Nancy Business, R.W.R. McDonald

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

I'm not sure it's expected to be reading a crime fiction novel, and go from laughing out loud (waking everyone in the nearby vicinity) to sniffling. Or to find yourself going from immersed in a tricky and clever plot, to worrying yourself into an early grave over the possibility of the perfect partnership falling apart, but this is NANCY BUSINESS by R.W.R. McDonald and if there's anything to take away from this series of books (THE NANCY'S and NANCY BUSINESS) then expect the unexpected might be a cliche, but it's the most apt description I can come up with.

These novels are amazing really. Cleverly constructed, populated with wonderful characters and relationships, and a great sense of small town New Zealand, they are crime fiction with such heart, joy, love and acceptance that it may come as somewhat of a surprise that there are lessons to learn here along the way. The lessons about acceptance, inclusion and love are there from the first novel, but NANCY BUSINESS also gets into the outcomes of loss, grief, and the struggle for understanding that a little girl goes through after her father dies suddenly. Made worse when she discovers the secrets that have been kept.

Secrets being the entire point of NANCY BUSINESS. From the blurb, you get a feeling for the plot of this novel, from the opening pages you get a feel for the style of story telling, which is light, funny and oh so daring in many ways. McDonald uses light, fun and silly to remind us that life can be quite daft really, whilst bumping along underneath is the darkness of loss, and the damage that secrets can cause. There's lots of secrets here - some that cause a town to be terrorised, and people to die, some threaten loving relationships, and in particular, secrets that make it so much harder for a little girl to come to terms with the premature death of her father.

It may very well be possible to read NANCY BUSINESS at the happy, funny level, and go with the plot elements, maybe considering the evolution of the relationships and community and family dynamics at a later point, or never at all. For this reader the laughter never died away completely, but the tears were always there, and the worry about relationships falling apart instead of evolving never quite disappeared from my middle brain. It's these layers that made NANCY BUSINESS for this reader, and have turned the possibility of a third novel into something longed for.

(Some of you may be aware that whilst this novel was being written, some wonderful people came up with the idea of #AuthorsForFireys on Twitter - a way of raising money during the bushfire crisis of 2020. I was lucky enough, along with Agnes Lingane, Bram Presser, Jo Canham and Stella Glorie, to form the #ferretschnautzercartel and Stella-Jo, King Brammy, Hugo and another familiar name were woven into the the narrative in exchange for a donation to the effort - for more on just how well that entire thing went see: )

For more on Rob - please head over to his website:


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Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon are back for another camp cozy crime mystery from the award-winning author of The Nancys.

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.

It's great to be back in Nancy business again, but this time it's all different. Uncle Pike and Devon can't agree on anything and Tippy is learning hard truths about the world and the people she loves the most. Can the Nancys stay together to do their best work and save the town? Or will the killer strike again? When everyone is right, does that make you wrong? And can Tippy ever trust anyone again?

Review Nancy Business, R.W.R. McDonald
Karen Chisholm
Tuesday, June 8, 2021

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