Murder at the Flamingo

Murder at the Flamingo

by Rachel McMillan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785216926
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Series: Van Buren and DeLuca Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 201,641
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rachel McMillan is a history enthusiast, lifelong bibliophile, and author of the Herringford and Watts series. When not reading (or writing), Rachel can be found at the theater, traveling near and far, and watching far too many British miniseries. Rachel lives in Toronto where she works in educational publishing and is always planning her next trip to Boston. Facebook: RachKMc1; Twitter: @RachKMc; Instagram: RachKMc.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Heartbeat, Hamish. Assess your surroundings. Acknowledge the trigger point. Assure a corner for quick retreat before the symptoms draw attention.

When he could finally blink his surroundings into focus, all he saw were dozens of perplexed eyes studying him concernedly. Others coughed and turned away. The courtroom seemed smaller, suffocating. He loosened his tie with one hand, feeling his heart's rhythm with the other. But it was too late. He was supposed to take preventative measures.

As long as he could remember, and often without rhyme or reason, he would have an episode of nerves. According to his doctor in Toronto, "nerves" accounted for his bouts of panic, tremors, shortness of breath, and a myriad of other things. The doctor had heard of relaxation treatments prescribed to patients who shared Hamish's symptoms. Other doctors had more advanced treatments, some more drastic than others, including frontal lobe surgery or the shock treatment he had read about in studies reported by the Telegraph. He didn't belong in one of the asylums he read so much about by the light of a torch under his quilt when he was a kid, spending a night wide-eyed in terror that he would be locked away. Yet something caused his fingers to tremble and his heart to speed up and his words to trip over themselves — sometimes for no reason at all. Something that turned his first real court case into a waking nightmare. In that moment of humiliation, he would have done anything to get away. But he saw it through: tripping through an apology and sitting back down, the world closing in around him as he studied his shoes, the air so heavy he finally rose and rushed out of the double oak doors, their broad weight slamming behind him.

It would have been all right, of course. He could explain momentary panic and fall back on his proficiency. Most of the time, no one knew. He kept it well hidden.

In chambers, one of the two Winslows (Hamish had trouble telling them apart) stabbed him with the words that set his life in motion: "I hired you as a favor to your father." Of course he could have been angry, but it was the terse inaction that instead startled Hamish. He would have rather been yelled at. The slightly checked anger made Hamish think that he was getting some kind of special treatment.

Hamish barely caught the gulps of breath that had driven him from the floor after the sentence had been read. And that was what clinched it. Hamish's father had gotten him his first real position.

"Cat got your tongue, DeLuca?" said one of the interchangeable Winslows with a snarl.

Hamish thought he had done it on his own. He was top of his class at Osgoode Law School. His grades were impeccable. He was well rounded in everything but sports. When you hid away a lot, you had ample opportunity to refine skills like playing chess and solving math problems. And it still wasn't enough. He hadn't gotten into one of Toronto's top legal firms on his own. His editor father had paved the way.

He went back to the office on nearby Yonge Street and, ignoring the secretary's chipper greeting, wandered in a daze into Mr. Winslow's office on the second f loor. No doubt the reporters were having a field day, scratching in shorthand about the young lawyer who froze and panicked in the middle of a case.

But he wasn't fired. Mr. Winslow wasn't even angry. Well, not angry enough anyway. "It's all right, DeLuca. Everyone has a moment."

Hamish didn't remember if he gave his leave or mumbled anything politely before hurrying down the corridor of City Hall and into the sticky June air. The Toronto Telegraph office was a quick stretch from the offices on Yonge to King Street West.

As he was more prone to nerves than anger, the heat crawling beneath his collar was an unfamiliar sensation. He gave his father's name and lied that he was expected. As the elevator girl adjusted her small hat and stepped to the side of the sliding door, Hamish's mind buzzed with what he would say the moment he crossed into his father's window-side office.

The chime announcing his arrival at the thirtieth f loor came much too early for Hamish's liking. He gave an absent thank-you to the elevator girl, failing to notice how she watched after his mumbling.

Hamish passed reporters, their desks strewn with folders and papers. It was a chaotic space. A noisy one. One that made Hamish tense up, his shoulders rise a little in the direction of his ears, even as he smiled and acknowledged a few hellos from people who recognized him. A constant tapping from a telegraph machine accompanied the rest of his journey.

"I thought I had done something on my own!" Hamish's voice creaked a little on the ascent when he told his father why he was there. "Without anyone. That I had finally conquered enough of ... enough of ..." He spread his hands, unable to think of how to describe what startled him from his sleep and hiccupped his voice in anxious moments. That forced him to double over sometimes, trying to catch his breath, trying to focus his eyes on a corner of the wall until his head stopped rushing and the air returned to his lungs.

"I will do something on my own," he vowed. "And I will be good at it. I will prove it! I don't need you to open doors for me. I will rise above this ..." He raised his still shaking hand. "And I will be exceptional at something."

"Hamish, calm down. I'll get you a glass of water."

"I am not a child." Hamish hated how he stuttered on a statement he hoped would be liberating.

