Let me just start by saying, when I grow up I want to be 12 year old Tippy Chan. Or at least occupy her world along with her pragmatic mother Helen, her eccentric Uncle Pike and his mostly over-the-top partner (and Tippy’s honorary sissy) Devon.
It’s so easy to get lost in the world RWR McDonald creates, that it seems very real. I feel sad at the thought of leaving them behind each time I turn the last page. Although – in reality – it feels as if it’s I’m the one being left behind.
I adored The Nancys; McDonald’s 2019 debut novel introducing us to Nancy Drew-lover Tippy and her family. In my review of that book my only qualm was that I felt the ‘mystery’ under investigation by The Nancys was perhaps a little weak – particularly in comparison to the amazing characters and witty dialogue on offer.
It’s certainly not the case here however, and the who and why-dunnit is complex and deeply rooted in town secrets.Nancy Business
by R.W.R. Mcdonald
Series: The Nancys #2
Published by Allen & Unwin
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, General Fiction, Humour
It's been four months since Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon were together for Christmas. Now back for the first anniversary of Tippy's father's death, the Nancys are reformed when Riverstone is rocked by an early morning explosion that kills three people and destroys the town hall.
A new case is born and the Nancys re-form. Is the accused bomber really guilty? Is there a second bomber? And if so, does that mean a threat to destroy Riverstone Bridge is real? And is asparagus a colour? Once again, it is up to the Nancys to go against the flow and ignore police advice to get to the truth.
I liked that McDonald pretty much picks up where he left off. Uncle Pike and Devon are back in Riverstone although Tippy notices Devon isn’t quite his gregarious self. I felt as if perhaps I missed a little context here, but assumed initially he was struggling with a form of PTSD as a result of the events of their last Nancys’ outing. But Devon’s propensity for jealousy soon rears its ugly head and we (kinda) learn there’s another source of disagreement between the couple.
I felt like Tippy and Devon bonded more here, with Uncle Pike almost on the outer as he plays the role of the more responsible adult this time around (in relation to both Tippy and her sissy!). Tippy’s mum is more present as well, though when the book kicks off Tippy’s harbouring some resentment that Helen is working given it’s the first anniversary of her father’s death.
Her dad’s death was touched on in the first novel and McDonald progresses that plot arc here. In fact, there’s a connection between her father and some of the players involved in the events of this book.
It has to be said, a bombing seems a bit extreme for a town with a population of 3687. Initial claims of terrorism are soon debunked and though fingers are pointed at an obvious culprit others have their doubts. As does Tippy who convinces her fellow Nancys to hit the trail despite some initial reluctance.
In many ways the mystery on offer here is a perfect reflection of small town life and its very-open secrets often not-kept.
Again, despite the interesting the narrative surrounding the bombing and its motivation, it’s the allure or charm of Tippy and her support cast who continue to drawn readers in(to) this book (or series).
There’s a sense of impending change here however; (almost) a coming of age for Tippy as she battles to understand the nuances in relationships between the adults around her; and her own with them as they start to evolve.
There’s so much to love about this book. References to Nancy Drew’s exploits are again littered throughout. It could easily be seen as ‘light’ or cosy crime, but amidst the levity of some of the scenes and dialogue McDonald (again) proffers more challenging and confronting themes of trauma and death.
I sat there feeling like I had when I learned about Dad dying, or my teacher’s murder. Surrounded by something invisible, like a cushion of air; a kind of darkness you could feel if it wasn’t just out of reach. Not inside you yet, but once it was, your light inside dimmed a little more forever. p 35
Nancy Business by RWR McDonald was published by Allen & Unwin in Australia and is now available.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
By the way… I’m part of a blog tour and running a giveaway on my Instagram and Facebook pages over coming days so visit me there if you’d like to win a copy of the book thanks to Allen & Unwin. And check out the other reviews and posts over coming weeks.