Tag Archives: Julianna Deering

Review: Death by the Book, by Julianna Deering

Death by the Book

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.]

Review: Rules of Murder, by Julianna Deering

Rules of Murder, by Julianna DeeringRules of Murder, by Juliana Deering (Bethany House, 2013)

Drew Farthering: From the tip of his black Homburg to the crease in his cheviot trousers, he’s the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered. (from the back cover)

Drew is charming, urbane, and he wants more than the party circuit that absorbs many of his peers. He and his best friend Nick (son of the family butler) enjoy mystery novels, so what better sport than to investigate this crime? Except when the second victim appears, the deaths become personal.

Madeline Parker makes a delightful third member of the sleuthing team. Newly arrived from America, she catches Drew’s heart at their first meeting. But in a house of mourning, it’s not a good time to explore their mutual attraction.

Rules of Murder has the delightful tone and setting of a Golden Age English house party murder mystery, worthy of Agatha Christie herself. It has a gentle thread of faith, as Drew begins to wonder about the God he thought he outgrew.

The title comes from Father Knox’s Decalogue: The 10 Rules of (Golden Age) Detective Fiction, regularly quoted by Nick in the novel. Drew and Nick – and author Julianna Deering – know the rules, but this case wants to break each one.

I’m not much for villains who give a full explanation at the end, although in this case I’m not sure how else readers could have had our questions answered.

Rules of Murder is a satisfying mystery novel notwithstanding, with well-developed characters, layers of meaning and splashes of humour. I’m looking forward to the next Drew Farthering Mystery.

Julianna Deering is the pen name of historical fiction novelist DeAnna Julie Dodson. Check out this excerpt from Rules of Murder (the first paragraph convinced me to settle down and enjoy this book) and the author Q&A with Julianna Deering. You can read another interview with the author at Divine Detour.

 [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.]