Friday, December 18, 2015

"A Singular and Whimsical Problem" by Rachel McMillan - a fun introduction to a new mystery series!

A Singular and Whimsical Problem - eBook  -     By: Rachel McMillan
While satisfying, private investigation--at least, for two female detectives in 1910 Toronto--is not necessarily lucrative. To pay the bills, sometimes one has to take whatever case is offered, even if it is so ignoble as tracking down a one-eared cat. But for Merinda Herringford and Jemima Watts, no case remains so simple for long . . . One missing cat turns into several missing young women, and it's all tied to the St. Jerome's Reformatory for Vagrant and Incorrigible Females.

For such a short piece of fiction, the author manages to cram in some fascinating historical bits about 1910 Toronto, like the Morality Squad, based off the actual Morality Police, which had the power to arrest people for such immoral practices as drunkenness and women walking alone after dark. I had to pause in the middle of reading just to look it up - it sounded too ridiculous to be true, which in fiction is a good indication that it really is true. And sure enough, it is based on fact, even if the author put her own spin on it. It certainly has potential to be recurring problem for our two morally questionable lady detectives (who dare to don the disguises of men on occasion!)

I enjoyed hearing the story from the perspective of the Watson-ish half of the duo - proper, empathetic Jem, as opposed to Merinda's more Holmesian personality. She's the sort who is easy to relate to and adds a fun commentary on Merinda's calculating actions. The mystery had some nice little twists in it that I had not anticipated, which bodes well for the upcoming stories in the series.

Now after this taste of the characters and their associates, I can't wait to read the full-length novels!

Herringford & Watts Mysteries
0.5: "A Singular and Whimsical Problem" (novella)
1. A Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder
1.5: "A Dubious and Questionable Memory" (novella)
2. A Lesson in Love and Murder
2.5: "A Conductor of Light" (short story)
3. The White Feather Murders 

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