"Don't throw away a good opportunity," Ray DeLuca said. "You're smart. You were top of your class. You can still prove yourself. You still will prove yourself. You had one setback. I am sure that they would have hired you anyway — or you would have found an equally prominent firm. There is nothing wrong with accepting a little assistance. You just have to believe in yourself the way that I —"

"The way that you believe in me?" Hamish shook his head. "If you believed in me, you would have trusted me to find my own way without interfering."

"Jobs aren't falling from the sky like rain, Hamish. You have to think rationally."

"I have thought rationally my entire life. I have never once stepped out of line. I still adhere to the curfew you gave me when I was sixteen years old. What kind of life is that? And now I find out that the one stride I made toward independence — well, that was you at the oar, wasn't it?"

He slammed the door of his father's office and cycled home at a furious pace, wondering if he would have been so upset had he not been so humiliated. He threw his beloved copy of Hunchback of Notre-Dame amidst clothes and shoes and left a note for his mother, who was visiting a friend.

So he ran away.

Hamish had a pretty good idea when people were lying. It snagged in his chest the same way the signs of a panic episode did. No, if he had been truly angry and not just miffed, Hamish might have been able to weather it. He might not have tossed all of his clothes in a canvas bag and booked a train ticket to Boston and Luca Valari.

Living in the back of his parents' two-story Victorian on College Street saved money and space. He even had a separate entrance from the backyard. Toronto's boarding houses and bachelor apartments were overrun with men and women funneling into the city to find work that was scarce in rural towns in 1937.

When people had pennies to scrape together, they allotted some for the purchase of the Telegraph, maybe to compare their situation with those less fortunate, perhaps to hold on to hope's slippery slope, even as tensions on the other side of the world boiled and brewed. Ray DeLuca, chief editor, was certain that bad news sold as well as good. And so Hamish enjoyed what so many others did not — a safe environment, a roof, a table full of food, and now a train ticket to see his cousin.

Now, staring out the train window at the whir of green speeding him far away from Toronto and home, he waited for his pulse to slow. It would — eventually. Though he had never done anything so drastic as storm out of his father's office at the Toronto Telegraph and cycle at two times his normal speed home to make a long-distance call to Chicago — only to be told that his cousin, Luca — the closest family he had beyond his parents — had relocated to Boston. He frantically stumbled through a few sentences with the operator in hopes of finally reaching his cousin before his mother returned home. Staticky seconds later, Hamish was patched through.

"Cicero!" exclaimed the voice on the other end. Luca was seven years Hamish's senior, but looked — and sounded — younger, especially when he used the old nickname. He didn't seem fazed when Hamish spilled everything. The court case. His father. "You're twenty-five years old. It's about time you ran away from home. What have I always told you? You have to be the hero of your own story! And you will be. Come to Boston. I'm opening a new club. Stay as long as you want."

Hamish rationalized he was merely going to spend some time with his cousin, but he knew it was his pride — and his disappointment that he had failed to live up to expectations. It humiliated him into adventure.

Hamish could be anything as long as he wore a disguise. As if he were in a carnival of people — as exposed as Quasimodo on the Feast of Fools, a hunchback mistaken for wearing a mask even when it was just the vulnerable ugliness he wore. The court had seen the real Hamish then, under the bright lights, the clock above the jury's box ticking loudly and matching the thud of his heart.

In the end it was the feeling of hopeless humiliation that drove him to Luca. Humiliation at a courtroom of his peers and Toronto's legal masterminds seeing him at his weakest when he most wanted to seize the day, like Quasimodo stepping out of the cathedral and into the sun. Humiliation at realizing that his firm had taken pity on him and that everyone knew — that everyone saw — no matter how he tried to iron out his voice, often taking a few ticks before speaking on anxious days, working it into an art so people assumed he was just thoughtful about what he was going to say. No matter how he hid his hand behind his back and monitored his heartbeat as his father had taught him when he was a child. Humiliation at not even being able to get his own foot through the first wide-open door of his life.

He reached into his bag and extracted The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, rolling the pages between his fingers.

The book knew where to open as Hamish reached for it, its pages transparent with wear, its words imprinted inside him. He nudged his black-rimmed glasses higher on his nose.

Beside it lay a pair of bellows no less dusty, the upper side of which bore this inscription incrusted in copper letters: SPIR A SPER A.

Breathe. Hope.

When the bells in his mind clanged. When his heartbeat wasn't tempered no matter how often he counted, when he looked out the window for hours, unsure of how to step out into the sun, he would conjure the words and tremulously repeat them. From one of the many chapters in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame tattooed on his brain, for when his father compelled him to hide his hand behind his back or excuse himself before his chest pains overtook him and a sheen of perspiration crossed his brow. As long as no one saw. As long as no one knew ...

He pushed his hair back. "Sometimes stories are in the people whose life's pages no one thinks of turning," his father once told him. Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure. Not just peer through a glass and count his heartbeat.

If he didn't take a massive step now, he never would.

