Friday, June 21, 2019

Book Review - Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan

Book Synopsis
Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case—and this one could demand a price they’re not willing to pay.

Determined to make a life for herself, Reggie Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes.

When Hamish has his careful constructed life disrupted by a figure from his past, he is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Review
Murder in the City of Liberty is a mystery set in 1940 Boston.  Reggie (Regina) Van Buren and Hamish DeLuca have a small detective agency.  They are hired by Errol Parker, a black baseball player who is facing harassment because of his race.  There is an atmosphere of great tension in Boston, with members of a hate group meeting and spreading pamphlets.  When Hamish's cousin Luca suddenly appears, the mystery becomes even more complicated.

This book is the second in the Van Buren and DeLuca mystery series.  I did not read the first book and wish I had, because there were numerous references to characters and scenes from the first book.  It took me a few chapters to catch up, but I did, and settled in to enjoy the mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction, enjoy mysteries, and am fascinated by the 1940's as a historical period.  The author did a wonderful job at capturing the 1940's with period details through the book.  There are fascinating references to dances and movies and old time radio shows.  For instance, a family friend tells Reggie that she is "playing Nick and Nora Charles" (from The Thin Man) with Hamish.

The baseball setting is interesting, and the author evokes the atmosphere of an old time ballpark:

"The collective din of the stands, the squeak of the bleachers, the organ pounding out jingles and ditties and chords to inspire spectator fervor.  The shifting scoreboard and communal enthusiasm.  The smell of popcorn and beer and, as in tonight's game, the inimitable scent of almost-summer: grass and something in the air that overtook the salt and yeast of the vendors' carts and gave way to the most alluring type of nostalgia" (p. 119).

I really liked Reggie and Hamish as characters, both individually and together.  Reggie is very brave and spirited.  She has a Journal of Independence including a variety of goals:

"Sometimes as in the case of 'Learn how to properly make a bed,' the entries were left untouched in her perfectly taught cursive.  Other times they were scrawled or scratched out with enthusiasm like, 'Stay up 'til dawn.' Which she seemed to be doing now" (p. 149).

Hamish deals with anxiety, and this is dealt with honestly and sensitively in the book.  He is very dashing but also seems vulnerable and real.

There is a lot of back and forth between the characters, as they are romantically interested in each other but don't want to upset the balance of their work relationship and friendship.

The mystery aspect of Murder in the City of Liberty slowly unraveled, piece by piece, and it was very well done (and kept me guessing).  I enjoyed seeing Hamish and DeLuca solve the mystery.

I have already recommended this series to two friends who enjoy historical mysteries.  Readers who enjoy the 1940's will especially enjoy the period details in this well written book.  I am looking forward to the next book in this series!
Author Bio
Rachel McMillan is the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary romances set in opulent Vienna, and the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries praised for bringing an authentic 1930’s Boston world to life while normalizing the fictional conversation surrounding mental illness. Her first work of non-fiction, described as a romantic’s guide to independent travel, releases in 2020. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada.


Connect with Rachel

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Lynne said...

Thanks - I enjoy cozy mysteries AND the 40s, so this one sounds perfect. I will be looking for it, and I think try to get hold of the first book before I read this one.

Sara Strand said...

This sounds like an interesting read especially for people who enjoy a bit of nostalgia in their reads. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours