Jem and Merinda, ah what can be said of these two? Merinda....I'm not so sure I have any words for her yet. She's such an intriguing mix of perfect manners and nonexistent tactfulness, with a brain that is constantly spinning with thoughts and ideas. Meanwhile, the "normal" things of life seem to never even occur to her! You know, like making sure she and Jem have food on the table and perhaps double-checking that they don't get caught by the Morality Squad...? Thank goodness for Jem! We spend much of the book in her head and she's quite a delight. By far the more sensible (and romantic) of the two, she's the one holding a steady job and keeping Merinda's ideas from getting too out of hand (most of the time). And she's the one fighting the doubts about where her life is going. Much as she loves Merinda (and loves detective work!), she still has her hopes and dreams of getting married some day and having a family. And that's where a certain someone comes in....
Dear, dear Ray, how I loved him! He's so sweet to his sister, which just endeared him to me. Because he's got such a gruff exterior and doesn't like to let anybody know about his soft heart inside. But once he begins to spend more time with our ladies....that protective and tender heart just can't be hidden. He and Jem were too adorable with all their awkward attraction. And Jasper! We didn't get to spend near enough time with him. I'm expecting more Jasper awesomeness come book two, Ms. McMillan! Especially of the "trying to woo Merinda" sort. I have a feeling those two are going to have quite a long road ahead of them. Poor Jasper. ;)
The Morality Squad and general deplorable conditions for women back then makes for several bits of frustration and scary moments for our two detectives. I loved how all the seemingly different mysteries came together and created quite a hullabaloo that just needed Merinda's brilliant mind to sort it all out. A big mystery is solved by the final page, but there is still much corruption and deviousness to be dealt with so I've no qualms that there is ever so much more to Jem and Merinda's story!
Take two awesome lady detectives, dump them in the middle of mayhem and murderous villains, give them two handsome gentlemen determined to cause their hearts a bit of havoc, add in all the little "footnotes" that were hilarious and great for helping us to understand particular moments, don't forget the sarcastic and witty tone of Ms. McMillan's writing, and you have the makings of a fantastic book one! It definitely needs to be added to your TBR pile as near to the top as possible. Then read it, fall in love with these characters, and look forward to book two! :)
**I received a complimentary copy from Harvest House through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
"I'm trying to get the perspective of the street people. Especially in contrast to big parties like this."
"Do you find that you make more money with that disguise?"
"I am not a woman!"
"I don't believe you!" He reached up and yanked off her hat, and a pile of brown hair fell around her shoulders. "You're the oddest hobo I've ever met. If we could just get that grime off your face. Now, Miss...Miss..."
Jem buried her face in her hands. This was awful. "Watts."
"Excuse me? You're muttering."
"Miss Jemima Watts."
"Ready for your interview, Miss Watts?"
"No!" Jem leaped to her feet, almost leaving her pants behind. She hitched her fingers into the belt loops, pulled them high over her bloomers, and strode away.