It’s a professional discipline that requires scientific rigour and the ability to interpret the science for others.

Black proves she has mastered the skills of her trade in Written in Bone, sharing her detailed knowledge and understanding of her field, and presenting the science in a clear and accessible manner for someone with a basic understanding of anatomy. Crucially though, Black never lets us forget that the bones were once the essential framework of a human being.

Written in Bone is organised in sections that move down the skeleton from the head through to the foot. In each chapter Black explains the development and function of specific bones, how those bones may, or may not, be affected by natural or unnatural means, the process a forensic anthropologist uses to examine and then provide a scientific assessment of the bones, and case examples that demonstrate the role of forensic anthropology in the investigation of legal and criminal cases.

It is astonishing how much information even a fragment of bone may be capable of providing in the hands of a skilled forensic anthropologist. Not only sex, age, ethnicity and height, but also diet, history of disease, cause of death, and even a history of emotional trauma. Black describes the need, “…to squeeze every single piece of information out of whatever parts we do have in our pursuit of the answers to questions about identity, life and death.” and the fascinating, sometimes disturbing, case examples that show just how important those details can be in an investigation.

I felt like I learnt quite a bit from Black. I hadn’t known that the bones in the hand can be a reliable indicator of age in living people, or that disease and emotional trauma can leave a mark called a Harris line on long bones while they are growing. I’m left curious as to what my bones may tell a forensic anthropologist, and if they hold enough of a record to help identify me if they are all that remains.

Written in Bone will interest a range of curious readers from students of related fields to true crime buffs and fans of TV’s ‘Bones’. Educational, intriguing, and surprising, I found this to be an absorbing read.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster

Or from your preferred retailer via Indiebound I Book Depository I Booko 

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #2021ReadNonFic

===================

In May…

[PUBLISHED IN 2021]

Kathryn’s interest in reading Sex, Lies and Question Time by Kate Ellis was “piqued in part by the recent, disgraceful scandals that have rocked [Australian] Parliament…”. She opines it is, “…written in an intelligent, conversational style, this one isn’t always the easiest of reads due to the heavy subject matter. Still, it’s an important subject and one well worth educating yourself about….”.

+++++++

[SELF-HELP]

Rennie from What’s Nonfiction? admits she generally avoids the self-help genre but she highlights three titles in this post she has found helpful. The Obesity Code by Jason Fung MD, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

++++++++

[PUBLISHED IN 2021]

 

The Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe is an expose of the Sackler family, whose fortune was made by the making and marketing of OxyContin. Laura of Reading Books Again wasn’t entirely convinced by the author’s assertion that the Sackler family were wholly responsible for the opioid crisis, but she recommends it, giving it five stars.

+++++++

[WARTIME EXPERIENCES]

Mapheads Book Blog found Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, “…a detailed and reveling look at Hitler and his fellow Nazi’s rise to power as seen through the eyes of those Americans who witnessed it firsthand.”

++++++

[HOBBIES]

Journey & Destination read 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff. She writes, “Both books are delightful reads for book lovers, letter writers and those who appreciate old classics.”

===================

What will you be reading in June ?


In case you missed it…

Join the challenge!

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

Review: Still by Matt Nable

 

Title: Still

Author: Matt Nable

Published: May 2021, Hachette Australia 

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy Hachette/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“They killed him because he saw.”

 

Still is an atmospheric noir crime fiction novel from Australian Matt Nable, a former professional rugby league footballer turned film and television broadcaster/actor, and novelist.

Set in Darwin in 1963, Nable exposes a barely civilised, nascent city plagued by racism, violence and corruption. It’s mid summer, the tropical weather alternates between searing and brooding, as oppressive and threatening as the work it takes to survive in the Territory.

When Senior Constable Ned Potter finds the body of a man beaten and shot twice in the marshland of Darwin’s outskirts, he resents being told to stand down by his venal boss, Senior Sergeant Riley, who promptly declares the the death a suicide. Ned is quietly furious but resigned to doing nothing until he stumbles upon the bodies of another two men buried in a shallow grave. They too have been beaten and shot, and yet again Riley, this time backed by the Mayor, presents Ned with a fair accompli. But this time Ned can’t let it go.

Ned is a well-realised, complex character. Nable portrays a man wrestling with conscience, caught between what he knows is right and the risk of consequences, not only to his career, which he expects, but to his wife and newborn daughter. Burning silently at the injustice, he punishes himself for his perceived lack of control and courage, drinks excessively, not sure whether he is trying to forget his principles, or his fear.