Hamish retreated to the lavatory and splashed cold water over his cheeks. He combed down his black hair and met his eyes in the gold-plated mirror. He adjusted the buckles on his braces and attempted to smooth out the creases in his shirt. Never possessing anything close to vanity, he studied his visage in the harsh light of the upscale lighting, his hands splayed steadily over the marble counter, lips tightened and accentuating the comma of a dimple inherited from his mother set firmly in his left cheek. Unremarkable blue eyes magnified by his thick glasses.

Would he ever reconcile the Hamish he saw with the Hamish he was trying to be? Luca could help. His cousin had always boasted that under his tutelage, Hamish could have the world — and women — lining up at his door. Hamish wasn't as preoccupied with world domination as he was the potential of life with an easy confidence. He supposed that girls would follow after.

If he stayed with Luca (who always had the world bowing at his feet), maybe some of his cousin's impenetrable belief in himself and his life would brush off on him. Maybe he would become who he was meant to be.

CHAPTER 2

Boston Three months e arlier

Life wasn't like the pictures. With the panache of Irene Dunne, Reggie Van Buren should have been able to merely throw her suitcase out the window and scurry down an old oak after it and into her life of adventure, leaving her would-be fiancé Vaughan Vanderlaan nursing a too-sweet chardonnay miles behind her. But that was the problem with pictures. They never showed what happened en route to the adventure. They only showed what happened when the heroine arrived in the middle of the adventure. And the camera lens never panned to routine duties like fixing a clogged sink in the communal water closet or changing a lightbulb in one's new boarding house.

A New Haven Van Buren was not expected to know how to change a lightbulb. Subsequently, every fizzle and snap of the socket forced her into a quick retreat. More than once she almost fell backward over the chair she had scraped across the rickety floorboards to reach the dangling light. She looked at the bulb and sighed, stepping off the chair, and again considered asking the porter in the office on the main floor of Miss Clara's Boarding House for assistance. But every time she considered taking the two strides toward her bedroom door, her stubbornness reined her in. Regina Van Buren would prove herself capable of anything — from recklessly leaving the comfort of her wealthy life to making the bulb stick in its finicky socket. She took a deep breath, stepped back on the chair, squinted her eyes shut, and twisted the bulb in, flinching as it buzzed, not daring to open her eyes until the room radiated and she could see clearly even as dusk fell outside.

"Ha!" she said proudly, wiping her hands on her trousers. Another accomplishment to scratch off in her Journal of Independence. Reggie picked up said journal from the side table and opened it to a creased page, crossing through Change lightbulb. Another victory, though not as grand as the one she had crossed off a week previously — Find gainful employment. The moment the train screeched into South Station in Boston the week before, Reggie circled three prospective ads in the Herald, determined to lug her suitcase across the city until she found a means to put bread on her table and a roof over her head.

Boarding houses advertised as clean and respectable were listed by the dozen, and Reggie secured a room in one across the Charles River in Boston-adjacent Charlestown on Pleasant Street, near a tavern with wooden walls just down from Bunker Hill once frequented by the Sons of Liberty. She'd be able to take a quick elevated ride to Boston's North End if she was in a hurry or a brisk twenty-minute walk if she had time to spare. She emptied bills from a candy tin she had swiped from her dressing table at home. When the landlady pressed as to her being alone and unaccompanied by a male chaperone as reference, she peeled another bill off the wedge and explained her family had fallen on hard times. Her falsehood was thus overlooked and the room secured thereafter, Reggie having shrugged out of pretension and her allowance until all she had left were a few pieces of jewelry she intended to sell should her employment train not screech into the station.

She hadn't supposed her high breeding would be a detriment, but it was. Drat the years of diction lessons. The dancing. The tea parties elongating her spine and teaching her to speak with crisp, clipped consonants. Potential employers assumed a woman of her pedigree must be in some sort of trouble to be circling potential jobs in the classifieds. And not an acceptable manner of trouble either.

