Nancy Business by R.W.R. McDonald
Nancy Business takes up the story about four months after the first in the series The Nancys ends. McDonald was awarded the Ngaio Marsh award for Best First Novel with that effort, and does not disappoint with this sophomore offering. The central characters of Tippy, Uncle Pike and Devon have returned to celebrate the anniversary of Tippy’s father’s death and find themselves, yet again, in the middle of a series of events that rock the small town.
McDonald reinvigorates small town New Zealand with the revelation of a bomb blast that has long reaching repercussions for the Nancy team and their fairly interesting investigative process. The style of the novel is easily accessible for teenage readers through to adults while pushing along the narrative with some great plot twists and turns that even the most voracious reader will find both amusing and unexpected. Of particular note is the way the characters are so authentically New Zealand and capture the essence of what it is to live and be in small towns around the country. The dialogue (usually the thing that lowers the standard) is rich and lively while being used for real progress of the plot rather than endless page filling.
It’s challenging to find a book that is at the same time humorous, clever and unexpected. The weaving together of these three is quite the accomplishment and McDonald seems destined for more literary fame with this new crime novel.
While this is a sequel to the hit The Nancys, the novel is still accessible to those reading McDonald’s work for the first time. Certainly it has its moments of ‘in-jokes’ that only readers of the first novel would be able to relate to in a meaningful way, but that was only realised through some examination of reviews on the first book. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know sort of vibe.
In this modern day who-dun-it for little old Aotearoa, McDonald sets an ambitious task and achieves it with vigour and style. A wonderful light hearted and thoroughly enjoyable read for anyone.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Publication: Allen and Unwin, RRP $32.99