Meanwhile, on her way home from visiting her father in his nursing home, Charlotte Clark finds a bleeding, broken man who begs her to hide him. Charlotte sets him up at her father’s empty property, instinctively concealing the man from her firefighter husband, who shares a cosy relationship with Senior Sergeant Riley.

For Charlotte, caring for the badly injured Michael is not only the right thing to do, despite society’s prevailing derogatory view, supported by her husband, of Australian aboriginals, but also provides her with a sense of control in a life where effectively she has none. Charlotte is a women representative of the era, a restless housewife with no practical means of escape from an unhappy marriage. The consequences of being discovered are dire not only for her, given the propensity for violence of her husband, but also for Michael, whose life is at risk.

The stakes are high for just about every character in Still, and with lives, and livelihoods, under threat the tension rarely wavers. While I do think the pacing was perhaps a little slow, my only real complaint with the novel relates to the timeline. There is a lack of immediacy in the resolution, which was necessary for one specific element of the plot, but I feel it didn’t work particularly well overall, and resulted in the conclusion losing some of its impact.

Nevertheless, Still has a lot to recommend it. I found it to be a compelling novel – superbly atmospheric, with nuanced characters and a strong mystery.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia 

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: The Nancy’s by R.W.R. McDonald

 

Title: The Nancy’s {The Nancy’s #1}

Author: R.W.R McDonald

Published:3rd June 2019, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read May 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

I’ll be honest, as a preteen I much preferred Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew but I would leap at the chance to join The Nancy’s who feature in this delightful debut from New Zealand-born Australian author R.W.R McDonald.

Eleven year old Tippy Chan lives in a tiny town in South Otago. Her mother, Helen, a nurse at a local hospital, has won a two week cruise and so Tippy’s Uncle Pike, and his boyfriend Devon, have flown in from Sydney to look after her. It’s been a difficult year for Tippy after the death of her beloved father, and Tippy is a little anxious about her mother’s absence, increasingly so when first one of her best friend’s is badly injured in a fall from the town’s single lane bridge, and then her teacher’s naked headless body is discovered nearby. Tippy, a fan of the Nancy Drew mystery series, has the idea to investigate both incidents, a pursuit Pike and Devon indulge with a murder board written on a living room window in permanent texta, a mantra (Everyone’s a suspect), and matching t-shirts designed by Devon (after several attempts).

Calling themselves The Nancy’s, the three rely on their charm, insider’s knowledge (Pike grew up in Riverstone) of the town and its residents, and a little luck to try and solve the mystery but investigating a murder isn’t quite as easy as Nancy Drew makes it seem. The closer they get to finding the truth, the less Tippy is sure she really wants to know. I’m not sure how I feel about the mystery element of the novel, I thought the manner of death and the behaviour of the killer was unnecessarily outlandish, and it wasn’t as strong overall as I expected it to be, though it was satisfyingly resolved.

Whatever weakness there may be in the plot, I adored the main cast of The Nancy’s. Tippy is a delightful narrator – bright and quick, but still appropriately childish. She admires Nancy Drew for a number of reasons, so it’s no surprise she wants to emulate her. Still grieving the sudden loss of her father, the investigation is a way for her to gain some control over her life, and the things that scare her.

Uncle Pike, who looks like Santa Claus, only with tattoos, and Devon, described as Ken wearing Barbie, are outrageous characters with larger than life personalities. Irreverent, with a penchant for drink, swearing and innuendo, they are not really appropriate guardians for a child, but are warm, supportive, and fun which is exactly what Tippy needs. I found them absolutely hilarious, though I recognise their potential to offend.

There is variety in the supporting characters from elderly neighbours Mr and Mrs Brown and their granddaughter Melanie, an unctuous real estate agent, and a toothy tv presenter (who is also Pike’s ex-boyfriend), to a hard nosed journalist, a closeted policeman, and Tippy’s other best friend, Sam, and his family. The tiny community of Riverstone allows McDonald to explore the ironies of small town life, particularly as Pike and Devon make over goth girl Melanie to enter the annual beauty contest.

A murder mystery laced with mirth, The Nancy’s is a witty, warm, and wildly entertaining novel. I can’t wait to read about The Nancy’s next adventure in McDonald’s Nancy Business.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

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