The first advertisement led her to an address on Washington Street and into the bustle of newspaper offices and theaters, cafés spilling onto the street, automobiles jamming along in the summer sun. She turned just before a jaunty alley through which she could make out the Common's spurt of green. Inside, she was met by a man on the wrong side of portly, folding in and out of his skin like poorly bound bales of cotton.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Murder at the Flamingo"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Rachel McMillan.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Murder at the Flamingo: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
jacksonmomLV 14 days ago
This was an exciting book that made me feel I was right in the heart of Boston with these two adventurers, looking for independence and freedom from family expectations. Full of lavish descriptions of life in 1937, and so many delicious quotes. Hamish wonders, "...what was love if not the ability to make a complete and utter fool of yourself daily just for the gift of breathing the same air as a person who made your heart sing and soar?" Such poetry from a shy guy whose panic attacks made him a loner most of his life! And the irrepressible heiress Reggie sees herself as someone who "colored inside the lines as much as possible for a girl who had left all she had known (including her parents' good opinion) behind." Together these two fall in love with Boston and each other, while solving a murder and righting some lesser wrongs. I absolutely loved the contrast between worldly Luca and his bookish cousin; Hamish had my vote all along. The supporting characters (Nate, Fidget, Mrs. Leoni) are colorful and delightful, and add so much to the story. Which, in my opinion, should be called MURDERS at the Flamingo...more than one dead body there! I received a copy of this book from the publisher via The Fiction Guild, and was not required to post a positive review. Finished it within 24 hours because it was just so captivating.
Deana0326 20 days ago
I really enjoyed this book and the time period it was set in. I don't know why but I felt like I was transported back to a time where clubs were fun and the music was swinging. The people were having a great time and happy times were on everyone's minds. Not everyone was happy though. Hamish suffers from anxiety and it comes up at the most uncomfortable moments in his life. When Hamish makes a decision to move to Boston, his life will never be the same. Does Hamish remember that you can't run away from your problems? Reggie Van Buren is also on a quest to start a new life and Hamish and Reggie's lives will collide into a mystery that will take them to the seedy side of club life. What better way to open a club than to have a murder take place on opening day. The place is in chaos and Hamish and Reggie team up to solve the case. I love the pairing of these two characters and they reminded me of a duo set to conquer the world. I loved the description of Boston and thought the author did a great job of taking us back to the 1930s in style. Her writing intrigues me and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next in the book. There are a few slow parts that made me almost give up on the story. I'm happy to say that the book shined at the end and I look forward to the next in this new series. I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
bjdoureaux 3 months ago
After Hamish DeLuca's anxiety gets the better of him during his first real court case as a lawyer, he runs away to his cousin, Luca Valari. Luca was the only person who never focused on Hamish's flaw, and treated him like everyone else. Regina Van Buren comes from high-class society stock, but she flees when decision for her life are being made for her. She finds a job working for Luca Valari, as his secretary, and begins taking steps to be an independent woman and live on her own terms. When a dead body is found at Luca's new night club, The Flamingo, Hamish and Regina take it upon themselves to uncover the truth, but there are some who don't want the truth discovered. I can't say that I enjoyed this one. I originally decided to read the book, because of the comparison to The Thin Man movies, which I love. Sadly, the only real comparison is that Regina and Hamish occasionally call each other Nick and Nora to boost each other's confidence. Let's start with what's good. McMillan does a great job of scene-setting and pulls the reader into the time period of 1930's Boston. The characters are well-developed. Hamish, especially, is a breath of fresh air as a male lead with a struggle like anxiety and panic attacks. Unfortunately, I had a lot of issues with the novel. 1) This novel is marketed as Christian fiction. While it is pretty clean reading, there is nothing decidedly Christian about it. There is no mention of faith or God in any way. 2) The murder doesn't occur until more than halfway though the story. The first half of the novel is really just setting the tone and getting to know the characters and city. 3) The writing was sometimes hard to follow. I had to go back and re-read lines or passages several times to figure out what was being described or discussed. 4) Regina has two love interests in this novel, and I was not happy with where it was left at the end. I'm sure this will be an ongoing arc as the series continues, but with all the build-up of connection with one of the love interests, I was very disappointed with the lack of resolution, and the turn Regina took as a character. 5) Hamish and Regina kind of stumble into the truth about the murder, and solve it with little evidence or struggle. People seem to suddenly open up to them. 6) There's an added mystery surrounding Hamish's cousin, Luca, who has a history of bad choices and sketchy practices. This new club is supposed to be a clean start for him. He puts his office in a poorer area of the city, and no one knows why. There seems to be a connection to that part of town, and how badly the tenants are treated, to the people Luca are involved with. Hamish and Regina stumble into the answer for this as well, and there is a very climactic scene that comes from it, but it left me feeling like nothing was actually answered. Murder mysteries are supposed to leave you feeling like you don't know everything, but this one left me feeling like I had almost no information. I felt like I was missing vital pieces of information. Like there was something even the main characters figured out that they hadn't let me in on. I was able to get to the end of this one, but I probably won't be reading the next in the series. Content Warnings: It is a murder mystery, so there is violence. A lot of scenes take place at night clubs with heavy drinking and lots of unsavory characters. Regina is also on the receiving end of some unwanted advances.
