Book Review: The Nancys by R.W.R McDonald

the nancys
The Nancys book cover

Blurb

The Nancys is adult crime fiction in the tradition of a whodunit murder mystery, except all the characters are completely out of control and pay no attention to any rules.

TIPPY CHAN is eleven and lives in Riverstone, a two pub town in South Otago, New Zealand. The same town her UNCLE PIKE escaped from when he was a teenager. Tippy loves her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early versions where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery.

Tippy’s chance comes when her mum goes on holiday, leaving Uncle Pike and his new boyfriend, DEVON, in charge. When her teacher turns up dead beside the small town’s only traffic light Tippy teams up with her babysitters to form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.

But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs in to a risky investigation. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the killer, and an intervention from Tippy’s Mum all conspire against The Nancys. While the town grieves everyone believes the police have caught the killer, including Tippy’s mum. It is up to The Nancys to go against the flow, as well as questionable interior design and fashion choices, to solve the mystery before anyone else dies.

The Nancys is a book for anyone who’s ever felt outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and the courage required to tell the truth, no matter what the cost.

wp-1594086446016.jpg
The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

My Review

The Nancys is an adult murder mystery inspired by the classic Nancy Drew books, but it’s so much more than that. It also explores complex themes about outsiders, the family we choose, courage and the importance of telling the truth.

Eleven-year-old Tippy Chan is still grieving for her father when her Uncle Pike and his fashion designer boyfriend Devon arrive from Sydney to care for her while she goes on a cruise. Tippy and her mother still live in the same house in the small two pub town of Riverstone New Zealand that Pike escaped from as a teenager, so his return inevitably brings up ghosts from his past. I grew up in small-town myself, so I could definitely relate to Pike’s uncomfortable experiences bumping into ex-boyfriends and old nemeses and all of the weird feelings that can bring up!

When Tippy’s friend falls off a bridge in mysterious circumstances and then her teacher is gruesomely murdered Pike, Devon and Tippy form a club inspired by Nancy Drew to investigate. Using Pike’s network of old contacts, Tippy’s keen sense of observation, and Devon’s fashion sense, The Nancys seem to be getting close to cracking the case. The only problem is making sure they discover who did it before anybody else gets hurt … or Tippy’s mum puts a stop to their investigation.

I loved this book! It’s in a similar format to a classic Nancy Drew mystery, but it also has so much warmth and heart. I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books too when I was around Tippy’s age, and I think The Nancys absolutely did them justice. Nancy Drew really is a bit of style icon and I agree that the older books are the best.

I loved the close relationship between Pike and Tippy and the way he helped her and her mother deal with the death of Tippy’s father. Pike and Devon’s relationship was full of crude humour and in-jokes but I have a good feeling that their relationship will last longer than Pike’s previous relationship record of three months … I will hopefully find out the answer to that in the sequel coming out soon!

About the Author

 

RWR-McDonald
R.W.R. McDonald author photo

Rob McDonald is a Kiwi living in Melbourne with his two daughters and an extended rainbow family including HarryCat and Stevie Nicks the chicken. Rob realised while studying journalism that writing fiction, rather than reporting facts, was his true bent.

The Nancys is being published by Allen and Unwin with a release date June 2019. This is his first novel.

Rob is a 2016 alumnus of Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel Stage 1 and 2 where he worked on his manuscript The Nancys. In 2017 The Nancys was Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Outside of writing Rob works in international education.

Details

Published:  June 3rd 2019 by Allen & Unwin

Source: Own copy

Read: Kindle Edition, July 2020

Pages: 316

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2XiwMi4

Apple: https://apple.co/2KMQh0D

Google: http://bit.ly/2GkccXG

Booktopia: http://bit.ly/2PhmuMm

 

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

wp-1592203072592.jpg
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

 

Blurb

A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

wp-1592202874203.jpg
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My Review

Where the Crawdads Sing is one of those rare books that I would recommend to almost anybody. Beautifully written and evocative, it is an incredibly unique coming of age story wrapped up inside a compelling murder mystery.
 
The book is set in North Carolina in the 1950s-1970s. By he age of seven, Kya is abandoned by her entire family and left to live alone in a broken down shack on an isolated marsh. She manages to survive and to evade the school truancy officers by imitating the animals around her and with a little bit of help from the kind-hearted owner of a local gas dock and bait shop.
 
