Monday, August 5, 2019

Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan, 2019

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Hamish DeLuca and Regina "Reggie" Van Buren have a new case--and this one brings the war in Europe dangerously close to home.

Determined to make a life for herself, Regina "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 that seem to link Boston to Hamish's hometown of Toronto.

When an act of violence hits too close to home, Hamish is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.

(336 pages)

I enjoyed the first book in this series, so when I was offered the chance to read the sequel I jumped at the chance. I'm a long-time murder mystery fan, and Hamish's sweet, shy character made for an interesting new type of detective. I'll be honest, I didn't care quite as much for Reggie's fairly typical "rich girl with spunk" persona, but I liked her enough (and liked watching Hamish like her) that I looked forward to seeing how things progressed between them in this book.

But I have to say, Murder in the City of Liberty definitely doesn't live up to its prequel. It's just not as tight a story. Things that don't really seem connected just sort of happen periodically, and there are too many different characters and perspectives on the story that don't really go anywhere but distract from the main story.

And don't get me started on the love triangle in this one. If it was a bit much in the first book, it was a LOT too much in this one. There's some trumped-up reason why Reggie just has to marry Vaughan, and most of the time I was reading about it I was internally rolling my eyes. I'll be honest, there certainly were times when I did get wrapped up in the character drama and enjoyed it, but the overall situation was just drawn out enough that I couldn't get completely lost in it. Possibly because there are like three times per character where either Hamish or Reggie has an "ah-ha" moment where they internally realize/acknowledge how they really feel for the other . . . but then nothing really changes, and they have the same eureka experience a few chapters later. This is especially egregious for Hamish.

As for the mystery itself, I'd say that in some ways it was actually more interesting than the first one. The exploration of hate crimes, and racial bias in detection, was an interesting angle. The book explores discrimination against African Americans, plus anti-Semitism, and I appreciated the effort. I did think the ending was a bit too far out there to really bring any message home about any of the issues it was dealing with, since it felt pretty contrived, but it was interesting anyway.

All in all, a pretty entertaining read but not quite as fun as the first one. If you're interested in Murder in the City of Liberty then, by all means, pick it up. But if you're waffling on it, then maybe give this one a pass.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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