NatalieRae 3 months ago
It was like jumping right into a Sam Spade or Mr. Malone story straight from the Golden Age of radio dramas. I'm a huge fan of the whodunit mysteries and author Rachel McMillan dropped me right into the hustle and bustle of 1937 Boston amid the glitz, glamor, and underground world of nightclub shenanigans. This story offers incredible setting detail, memorable characters, and a mystery that'll have you sleuthing right alongside Hamish DeLuca and Regina "Reggie" Van Buren. A super fun read!! **I received a copy of this book from the Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Anonymous 4 months ago
If you wants to be carried back to 1937 Boston where women wore their hair in finger waves, men wore tuxes to visit nightclubs, and the population was divided between the have and have nots, you will enjoy Murder At the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan. Regina [Reggie] and Hamish are both running away from constricting pasts and are now looking for freedom to be themselves in Boston. Reggie finds that freedom in a job for Luca, a charismatic man from Chicago who is opening a night club [The Flamingo] in Boston. Hamish finds his escape in living with Luca, his cousin, and exploring Boston, claiming it as his town. Reggie and Hamish discover there are dark things going on behind and scenes. When Mary, a "cigarette girl," dies on the Flamingo's opening night, the police declare it an accident. Reggie and Hamish are determined to uncover what really going on and who killed the girl. Along the way, they make new friends among the non-elite of Boston and find a deep attraction for one another. This book is not one I would have chosen, but I'm glad I read it. The descriptions of Boston and its inhabitants are first rate and the story is one that will keep you guessing.
LucyMR1 4 months ago
Do you want to experience the life of Boston in 1937: from the poor to the lavish lifestyle of the rich? This book captures time and place so well that you can hear the bands playing and see the dancers in their satins and tuxedos . This is a portrait of some things not being on the up and up and an unlikely duo of two people trying to find themselves away from home. They team up to solve a murder mystery and along the way establish relationships with characters you either love or hate. I appreciated the way the author handled the subject of panic attacks and how it humanized Hamish. This is my first read by this author and I found it entertaining and interesting. I loved the historical aspect of Boston. I look forward to more adventures with this sleuthing couple. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
Faerytalemegan 5 months ago
Murder and Mayhem, O My! If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan is a little out of my reading comfort zone (as far as the time period and it being a murder mystery). So I am pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy this book! The story is a great one that focuses a lot on the characters and not a whole lot on the actual murder, blood and grime, etc. Our main characters, Reggie and Hamish, are both looking for adventure and really trying to find themselves, each in their own way. Hamish is not the usual hero, but one I think many readers will love. Hamish deals with panic attacks and anxiety (mental health is addressed in such a loving way through Hamish’s character). Hamish is very relatable, sweet, bookish and a real gentleman. I really like Hamish’s love of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the way he uses passages from the book to help calm his anxiety. I enjoyed Reggie’s character as well. She is very adventurous and independent. I didn’t like how Reggie has a boyfriend (who is back in her home town), but at the same time she is sort of developing a romance with another man. Mystery and suspense readers will find much to love in the story of Luca (Hamish’s cousin) and his nightclub, where the mysterious murder takes place. I enjoyed the literary references in Murder at the Flamingo and reading about the pop culture of the time. This is published by a Christian publisher, but there isn’t any overt faith content (except characters visit a church and mention it as a safe haven for all religions) but it is still very clean and has Christian themes, such as sacrificial love. Overall, this is a great read! I listened to part of it through an audiobook which I highly recommend, due to the narrator who does all of the different accents. Murder at the Flamingo presents wonderful themes of family loyalty (characters struggle with how far one should go in being loyal as compared to choosing one’s conscience), being the hero of one’s own story and learning to live in the moment. Content: This is a clean read. I would rate it PG for some minor content. This is a murder mystery that takes place in nightclubs during the 1930s, so keep that in mind. Some examples of the content are: the main character deals with panic attacks and anxiety; references to alcohol; a man makes unwanted physical advances on a woman but is unsuccessful; a mention of the devil and hell; a mention of cursing, but the words aren’t actually written; a woman is a man’s mistress; violence and talk about the mob; a murder takes place; a lot of drinking and smoking in the nightclubs. Rating: I give this book 3.5 stars. Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction; Romance I want to thank The Fiction Guild, Rachel McMillan and Thomas Nelson for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
nhr3bookcrazyNR 5 months ago
Loved the Boston setting and the characters! The character of Hamis DeLuca is endearing. And Regina is feisty. I love the "old" movie references, too. This is the first book I've read by this author, so I look forward to future books in the series! In the meantime, I will definitely read the Herringford and Watts books!
SemmieWise 5 months ago
