This book was received as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review
The moment I saw the cover of this book I knew I just had to read it. The beautiful almost maroonish-brown background with the beautiful calligraphy and vintage motifs was something I absolutely adored. Also, it proclaimed the novel’s genre pretty clearly, I thought, in an extremely subtle and stylish manner. The only surprise, in a good way, was to find myself in Toronto instead of London, which is where most historical dramas are set.
Since I have been remiss about having read the series in the order that they were intended, I have missed out on the introduction of Merinda and Jem to detective work. They are best friends and are really protective of each other. When this book opens, we find Jem, who is married to DeLuca now, being served a notice of termination from her job since married women were no longer eligible for work (what?!?!). Jem and her journalist husband are not doing too well at the moment, both financially and emotionally and it is imperative that Jem find a paying client to prevent absolute bankruptcy in the DeLuca household. Her husband seems to concentrate all his energies on trying to get his stories and to provide for his sister and her son since his brother-in-law is a vicious, good-for-nothing bum. Most of what he earns, he sends to his sister in Chicago. That his wife comes second in his priorities becomes pretty obvious very early in the story. Jem, on the other hand, comes across as extremely sweet tempered and absolutely in love with her husband and loyal to him and all his idiosyncrasies.
Merinda Herringford is still single and quite a character from what I read. She is so full of energy that just reading about her left me a little breathless. And the fact that she is also a scientist of sorts makes her all the more unique. That she is extremely intelligent is not in doubt, but her social skills seem to be not so well honed at all. Jasper is a friend and a member of the local police force who helps the girls as best he can. He is also madly in love with Merinda, and one can not help but feel incredibly sorry for him throughout this book.
When a member of the Canandian mounted Police, Benny Citrone, appears on their doorstep looking for Herringford and Watts, assuming them to be men, he is persuaded by the friends that they are just as good for the job at hand. The assignment is to search for his cousin who has gone missing and who seems to have some very dangerous skills at his disposal. Benny also manages to shake up Merinda and make her suddenly conscious of emotions that have been dormant forever it seems.
The fact that I began to feel so strongly about the different characters marked this down as a good read for me. The historical and political plot lines of the times that have been sewn into the story were accurate (according to google aunty) and eye-opening. I seem to be getting most of my lessons in politics and history from the fiction I am reading nowadays, which is always an added advantage. Adding the names of famous people to spice up the plot can always be risky but the author has carried it away with flair. I found myself getting increasingly irritated with Merinda and DeLuca though even when I knew that they were just following their instincts. Thankfully things panned out well towards the end.
The part of the story that took place in Chicago was most interesting and much faster paced than when the protagonists were still in Toronto. I would have wished that the political motivations of the times and the people could have been explained more (since I was not very familiar with it), but for those who are familiar with it, the descriptions should be enough to refresh memories.
The ending of the book solved the mystery of the missing man, but left so many questions about where the lives of the characters will lead that I have no choice but to keep my eye out for the next installment.