Monday, April 11, 2016

"The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder" by Rachel McMillan - humor, history, and a murder mystery

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder  -     By: Rachel McMillan
When the murders of Irish women get shoved under the rug by Toronto's chief of police, Merinda Herringford and Jemima Watts, two young bachelor women launching their own detective agency, take up the case. While donning disguises and dodging the Morality Squad, the two women pair up with a dashing reporter and demoted police constable. But will they catch the killer before the killer catches up with them?

Humor, history, and a murder mystery--what could be more fun? Merinda and Jem are a delightful pair to watch as they set up their detective business (if a business that makes next to no money can be called that). There is a strong nod to Holmes and Watson throughout the book, but as much as the girls may strive to emulate them, those esteemed gentlemen these girls are NOT. You don't see Watson being wooed by dashing reporters or Holmes being pursued by the Morality Squad for engaging in practices of a decidedly unfeminine nature.

I loved the footnotes à la Terry Pratchett - little asides that aren't strictly necessary to the tale, but add another touch of humor and sometimes useful explanation.

I will admit to some confusion at times, since I had already read the related novella "A Singular and Whimsical Problem," and it took a while before I figured out that the novella takes place in the midst of the events in this book: Bachelor Girl opens in September 1910, "Whimsical" takes place in December 1910, and then Bachelor Girl finishes later in the spring. So "Whimsical" is a case the girls take on outside of the main case written about in Bachelor Girl. Hopefully that will make things a little less muddy for anyone else reading them!

My biggest complaint, once I ironed out the timelines, is that it is so short: only 210 pages of actual story! Granted, it was a highly entertaining story--nothing too deep or heavy--but I certainly would have enjoyed delving longer and deeper into Merinda and Jem. Maybe the way the point of view jumped around without ever alighting for long had something to do with that feeling of brevity and shallowness too. Even so, I'm definitely looking forward to the next book; hopefully it will give more insight into Merinda, who still has an air of mystery about her.

Herringford & Watts Mysteries
1. The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder
1.25-ish: "A Singular and Whimsical Problem" (novella taking place in Dec 1910, during the events of Bachelor Girl, but a separate case only briefly mentioned)
1.5:  "Of Dubious and Questionable Memory" (novella)
2. A Lesson in Love and Murder
2.5: "Conductor of Light" (short story)
3. The White Feather Murders

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