** “What if home wasn’t something you were born into but rather something you found and ultimately chose?” ** Anyone who finds themselves lost in movies like “The Thin Man” series will fall in love with Rachel McMillan’s “Murder at the Flamingo,” set in 1937. Fresh out of law school, Hamish DeLuca suffers from severe anxiety. When an intense attack causes him to flee from a Toronto courtroom, he travels to Boston to stay with his cousin, Luca Valari, who is set to open a new nightclub, the Flamingo. After her boyfriend announces a non-existing engagement, debutante Regina “Reggie” VanBuren runs away from her home, setting out to “make it on her own” in the city of Boston. She secures a secretarial position with Luca, fielding mysterious and angry phone calls at his off-site office. When the paths between Hamish and Reggie cross, they quickly become close friends. And when a woman mysteriously dies at the Flamingo, they come together to find out what’s really going on with Luca and his popular club. They must overcome their fears and doubts to solve the mystery. “Murder at the Flamingo” is a fun novel with a film noir vibe. It is a book filled with a little bit of mystery and suspense, a little bit of tension, a little bit of romance, and a little bit of whodunnit. McMillan manages to create very fun and lovable yet relatable characters with very real flaws. Hamish suffers from what we today would consider anxiety and panic disorders. As the author reveals at the end of the book, she herself has suffered from these conditions, so she was very realistically able to portray his condition. Hamish also has a deep love for “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and relates much in life to scenarios from the book — even down to the “Spira Spera” sentiment from the book, which means “Breathe, Hope.” And with Reggie’s constant comparisons to everything happening in life to her favorite movies, including William Powell and Myrna Loy in “The Thin Man,” she is a delightful character, filled with naiveté at times, but also with real moxie. Luca is a deeply mysterious and complex character, and readers will enjoy the residents of the old town where Reggie’s office is located, including Mrs. Leoni and her yummy cannolis, and Nate, a local housing and development officer. Besides being a fun story, “Murder at the Flamingo” does offer up some good lessons too, like overcoming humiliation; hiding or running away from problems and fears; finding sanctuary; we all are able to make miracles happen; and finding home. A major theme in this novel is becoming who we are meant to be. We see this both with Hamish, as he overcomes his fears and anxieties to stand on his own two feet and assert himself, and Reggie, as she overcomes the pampered debutante image to find her own strength and independence. Occasionally, and only in extremely rare instances, I found the writing to drag a little, but overall this is a great novel and I look forward to more in the series! Fans of the old classic whodunnit films, murder mystery novels and even historical fiction will love “Murder at the Flamingo.” Four and a half stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Anonymous 6 months ago
“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 night club. 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. Murder At The Flamingo was definitely a dazzling mixed bag. This book was a very slow burning adventure to me, it didn't move as fast I wanted. The first half of this was talks about the club known as the Flamingo. The characters don't go anywhere near it until half of the book is gone and the murder takes places. I really did enjoy Hamish and Reggie, the rest were almost forgettable. I loved the way the author set up Boston, I think since this is a beginning of a series, she set a very good world for it to continue. Murder At The Flamingo is a good start to a new series, with undoubtedly two wonderful leads. I received this book in exchange for my honest review from BookLook.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Let me start by saying I love the cover. Upon first seeing it, it looked like a good murder mystery read and I'm a sucker for murder mysteries. Plus, the description of a character that investigates a murder yet suffers from an anxiety disorder. That sounded interesting to me. Author Rachel McMillan does an excellent job describing the typical symptoms one might experience when suffering from anxiety or having a panic attack. The actual murder doesn't take place until halfway through the book. That's the main complaint I've noticed from other reviewers. Readers are introduced to the players, especially focusing on Hamish and Regina as they're separate worlds eventually collide prior to the crime. While these readers don't care for the character building, it is necessary to understand where they're coming from, especially the two main characters. They broke away from their past lives where they'd felt imprisoned and are now free and making their own way in the world. Regina comes from money, so her goal is to be self-sustaining. Hamish wants to prove his father wrong, that he's capable of making his own way through the world, despite his disability, without being given handouts. Perhaps the character building lasted a bit longer, but really it was fine. And the author obviously loves Boston, so readers will have a lot of description regarding that area. Another comment I'd run across is that Regina comes across as too feisty, but then again too much of a damsel in distress. Uh, which is it? I found Regina to be a perfect partner for Hamish. Like Nora Charles "light", she has the tenacity, the witty repartee that makes for some entertaining conversations. At the same time, she does come from a privileged family, so would she really have the knowledge and know how to defend herself properly? Regina can hold her own in a conversation and she has a passion for detective work. Maybe the conversations are on par with Nick and Nora, but while reading, I definitely got that vibe and knew exactly what the author was shooting for.  Overall, this is a good read for mystery lovers. If you've enjoyed the old Black and White movies like the Thin Man series, you'll enjoy Murder at the Flamingo. I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. I hope to have a chance to read the next book, Murder in the City of Liberty.
Honolulubelle 8 months ago
Favorite Quotes: Sometimes stories are in the people whose life’s pages no one thinks of turning… Reggie didn’t have the privilege of choice when it came to finding gainful employment. Economic times had fallen hard for those with numerous skills she didn’t possess. She almost missed having someone to rush home and apply red lipstick for. Someone to turn in front of a mirror and adjust her skirt for. Someone she would watch the clock to be fashionably late for… They both knew Luca had a past. Heck, anyone seeing that suave Valentino gait would know Luca Valari had a past. And probably a present. There are layers and layers of crime here. You’d think it was a chocolate cake. “He’s too good looking to be sinister,” Nate reassured with a wink at Hamish. “Besides, he doesn’t have the right mustache.” Hamish couldn’t help but follow Reggie with his eyes. He hadn’t known fabric could cling like that. The material of her dress knew what it was doing… My Review: It took me several chapters to ease into this tale and acclimate to the writer’s style. This was a slowly developing story with tons of details that filled my head and initially appeared merely observational yet gradually most of these ancillary tidbits