My rating: 3 of 5 stars to Rachel McMillan‘s The White Feather Murders, her third historical cozy in the “Herringford and Watts” mystery series. This book was a tough one for me to review as I had a hard time staying focused, but I did like the story-line. Something about it said “keep trying” but ultimately, in the end, I wasn’t too keen on it.
Why This Book?
After joining NetGalley last month, I looked for books I could read immediately through automatic requests, as I needed to increase my review % and receive newer releases I wanted to read. When I saw the description of this book, and the cover, I thought it would be a good new series to read, even though I usually start with Book 1. It landed in my queue and I read it over the last few days.
The book (and I assume the series) takes place in the early 20th century in Toronto, Canada, just prior to England entering World War 1. There is a lot of tension in the air over whether immigrants from Germany and Italy are truly becoming Canadian citizens, or if they are secretly helping their home countries back in Europe. (Sounds familiar, eh?) Everyone was suspected of being an alien enemy!
Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts DeLuca are “lady detectives” who have become popular for solving crimes in the last few years, and they are called in by Miss Mueller, a German-Canadian woman, who fears for her brother’s life. He’s being beaten and harassed because he is German, even though he supports England and Canada in the war. The local police and the Mayor tolerate Merinda and Jem’s investigations, probably more than expected for the time period when women were foolishly not allowed to do much except mind the home and children; however, the corrupt Mayor really thinks both are frustrating and troublesome.
Suddenly, several men they know are found dead with a white feather strewn across their bodies. And then the German boy they were investigating is found dead with the same type of feather. But it’s when a car rams into Merinda and Jem that they realize someone is after them. Their families try to get the ladies to stop investigating, but the women are determined to solve the crime. And in the end, they do. But the path along the way is dangerous and misleading, especially when corruption lurks behind every stone they turn over.
The story feels real and the setting is clear. You feel a connection because this happened, even if you don’t hail from Canada.
It’s good to see two female leads, especially in historical fiction. Their actions feel accurately depicted.
The book has several small story arcs supporting the main investigation, which helps create a more robust world to read about.
Why I Struggled
There were too many characters who weren’t properly described or given enough distinction. I often felt confused as to who was on which side, finding myself skimming a few pages now and again to get to the end.
I never connected with the characters. The book felt too plot-driven with little focus on likability for the plight other than knowing it was unfair. I wanted the underdogs to win because that’s just who I am, but it wasn’t the writing that drove me to that conclusion.
I had high hopes but it felt too flat. I would have liked to see more drawn out scenes to help me understand why certain things happened. It was as if in the matter of one page, a body was found, they decided who did it and moved on.
I still don’t understand the end and how the killer just gave up. I won’t give away spoilers, but it must have been an old-fashioned villain’s way of doing things. Not what I expected!
Overall, the book had some good parts, and I wanted to like it more. I don’t think I’ll go back and read the rest of the books, but I might check out reviews on each of them, and this one, to see what I am missing. I admit I read more quickly than usual, and didn’t stay invested in it like I normally do. It may have been my fault that I didn’t like it that much.
On a side note, I watched the “Julie Bowen” episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” this week… as I love my genealogy. And she was researching two ancestors; one from Civil War days and one for WW1 where her great grandfather ran the national office of the American Protective League where they registered “alien enemies.” Reading about it in a book (in Canada) and watching it on TV (in America) happening at the same time nearly a century ago… made me think… we never learn our lessons, do we?
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.
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