Murder at the Flamingo
by Rachel McMillan
From Thomas Nelson, audiobook narration by Kristin James
This is my first book that I've read by Canadian author, Rachel McMillan. I was drawn into the story and really enjoyed the settings and the characters. Having visiting Boston during a college exploration trip for our daughter, it was fun to go back in time to 1930s era in Boston. I did get a couple of the characters mixed up and I reached out to Rachel to help clarify for me. Obviously if I'd been reading the book rather than listening this wouldn't have been an issue.
I was delighted to read where the hero has an Anxiety Disorder. Frankly, we don't get to read many stories that feature a flawed hero like Hamish. I was looking forward to hearing how God helped Hamish overcome. Was thinking this could even be a good bibliotherapy book. See my next comments.
The story reminded me very much of a clean reads novel from another author. I kept listening for the Christian fiction component, the spiritual arc. And I kept listening. It was an engaging story, the characterization was good, and I enjoyed Rachel's author voice. But I never did find the Christian fiction component or the spiritual arc. So at the end I felt rather flummoxed. This was a Thomas Nelson story and it read like a clean read story not a Christian fiction. I was disappointed. I do think the market is going in this direction and we're going to find this more often. So I'll be checking in future to make sure the time I invest time in a listen is for a CF story -- I do want that clear spiritual arc.
Here's what Rachel McMillan had to say about the Christian element. She has given me permission to quote her: "It's more thematic. It's infused in the mentions of Hunchback of Notre Dame. In the grace distributed by Nate to the North End community. In the loyalty and unconditional love of Hamish to Luca. My books don’t have overt Christian elements or frames. It is more implied in message and symbol."
“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure....”
Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times - including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square. When he meets his cousin's “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.
Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.
When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston - and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.
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