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Review: Conductor of Light by Rachel McMillan

by Rachel McMillan

In 1912, Jem DeLuca, née Watts, and Merinda Herringford are still working as lady detectives in Toronto. While Jem’s newspaper reporter husband Ray and Merinda’s admirer Detective Constable Jasper Forth go out to the theatre, Jasper having been set up on a date with a nice, church-going girl by his mother, the two lady detectives claim to be going to the picture show. Yet they can’t resist pursuing a case of a missing necklace on their way home, leading them just outside of the Elgin and Winter Garden theatres. Meanwhile, inside various performers go through their acts of singing, ventriloquism, and miming, among other things. As The Great Stephano performs the classic death scene in Romeo and Juliet, one half of the Tansy Twins playing opposite him, the charming actor suddenly and mysteriously dies. Jem, Merinda, Ray, and Jasper, along with a little help from Kat and Mouse, soon pursue the case, finding traces of rat poison in Stephano’s prop gauntlet. The team spends the night interviewing members of the vaudeville group, and soon finds that racism could play a part in the murder of the talented actor.

Another fun adventure in the Herringford and Watts Mysteries. McMillan’s love for theatre shines in this short story. Conductor of Light is full of charm with lots of quirky characters and a diverse cast. I enjoyed reading about the various acts taking place in the vaudeville set and of course, the humor that I’ve come to expect from this series.  I also love the quote by Arthur Conan Doyle used in the book, of which the title is derived from:
“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.” 
So beautiful. And the change that we can see working within Merinda; love it!

Sometimes, I get a little nervous about novellas and shorter books, afraid I’ll miss the details that really bring the story to life. But I never feel that way when reading the Herringford and Watts novellas. They’re fast paced, full of witty banter, and plenty of mystique as you try and guess at who has committed the most recent crime Jem and Merinda find themselves solving.

All in all, Conductor of Light is yet again a great balance of humor, heartfelt, and mystery with lots of historical charm.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. So glad you enjoyed this latest in Rachel's Herringford and Watts adventures, Miranda. Her books are always great fun. :)

    1. It was a really fun short story. I agree; Rachel is a very talented author!


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