In Rules of Murder, Book 1 in Julianna Deering’s new Drew Farthering Mystery series, it’s Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie. How could this girl resist?
Julianna Deering is the pen name DeAnna Julie Dodson, who appears to be even more of an Anglophile than I am. She’s the author of the medieval Chastelayne Trilogy and makes her home in Texas.
About this book: Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.
Soon, financial irregularities at Drew’s stepfather’s company come to light and it’s clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline–Drew must decide how far to take this game.
Judge this book by its cover? Great cover, evocative of the story’s era, setting and tone.
Reminds me of… Lisa Bergren’s Grand Tour series
Buy or borrow? Borrow until you see if it grabs you.
Why did I read this book? For Bethany House Publishers for review
Would I read another by this author? Probably not
My take: I was immediately drawn to this book for its premise–a murder mystery in a Downton Abbey-esque setting featuring not only a dashing detective but an American visitor, a beautiful and whip-smart love interest named Madeline. (Those who know me will understand why.)
My ultimate reaction, however, was very mixed.
Though there was an early twist that completely undid my preconceived notions as to the story’s direction, the mystery was slow to take off and slow to develop.
While I liked the Madeline and Drew characters quite a bit, I was less enthusiastic, about their “spiritual” roles: with Madeline as the believer and Drew the skeptic who needed, for his own good, to be set straight, theologically speaking. I do acknowledge that many readers will welcome this element within the pages of a Christian mystery novel, but to me it distracted from the story and made some interactions between these characters less than believable.
Though the mystery was well drawn with plenty of satisfying turns, and the dialogue and characters reflected the era, for my taste this story lacked the edginess I’ve come to expect and enjoy in a British murder mystery.
Thanks to Bethany House for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Learn more about the author and her new series at JuliannaDeering.com.