The Nancys, a review by Joanna

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The Nancys

RWR McDonald

396 pages

Allen & Unwin

Published in 2019



The Nancys is a cozy crime story set in Southern New Zealand about a young girl investigating a murder with the help of her jolly gay uncle and his boisterous boyfriend. It came highly recommended by my book club, so perhaps my expectations were too high, but while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t as funny as expected – or maybe I’m a prude but I just don’t enjoy this smutty type of humour…

Eleven year old Tippy is being left in the care of her uncle Pike, who has travelled from Sydney to a small South Otago town with his boyfriend Devon to look after her while her recently widowed mother goes on a much needed holiday. Bonding over a shared love of the Nancy Drew mysteries, they form their own crime-solving club when Tippy’s teacher is murdered.
This is all told from Tippy’s first person point of view, and admittedly her naive misinterpretation of comments made by the grown-ups was pretty funny, but then the joke wore thin with repetition. The story is actually quite dark in places – Tippy’s friend is in a coma, her father died in tragic circumstances and her mother is struggling, but then there is an overload of stereotyped silliness and cliches about gay men. The dialogue was not realistic at all and the mystery rather predictable. I’ve got the sequel on the shelf so may give it a go, as I do want to know what happens next, but need to read some grittier books first. 3.5 rounded down for language inappropriate for a cozy/YA story.

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