Murder in the City of Liberty

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

If you asked me who my favorite mystery-solving couples of the 1930s and 1940s are, I would have to say Tommy and Tuppence (even though they started in the 1920s, Mr and Mrs North, Nick and Nora, and Hamish and Reggie.
Okay, so Hamish and Reggie are only SET in the 1930s and 1940s, but they have so much of the same feel. Rachel McMillan has written their story (starting with Murder at the Flamingo) is such a way that it's hard to remember sometimes that it has a 2019 publication date and not one 70-80 years prior. It's hard to explain since it isn't as though the English language has really changed all that much since then ... but the feel and flow have. You know? Maybe? A little?
Murder in the City of Liberty takes place two years after Murder at the Flamingo and is, once again, perfectly set in Boston. The States aren't quite in the War yet, but tensions are running high amongst the classes and the immigrants. Through it all, though, there's baseball. There will likely always be baseball in Boston. Being a Braves girl I would have preferred them to be the team in question rather than the Red Sox .... but I get it. Even though I'm a Braves girl, Fenway is far more exciting than The Wigwam probably would have been for your average reader. 
Wow. Ramble much?
(The baseball tangent is more than just a tangent for the book -- it's at the heart of one of Reggie and Hamish's cases as they're hired by a minor-league player to investigate "pranks" the police can't be bothered with.) 
I didn't enjoy this as much as I did the first, but it's still a good read and I would recommend McMillan's books to anyone who likes a good historical mystery. I definitely recommend reading Murder at the Flamingo first, though. Not only is it a great book, but the backstory between the characters there and I'll never complain about more Nate and Luca. (I do need Maisie, though. A lot of Maisie. Up close and personal Maisie. You're killing me here, Rachel!)
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Hamish DeLuca, Regina Van Buren, and Nate Reis are complex characters in a world on the brink. Their relationships mirror the complexity of the times and the characters themselves. 

1940's Boston as the world surrounding the United States is at war is vividly depicted.  Hamish, Reggie, and Nate feel it inching closer as the ideologies behind the war loudly rear their ugly heads in their adopted neighborhood. 
These ideas and the hatefulness they spawn combine with the cold hard practicalities of war to create a case that leads Hamish, Reggie, and Nate to the brink.

While Ms. McMillan did a good job picking up the threads and explaining events in the prior (first) book in the Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery series, I was still occasionally frustrated by not having experienced the progression myself. 
This is due to the depth of the characters and their "lives", and is my own fault. My mistake will be remedied in the near future.

MURDER IN THE CITY OF LIBERTY isn't what I'd call a light read; it requires concentration. It's for those times you want to time travel, immersing yourself in another world by becoming someone else, tuning out the here & now completely; live dangerously even if it's only vicariously. 

MURDER IN THE CITY OF LIBERTY is for those times.

I received a review copy from Thomas Nelson via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
4.5 stars
Review will post to my blog 5/26/19 @6am EST
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Spira, Spera! (I want this necklace, does it exist?)

I'll start by saying that you really do need to read the first book in this series to get the entire picture. I believe I would have been pretty lost, especially with so much reference to what went on and the continuing storylines from that book (and actually, if you want to get the *real* whole picture you should read the Herringford and Watts series before this one, you're welcome)

I just love the banter and interplay between Reggie and Hamish. Hamish is such a fabulous character, but I truly care about both of them as if they were real people. This isn't an easy-read mystery, there are many characters and a good deal of action, you need to pay close attention to what's going on. Even in the end, I'm not totally sure what I think about one of the characters...

This book and this series is a treat to read. I stayed up WAY too late reading and now I'll be thinking about it for days. Can't wait for the next one.
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I should have trusted my gut and not requested this one when it became available; after not liking the first one, I should have known that this one was going to be not for me, but I am always hopeful and optimistic, so I went ahead and got this one. Ahhh, yeah. This one is not working for me either. 
I don't like the characters or the pacing or really, anything about this book. Sigh. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson - Fiction for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Onetime socialite Regina “Reggie” Van Buren and shy lawyer Hamish DeLuca met in a previous book I haven’t read. But not having read the first in the series isn’t what kept me from enjoying this sequel in which the pair, now partners in a detective agency, look into some nasty pranks aimed at a baseball rising star. 

Set in Boston in 1940, Murder in the City of Liberty features characters that made me think of the 1980s television show Moonlighting: DeLuca is the stolid Cybil Shepherd character, while Reggie’s the devil-may-care Bruce Willis stand-in. As on the show, there’s a sexual tension between the two characters, with the female reluctant to reciprocate the male’s love. How could such a set-up go wrong?

Ask author Rachel McMillan. Somehow I could never get into this cozy mystery. Reggie seemed so foolhardy and thoughtless (her quest for “adventure” always seems to create trouble for DeLuca), and Deluca seems like such a sad sack that I have to admit that I couldn’t force myself to finish this book. Say what you like about the original Moonlighting, the actors made you care about the characters they played, Maddie Hayes and David Addison, and neither made stupid mistakes. I simply couldn’t make myself feel the same way about DeLuca and Reggie.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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This was a wonderful 1940’s mystery. It was amazing that the author brought forth authentic problems like racism and corruption. This gave the story a rounded and full quality. The characters were super sweet. I instantly fell in love with Reggie and Hamish; although, as cute as their “friendship” was, it did drag on a little long. 

