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Description - The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

'Funny, dark and above all, heart-warming, The Nancys is a celebration of what's important in life - which is family, friendship and also: makeovers. R.W.R. McDonald's novel is face-paced, clever and full of wit and repartee. McDonald pays homage to the novel's namesake Nancy Drew, but adds elements of RuPaul and Shirley Barrett's The Bus on Thursday. The result is a work of fiction that is smart, darkly comic and, in the very best of ways, completely bizarre.' - Katherine Collette, author of The Helpline

'A delight - moving and hilarious. I loved every minute I spent with these characters.' - Paddy O'Reilly

'How does The Nancys manage to be both sharp and blackly funny, but also uplifting and sweet?' - Toni Jordan

Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world - the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum's on a cruise.

Tippy is in love with her uncle's old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher's body is found beside Riverstone's only traffic light, Tippy's moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club.

But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous. A wrongful arrest, a close call with the murderer, and an intervention from Tippy's mum all conspire against The Nancys. But regardless of their own safety, and despite the constant distraction of questionable fashion choices in the town that style forgot, The Nancys know only they can stop the killer from striking again.

The Nancys is gripping and glorious, a heart-warming novel for anyone who's ever felt they were on the outside looking in. At its heart it is about the family we make and how we must summon the courage to face the truth, no matter what the cost may be.

Buy The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9781760527334
Format: Paperback / softback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 3-Jun-2019
Country of Publication: Australia

Book Reviews - The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

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Book Review: The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald - Reviewed by (19 Jun 2019)

4 stars

The Nancys is the first novel by New Zealand-born Australian author, R W R McDonald. While her mother is away on a two-week cruise, eleven-year-old Tippy Chan’s Uncle Pike is in Riverstone with his boyfriend, Devon, to keep an eye on her. Pike is expecting a boring time in South Otago, but mere days into his stay, one of Tippy’s friends, Todd Landers falls off the bridge over the River Clutha. Making their own entertainment is meant to include fun things like making-over for neighbour Melanie Brown for a Show Queen contest, not falling off a balcony and breaking an ankle. And certainly not a decapitated teacher.

While her best friend, Sam Chapman isn’t interested, Tippy is determined to solve this murder mystery, and her collection of Nancy Drew books (formerly the property of Uncle Pike) has given her an exceptional deductive intellect for a girl of her age. Devon is an enthusiastic participant, and christens the team The Nancys, although he often seems more interested in creating a Nancys logo T-shirt than solving a murder.

Unimpressed with police handling of the case, the Nancys do their professional best: they improvise a whiteboard to collate their information; they hunt down pertinent clues (and not a few red herrings); they (subtly or less so) question suspects, witnesses and anyone who can provide information they need. And finally, they have their man! (don’t they?)

With a primary cast that includes a heavily-tattooed Santa look-alike hair stylist, a camp fashion designer who talks in emojis and smart, brave pre-teen with initiative, it would be impossible to avoid an element of farce, especially when props like reindeer costumes, radical hair-dos, carved bars of soap substituting for mobile phones, mysterious origami flowers, an unusual necklace and crutches feature. A small-town A&P Show Queen contest adds to the silliness.

Underlying the murder mystery is Tippy’s own mystery of how and why her father died, and why her mother had removed all pictures of her husband and won’t talk about him. Tippy learns a bit about friendship, loyalty and trust, and a blame-the-messenger lesson, as kids try to do their best while some adults behave very badly.

The voice that McDonald gives Tippy is effortlessly authentic, and her innocent interpretation of the abundant innuendo that peppers the novel is often a source of humour. The liberal use of expletives and sexual euphemisms, and other inappropriate discussions to which Tippy is exposed, are possibly realistic given their socio-economic group, although it may make some readers uncomfortable. Undeniable, though, is that those closest to Tippy do care deeply about her. Moving and (often blackly) funny, this is a heart-warming read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.

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