dovetailed into a finely woven tapestry. This was a thoughtful and insightful read that included, gangsters, mystery, a bit of pining romance, family drama, humor, Bostonian history, and one character’s interest in the newly created Superman comics. Murder at the Flamingo kicked off a new series and was my first time reading the talented scribblings of Rachel McMillian. Ms. McMillian has a unique writing style and provided a complicated and intriguing plot populated with distinctive, intriguingly flawed, and complex characters. Her writing was highly descriptive calling forth sharp visuals that included not only the sounds and sights but also set the emotional tone for each scene. What I struggled the most with was the lack of communication between the characters as they all seemed so secretive and furtive, as such, the majority of the book consisted of the observations and inner musings of the highly captivating two main protagonists who aspired to be Nick and Nora from The Thin Man movies, although, unfortunately, they were lacking the adorable Asta.
Marsha_Randolph 9 months ago
Appreciate the process! I began reading MURDER AT THE FLAMINGO by Rachel McMillan poolside. This book was to be my summer read and it did not disappoint. The problem was the number of interruptions I had as every time I got to a good spot. MURDER AT THE FLAMINGO is more than a murder mystery it is a classic movie in print. I was a participant in the 1937 based drama. I met each character: the anxious Hamish, the need to find herself Reggie and the various personalities surrounding the event. What makes a novel a great book is the stories surrounding the story. In the beginning the reader is introduced to two individuals who are struggling with the preconceived ideas of parents. Unable to cope they escape to a world unfamiliar. As you read this book, uninterrupted I hope, you find yourself going deeper and deeper into the world of 1937 night life in Boston. By the time you reach the halfway point you will be totally sucked in and no one will be able to interrupt you. MURDER AT THE FLAMINGO is the type of book I like; filled with personality, intrigue and the lack of modern dramatic hyperbole. Far to many books today have lots of sexual descriptions and violence that the imagination becomes unnecessary; they are quick reads, mindless dribble not so with this book. It’s a good book, get it! Written by Marsha L F Randolph I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
JennGrand 10 months ago
Put me in a 1930's Boston nightclub era book, and I'm hooked!! This book is such a fun read, intriguing, suspenseful and gripping. You'll meet Hammish and Regina, "Reggie," and the adventures that brought them both to Boston, and more specifically to the Flamingo nightclub. Hammish and Reggie are brought together at the Flamingo, both working for Hammish's cousin, Luca, and along the way, they discover the lure of the flashy nightclub life might not be what they were expecting.  Seriously, this book is such a fun read! You'll feel like you're right there in the 30's with Hammish and Reggie, and you'll be on the ride of your life. Read it!
CaraPutman 10 months ago
A delightful read for those who love the glamour of the 1930s. This book is an ode to Boston and a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. It is a journey of self-growth wrapped inside an intriguing mystery. Who’s the villain? There are many good culprits. But the hero is never in question. Hamesh DeLuca is a hero to love, the question is whether Reggie can see him that way.
Abby1219 10 months ago
Love love and love!! Sometimes the things that we believe hinder us can be the very things that make us exactly who we are. What we believe are issues that need to be kept hidden and kept secret could possibly be the very tools used to get us right where we need to be. Those insecurities and self-doubts that we try to hide behind can actually be something that makes us unique, helping to develop our character and have empathy for others, binding us to those who struggle with the same things we do. This creates a bridge of support not just for others, but for us as well. Setting us on a journey we never saw coming, reminding us that we've gained so much more than we thought possible.
NadineTimes10 10 months ago
After the way I enjoyed all of the Herringford and Watts mysteries by this author, there was no question I'd be reading this novel. McMillan has a distinct way of personifying a city, and 1937 Boston comes to life here, the social climate pulsing between different classes. Plus, I dig a hero (or heroine) who wears glasses! Even with the title, though, murder isn't a part of the plot until more than halfway through the story. While I do appreciate the character development along the way, I found much of the read to be slow, and my interest lagged until about the last third of the novel. Also, due to a "feelings back and forth between two men" kind of love triangle setup I tend not to care for, the end of the book was a downer for me. Now, I feel I should mention to fellow ChristFic lovers that this isn't a "come to Jesus" kind of story. Still, 1) this is a new series, and you can't judge an entire faith arc by one book (or by one "book" or season of any person's life, in real life); 2) I've already seen this author's finesse with faith before, even without quoting scriptures and such; and 3) there are themes in this novel that should indeed be important to people of faith, if you can recognize and appreciate them. All things considered, I'm looking forward to next year's release of the second Van Buren and DeLuca mystery. _________ BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
RRatliff 10 months ago
I was really excited about this book - especially coming from publisher Thomas Nelson. It's not often you find fiction from this era from a Christian fiction publisher. I was a little disappointed that there were no Christian characters and that faith and God did not play any part in the story, but it was a completely clean story, and I appreciate that. The story would point out that a character cursed, but it would literally say, "Luca cursed." or something to that effect. There are no actual curse words in the story. Characters were described as drinking alcohol, but the main characters typically refused alcohol - Hamish would order a Coke, and Reggie usually something similar. I think Reggie did have wine a few times, but neither Hamish nor Reggie were ever intoxicated. The writing is excellent - I've never been to Boston, but now I feel like I would recognize it from the story. The sense of time and place are very vibrant. I loved Hamish and Reggie as characters. I think Reggie's character development skipped some steps - she went from running from prominent family starting her "journal of independence" and working on small things, to suddenly having arrived at being a fully confident, self-supporting independent modern woman. I felt like she made some leaps without the requisite plot development, but I still loved her character. Hamish I think stayed a little more on track and the reader got a much better sense of his evolution throughout the story. The mystery was not as twisty as I usually like to see. It was a little flat. But I loved the writing and the characters so much, and I enjoyed reading about them. I will likely still continue with the series, because now I really need to know who gets the girl. ; )
