Toss together the 1920s, flappers, the filthy rich, classic Hollywood cops, the mafia, and as dysfunctional a family as you’ll ever meet and you will get Ronald James’ Harrington Manor – the fast, fun, and extremely catchy story of the Harrington family and all that being a part of it entails.
Patriarch Peter and matriarch Cora rule as best they can over a brood of two wayward sons, Shep and Reggie, a dutiful daughter, Margot, and an odd son out, Orson. Shep and Reggie want Peter and invest the family money, and there is a lot of it, in the stock market or turn the family estate over them since he had a stroke and they claim he isn’t well. Peter refuses, adamantly. Margot mostly drifts around, enjoying the life her birth blessed her with and wishing for more at the same time. Orson’s are in line with his father’s, even as his behavior befuddles his father.
The Harringtons are supported by an eclectic cast of characters; illegal immigrant chef Elena, stuffy butler Charles, Cora’s quirky sidekick Sara, Emily – the girl Reggie loves who loves Orson, and Shep’s badgering, hateful wife Doreen. The Harringtons, it must be said, wouldn’t be quite so interesting without this group.
Suffice it to say, a lot happens in the course of James’ novel. Three murders, an attempted murder, tales of Prohibition and the apathy toward it, family secrets from decades ago, illicit love affairs, and a delightful nosy neighbor who is sadly underutilized in the story.
For so much happening in the story, it seems strange that the thing which is most lacking is conciseness. There are many times when James seemed intent on setting the scene by telling every detail, even the unspoken thoughts of random minor characters, rather than showing the reader what was happening with action. Those periods were lulls in an otherwise fast and fun story that I will read again.
I received a copy of Harrington Manor through NetGalley and Mythic Dragon Publisher in return for an honest and original review.