“Hamish raised his coffee cup with a smile that stretched just wide enough to settle in Reggie’s chest and winnow its way down to her toes.” 

The writing was well done and was quite detailed - which is okay, but I felt that this somewhat slowed the pacing. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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More character and atmosphere driven than plot, but still a great read.

I really enjoyed this book!  The plot was a little meh - the beginning was extremely confusing, and it felt like they didn’t do much actual sleuthing - but the characters were wonderful.  They had friends and family beyond what was required to advance the plot which helped make them well rounded.  The atmosphere was nice as well - pre-WWII, people not sure if the US would enter the War or not with lots of discrimination, etc - and help enhanced them as well.  The attention to clothing detail, for example, and priority felt so appropriate to the time and characters as well.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from and voluntarily chose to review.
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Murder in the City of Liberty (

By Rachel McMillan, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2019, 352 pages.

Murder in the City of Liberty (a Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery) is the second in a series. Hamish DeLuca, a lawyer who suffers from anxiety attacks that prevent him from trying cases, has moved to Boston and made a name for himself in the community as a detective who helps the underdogs. His partner, Regina Van Buren, shares his penchant for adventure and solving mysteries. 

The action starts with Hamish and Reggie going down to the wharf to help out a potential client. Instead, they end up in the water fighting for Reggie’s life. Afterwards, they question what they saw, more importantly, they question who they saw. 

When they take on a case investigating the malicious pranks someone has been playing on Errol Parker, a minor-league baseball player, a tragic murder forces Hamish to wonder if someone from his past has returned. 

I didn’t read the first book in the series, and I often found myself lost as the author made cryptic references to actions and people in the first book in the series. For this reason, I found the book difficult to lose myself in for the first hundred pages as I tried to piece together what happened in book one. 

Once I figured out the basics, I enjoyed the book a lot more. McMillan writes in a terse style appropriate for a gumshoe mystery set in the 1930s. Although listed in the Historical Christian Romance category, there are few references to God, faith, or the other things one might expect in a book in this category. On the other hand, the actions of the characters remain chaste and the author hints at the darker details of life instead of spelling them out. 

If you enjoy Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mystery books, you’ll probably enjoy this series as well.
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I am a sucker for mysteries, especially ones set in historical settings! Getting to read a story in 1940s Boston was so unique. This book was super fast-paced and sometimes events would be unfolding without enough exposition but overall the story was pretty enjoyable. I'm also so glad I got to read something by a Canadian author because they're really underrepresented in literary fiction these days.
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Even better than the first one!  I felt like we got a lot more character development with Reggie and Hamish, individually (and together...).  I will say I enjoyed the character plot on their development even more than their latest mystery, but it was such a good read.  
I enjoy the setting, I feel like I have a good picture of the city, of their neighborhood.  I also enjoy Hamish's overlay of the city with his favorite novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  
This story is supposed to take place two years after the last book - this was my only qualm with the story.  The characters do not seem to have moved two years ahead, there doesn't seem to be enough history mentioned to make up for it.  The story picks up like there hasn't been any time lapse at all.  If I hadn't been told two years had passed, I wouldn't have known, and so I just kind of ignored that fact.  I feel like the only reason that was even included was to put us at the proper time on the eve of the War for certain aspects of the story. 
BUT!  Nevertheless, a great read.  Evil isn't always what it seems on the surface, and everything you thought you knew about the villains will be challenged.  Read on!
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Reggie and Hamish sleuthing team is at work to solve the seemingly petty crimes in the baseball world. 

After two years, Reggie and Hamish are still friends. Oh wells, good luck with that. Luckily, there are gangsters of all sorts to provide the opening for the changes in their relationship status - or to make them suffer. Or both. 

Unfortunately, this second installments does not hold my excitement of the first volume. Maybe because I am not interested in baseball. Or maybe I am too much interested in the bad boy Luca. Or maybe because Reggie and Hamish's "friendship" can be dragged only for so long. What they have been doing during the two years from our last meeting? 

So while this series have awaken my need to visit Boston and to watch couple of movies from the Hollywood Golden Era, I would prefer more active sleuthing. And more Luca! Luca, truly, is soul of this series for me - a bit darkened, but the more interesting for it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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“A little mystery, lots of injustice.”

Murder in the City of Liberty centres on a crime-solving duo - former heiress Regina “Reggie” Van Buren and shy lawyer Hamish DeLuca - who receive their latest case in the form of a series of hate crimes potentially linked to the outbreak of war in Europe.

I put off reading this book for ages, even knowing that I’d probably love it. But the first chapter really put me off. I felt like I’d missed a chapter or a book before this one - and I had, because it’s the second book in a series. However, there are ways to make subsequent books in a series accessible to a reader without ruining a book, and, indeed, the book’s second chapter goes on to do that perfectly. It would honestly have been a much much better way to start the book.

