Death by the Book, by Julianna Deering (Bethany House, 2014)
In 1930’s England, Drew Farthering is developing a bad habit of encountering dead bodies. This time it’s his solicitor, bludgeoned to death… and sporting a cryptic note in flowing calligraphy, fastened to his body with a fancy Victorian hatpin.
Chief Inspector Birdsong grudgingly allows Drew to participate in the investigation—ostensibly because Birdsong can’t ignore any potential source of assistance, but probably because he knows Drew’s curiosity won’t leave the mystery alone.
Drew works best in company with his best friend Nick and the young American woman, Madeline, who Drew hopes to marry. That will be harder this time, since Madeline’s Aunt Ruth has arrived to “protect” Madeline’s virtue and hardly lets them have any time alone together.
As the bodies begin to pile up, can Drew solve the mysterious notes, find the murderer, and win over the formidable Aunt Ruth?
I enjoyed Death by the Book‘s light, lively tone. Without minimizing the tragic deaths, Drew and company nonetheless try to see the lighter side of daily life.
Favourite line, describing Aunt Ruth:
She turned her head sideways, peering at him [Drew] over her wire-rimmed spectacles as if she were some enormous parrot in full mourning. (p. 19)
Drew has only recently begun to trust God to be personally involved in his life, and as the danger presses closer to home, he finds himself praying for safety. As he uncovers the motivations and moral lapses behind the crimes, his awareness of his own failings and weaknesses keep him from giving in to the anger that wants to lash out.
I had no idea whodunnit. None. Looking back from the end, the clues were there all along. I’m not sure if I missed something or if there was more coincidence involved in the plot than I like to see, and I can’t give details without leaking major spoilers. Either way, Death by the Book was a fun read and I hope we see Drew, Madeline and Nick again in another adventure.
Julianna Deering‘s website lists a third title in the Drew Farthering Mystery series, Murder at the Mikado, releasing July 2014. I like the covers for this series. They’re light, fresh, and they suit the tone. To read a sample of Death by the Book, click here.
[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]