Tangen 11 months ago
historical-fiction, historical-research, amateur-sleuth, anxiety-attacks, friendship, boston, the-mob I loved it! So atmospheric I had to recheck that it wasn't a reprint of a mystery written pre WW2. It's even complete with movie references familiar to my grandson at 25 and my kids 35 to ? The story is rather engrossing, the characters are engaging and very realistic, and you can almost FEEL the beat of the music in the clubs. The interpersonal interactions are a great part of what makes this book exceptional. The publisher's blurb gives hints and there is no need for spoilers, but I sincerely hope that many people take the opportunity to read it. I know that I will be buying copies for certain friends. I requested and received a free review copy via NetGalley. Thanks so much!
BookwormMama2014 11 months ago
Oh, Hamish...My Hamish...Where have you been all my life? Hamish is my kindred spirit. My best friend. The fictional character that I so desperately want to meet. For Rachel McMillan to take something that she has personally dealt with her whole life, and give it to her HERO...It is one of the most beautiful things you will ever witness. I feel like I not only know Hamish...But I know Ms. McMillan better. She opened her heart and let the words pour onto the page. The description is REAL, the emotion is REAL, the pain and the heartache is REAL. Anxiety...is REAL! In addition to the anxiety factor...We have all the makings for an intense and intriguing mystery. A suave Italian nightclub owner, a bad guy on the hunt, and a high class born young lady determined to solve a crime. One of the themes that stood out to me in this story, is the sense of finding home. "What if home wasn't something you were born into but rather something you found and ultimately chose?" Murder at the Flamingo is a story full of life and adventure! From the North End of Boston to the nightclub scene of the 1930s...You will want to dance the night away with Reggie and Hamish in this new mystery from Rachel McMillan! I received a complimentary copy of Murder at the Flamingo. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Buecherwurm161 11 months ago
A Nice Read. I got a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for a review, which I am happy to provide. Overall I liked the book and the characters, especially Hamish and Reggie, also the Author did a wonderful job of transporting me back in time to the 1930's Boston. But for me the story moved along at a very slow pace and I did not loose myself in the storytelling, also I would have like a bit more romance. Plus be warned you will probably crave cannolis while reading this book, I had to settle for some biscotti. I think Rachel McMillan will have a bright future.
CameraCourt 11 months ago
With Rachel McMillan’s distinct historical voice and attention to detail, she paints a vivid historical mystery with a hint of romance against the backdrop of a brilliant 1930s Boston scene. In her distinct way, she makes the setting a secondary character of its own, vocal and important in its culture and story role. With a fabulous puzzle solved and room for more adventures to come, the city comes to life as the characters grapple with loyalty, independence, anxiety, and purpose. Hamish and Reggie are endearing, quirky, enigmatic, and just plain lovable. Even secondary characters like Luca (whom you will dislike/love/want to hug all at once!) and Nate (and his wonderful candidness!) are sure to be favorites and promise to be even more essential in stories to come. And I just want to hang out with Reggie and watch films of the time! Fans of McMillan’s previous Herringford & Watts series will be ecstatic to learn of the “next” generation (Hamish is a DeLuca, after all) and see tiny nods to the previous series and a familiar name or two! Let’s stop right here and talk about Hamish. He is SUCH a product of his parents! But, he is his own kind of special, quirky, and important. Through his unique viewpoint, Rachel McMillan illustrates the challenges of mental illness — namely anxiety and panic — in a normalizing and emphatic way. This makes him wonderfully relatable — even for a reader with no personal experience with such challenges (like myself). I applaud her for using characterization to subtly bring awareness and empathy to the forefront in a way that adds so much to the story. I could talk all day about more wonderful elements of this story — lemon cannolis, bicycles, jazz, picture shows, DANCES, light bulbs, classic literature, and an implied message of grace. Instead, I hope you choose to discover for yourself all the intricacies and fun of this little mystery. I cannot wait to see where these beloved characters will take me next! MANY thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy. This is my honest review.
WildflowerMom 11 months ago
A unique start to a new series, set in 1937 Boston. Underneath the glitz and glamour of the nightclub scene lurks dark secrets and sinister characters. Loosely linked to the fun Herringford and Watts series, the fledgling detective team of Hamish DeLuca and Regina 'Reggie' Van Buren find themselves in the middle of a confusing murder investigation. Fans of classic films will enjoy all of the references and interaction of this pair. Old Boston is a lovely setting for a new mystery series with its history, and the dark undertones of the 1930's. The plot develops at a steady pace as Hamish and Reggie try to piece together what is going on behind the club scene, and the confusing 'who-dun-it'. Hamish is a complex character as he battles his own inner turmoil and struggle with anxiety, crippling at times. He and Reggie both are young people breaking away and finding their true identity and strengths. There are fun moments as the pair dances like pros--a version of Astaire and Rogers--and find their friendship growing as the tension mounts. Some action and final revelations made the ending exciting, setting up for the next book. Readers who enjoy a mystery with hints of romance, in a historical setting may enjoy this book. Look forward to the next installment. (An e-book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)