It’s hard to tell the actual tone - it alternates between philosophical gangster-noir and… lyrical historical romance? without much effort to mesh the two. Despite that, it’s well-written and flows nicely. The story is interesting, but I wouldn’t call it engaging.

Overall, a nice read with an excellent concept but not exceptional by any means.
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This was pretty good. I didn't realize this was the second in a series some how. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the back story. It was still a very good story, and I enjoyed it, but I would have enjoyed it more with that context. I think the beginning was particularly hard for me, since they just jumped into the main characters with little background. This is wonderful if you've read book one. Not so great for reading book 2 only. 

I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to leave a review.
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Loving this cozy, historical fiction series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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With a war stirring across the pond, tensions are high in 1940s Boston. As sides are taken and lines are drawn, Hamish and Reggie must find out where they stand–both as individuals and together–and who to trust.

Returning to the Van Buren and DeLuca Mysteries is a bit like revisiting old friends. I love Hamish and Reggie and Nate and was so eager to read more about them. It was charming to see the friendship between Reggie and Hamish evolve over the course of the novel, as well as to learn of a budding romance for Nate. In Murder in the City of Liberty, we see the dynamic duo further grow into their independence in the fabulous and charming city of Boston. I adored the early ‘40s setting and reading about Reggie and Hamish’s fledgling detective business. Scattered throughout the novel are references to classic literature and film, as well as history tidbits that will keep you turning pages; hallmarks of Rachel McMillan’s writing style.

Yet the book is not all fun and games. The serious issues of racism and mental illness are dealt with openly in this novel. Again, we are given a look at Hamish’s anxiety and panic disorder. His mental illness is dealt with in an honest and open way that will give fellow sufferers like myself someone to relate to. At times, it seemed as if the mystery took a backseat to Hamish and Reggie’s romance. Still, it was heartbreaking to read of the hate crimes that were so prevalent in the early 20th century.

While Murder in the City of Liberty might not have been my favorite offering from McMillan, I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it to fans of vintage tales and cozy mysteries.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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Hamish DeLuca and Reggie Van Buren are back in action with their own private investigation firm. Just be warned that it helps to read Murder at the Flamingo to know what’s happened in the past. This isn’t meant as a stand-alone novel. While there is a murder (as the title implies) much of the story involves Hamish and Reggie sorting out their feelings for one another. 

I love the settings and characters. The author paints a fabulous backdrop with Boston in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s. Just before the US joins WWII, racial and political tensions create an interesting and historical window into this time period. Hamish will steal the reader’s heart as he struggles to overcome anxiety to forge his own way in life, similar to what Reggie is doing by making hard choices to leave the past behind while she finds her own identity. 

The mystery part wasn’t as intriguing as the setting and characters and played a secondary role for me, so the element of suspense wasn’t there. It wasn’t a fast-paced novel, yet I became completely immersed in Murder in the City Liberty. It definitely transports readers to a different time period where the characters come to life on every page. The characters have real flaws and struggles, making them vulnerable in a way that tugs on your heart strings.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I love Rachel's characters and how she brings their time period to life. The characters are super fun and unique. This was an enjoyable historical mystery.
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This took me a while to penetrate - the opening is trying to accomplish so much in a condensed number of pages that I did not understand what was being established - but soon we figure that the gangster is dear cousin of Hamish, one of  a pair of old fashioned detectives  still grappling with that courtly form of sexism between them that pervades those couples who pursue crimes on a semi-amateur basis - this is set in mid 19th century somehow. In the end the crime is so  convoluted about a property grab  and the author spends much time on the romantic entanglements of the couple who are really, of course, in love with each other that it becomes romance novel..-  and  I cannot recommend this for any reader other than those liking romance. The family ties and melodramatic injuries to loved ones is not truly convincing. Pleasant enough cosy ...
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This is a second book in a mystery series.   I did not have the benefit of reading the first book.   Like some other modern mystery series, the latter books must recount much of the action of the earlier books.   Like some of the recent mystery series I recently have read, the focus of the story is about the main characters and the mystery plays a secondary role.

The strength of the book is that it gives what feels like an authentic picture of Boston at a certain period.   The weakness of the book is that I did not find Regina van Buren, the main female character, very convincing.   I did not understand what makes her rebel against her society upbringing.    Hamish Luca the main male protagonist of the novel is somewhat more believable.   Still I found it hard to believe that a lawyer trained in Canada could easily practice law in the United States.
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Having devoured Rachel McMillan's first book featuring Hamish and Reggie, I was over the moon to get a chance to read an ARC from NetGalley. I devoured this sophomore novel as well.
We return to Boston, and encounter Hamish and Reggie trying to give their detective business a go. I don't want to spoil any plot points, but there are a number of twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I love Hamish's anxiety-ridden character juxtaposed with Reggie's innate strength. These two are a dynamic duo of a kind I haven't encountered before, and they're a pleasure to follow through Boston's cobbled streets. I'm drawn in by McMillan's meticulous research of the era; I feel transported to a time and place gone by.
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