Kya opens up when two young men take an interest in her as she develops into a beautiful teenager, until, something unthinkable happens. This is where the murder mystery comes into play, so I don’t want to spoil that part for anybody.
 
Even though the townspeople view Kya as a wild “Marsh Girl” we learn that she is actually sensitive and intelligent young woman. Learning how to read and write as a teenager seems to be very easy for her (perhaps a little bit too easy?) and she spends her entire life observing and collecting incredibly detailed information about the marsh.
 
The accurate and beautifully written descriptions of the marsh and the animals that lived in it were the strongest and most evocative part of the novel. Delia Owens has spent years writing non-fiction about nature and that is evident throughout. The author has also done a brilliant job of weaving in the Southern feeling and accents. “Magnolia mouth” as one of the characters aptly describes it.
 
The ending of the book left me feeling so very sad for Kya and angry about all the people in her life who let her down. It’s heartbreaking to imagine such a young and vulnerable child/young woman being abandoned and let down by almost every single person in her life. I was furious when her mother’s story was revealed and I found many of the actions of many of the townspeople to be unforgivable.
Where the Crawdads Sing is one of those stories that I know will stick with me for a long time. The wild and ferocious beauty of the North Carolina marsh where Kya spent her time, the almost unbearable loneliness she experienced, and the questions it raises about the way our society treats our most vulnerable people are all rolled up inside a mystery that will keep you turning the pages way past your bedtime.
wp-1592203110063.jpg
Where the Crawdads Sing with Zeus Cat

About the Author

Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa including Cry of the Kalahari.

She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in NatureThe African Journal of Ecology, and many others.

She currently lives in Idaho. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel

delia owens
Author Delia Owens

Book Review: The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

van apfel WP
The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

My Review

A dark and atmospheric Aussie mystery set in the 90s. 

Tikka Molloy returns to her hometown in the suburbs of Sydney and she can’t help but remember the summer of 1992 when the Van Apfel girls mysteriously disappeared. Tikka was only 11 years old when her neighbours – Cordelia, Ruth, and Hannah – went missing, but the events of that fateful summer still haunt her. Her memories are sharp and vivid, although they are obviously tinged with the naivety of the very young.

Australian readers will appreciate the nostalgic early 1990s setting of the novel and the very Aussie language and colloquialisms. I found the inclusion of the Lindy Chamberlain trial an interesting way to place the novel squarely in that era, although I’m not sure how well I was able to connect it with the events in the novel.

I was caught up in the mystery surrounding the missing Van Apfel Girls and loved the dark and atmospheric writing. The mystery doesn’t get resolved in the end, but I think that suits this story and its dream-like feel.

4 stars!

 

Synopsis

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recounting of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Details

Author: Felicity McLean

Published: April 1st 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 304 pages, 2019

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan coming soon in 2020

I can’t wait to read the next installment of Dervla McTiernan’s Detective Cormac Reilly mystery series, The Good Turn. Coming to a bookshop near you in 2020!

‘With her third novel Dervla McTiernan confirms she’s a born storyteller’
Val McDermid

the good turn
The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan book cover

Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the biggest names in crime fiction, with both The Rúin and The Scholar garnering critical acclaim around the world and over 130,000 copies of McTiernan’s books sold in in Australia and New Zealand alone.

In 2020, McTiernan returns with her third Detective Cormac Reilly mystery, The Good Turn. Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter
Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone. For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

dervla
Dervla McTiernan 

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Rúin, was published in 2018 and went on to become a huge international success, receiving rave reviews from both critics and readers. The Rúin, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, the Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel and the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original. It was shortlisted in two categories for the 2018 Irish Book Awards, for the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards, and longlisted for the 2019 Indie Awards. Screen rights for The Rúin have been snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch. Dervla’s second novel, The Scholar, debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, confirming her place as one of Australia’s best crime writers. Detective Cormac Reilly and his team have become firm favourites amongst readers and the crime fiction community, with Val McDermid, Don Winslow, Candice Fox, Jane Casey and Chris Hammer all devoted fans of McTiernan’s writing.

Dervla was born in County Cork, Ireland, to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis, she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla now writes full-time.

For more information, please visit https://dervlamctiernan.com/

Instagram: @dervlamctiernan

Facebook and Twitter: @DervlaMcTiernan