In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.
Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.
While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever–if they can stay alive long enough to do so.
One of my favorite aspects of reading is its ability to transport me into new worlds, new places, and new times. Through reading, I am able to experience much more than is ever likely I could do of my own accord. In the case of The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, this is a good thing–because while I have no desire to ever chase murderers through a big city, I quite enjoyed myself as Jem and Merinda did the same in Rachel McMillan’s debut novel. With a keen insight into Toronto’s history and a penchant for wit and humorous dialog, McMillan’s The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder is a refreshing debut novel for the CBA.
Merinda Herringford and Jemima Watts live in early twentieth-century Toronto, battling the social norms and societal expectations placed upon women of the upper class. These best friends fill The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder with laughter and love as their opposite personalities make them the perfect dynamic duo to take on the Morality Squad and power-hungry politicians. Passionate and exuberant, Merinda easily takes charge of the Herringford and Watts detective business. While I could never truly put myself in her shoes, I laughed at her antics and admired her for her courage and tenacity to solve mysteries. Jemima, on the other hand, is just my kind of character: prim and proper, intelligent and brave, and loyal to her best friend, Jemima evolves throughout the novel and her journey is a satisfying one to behold.
This novel was the first I’d read in the cozy mystery genre, and I was unsure if I would be able to handle a story whose central concept was murder. I’m happy to state that The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder is much more than just a murder mystery. Yes, Herringford and Watts are out to solve the wrongful deaths of two of females; however, McMillan uses her wordsmithing skills to weave a story that instead focuses on the circumstances surrounding the conditions that allowed such felonies to occur. I was captivated by her prowess to use this story to bring the challenges and hardships alive that women and immigrants faced in Toronto at this time.
For a vintage-styled twist that brings new life to the historical fiction in the CBA, look no further than Rachel McMillan. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder is a historical romp that brings humor, history, romance, and social awareness to the forefront of Christian fiction. This is one you’ll want to add to your to-read list right away.
RATING: 4 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.