A modern author who clearly enjoys capturing the essence of the classic golden age of British detective fiction - some anachronisms or social errors due to the author being North American - but another enjoyable read.
This is really a 3.5, but I rounded up instead of down because the mystery itself is well-crafted and I enjoyed the characters. It's a lovely homage to Golden Age detectives. There were 2 things I found jarring, which prevented me from giving it another star.
1 I was willing to accept Madeleine's views - the writer's a Christian and has written a Christian character. Speaking one myself, I found the religion a little trying but - much worse - unconvincing. This may be a matter of taste, but it didn't feel as if it had a place in this kind of book.
2 I think this series could benefit from an English Alpha/Beta Reader. If you're writing 1930s English characters, for goodness sake take care you make sure they speak English! This is something I think all American writers would do well to note and this writer actually wasn't too bad on the whole - although a couple of "What alls" slipped through the net. The big one, which spoiled the dialogue, and which has been pointed out many times in reviews is when the verb to get is used in the past tense. I hate to shout but IN ENGLAND WE DO NOT SAY GOTTEN!! As in eg 'he'd gotten himself into trouble' we'd say GOT.
On the whole, though, I enjoyed the series and would certainly read more by this author
It’s the summer of 1932, and young Drew Farthering is focused on one thing – getting the beautiful American Madeline Parker to accept his proposal of marriage. She’s in love with him, but she isn’t quite ready to say yes. Nevertheless, Drew is having his will changed in Madeline’s favor, and is scheduled to meet with his lawyer.
Except the meeting never happens. The lawyer is found murdered, with an odd note stuck to his chest with a hairpin. The note, written in a beautiful cursive handwriting on parchment paper, doesn’t seem to make much sense.
And then a doctor is killed on a golf course belonging to Drew’s country club. And a note is found pinned to his chest; same handwriting and paper but a different inscription. And then there’s a third murder.
Something is clearly awry in the village of Farthering St. John. And the murders are getting closer and closer to Drew himself.
“Death by the Book” is Julianna Deering’s second novel in the Drew Fathering mystery series. Published in 2014, the stories are set in 1930s England – and they are meant to remind us of the Golden Age of Mystery (the 1920s and 1930s). Deering’s stories have the slight twist of also having references to faith. Others in the series include “Rules of Murder” “Murder at the Mikado,” “Dressed for Death,” “and Murder on the Moor.” A sixth novel, “Death at Thorburn Hall,” is scheduled for publication in November.
With the help of his friend Nick Dennison, Drew begins to unravel the series of crimes. Madeline plays a somewhat smaller role than she did in the first novel; and she’s almost upstaged by a wonderfully domineering aunt who arrives from America to keep her niece out of the clutches of “those foreigners” like Drew.
“Death by the Book” is an intriguing mystery, and kudos to Deering for writing a story true to the Golden Age period.
I’ve always enjoyed Agatha Christie novels, as well as Georgette Heyer’s 1930’s detective romps. They are well-written with clever plots, interesting characters, and their ‘contemporary’ setting now reads as a delightful step into days gone by (well, delightful except for the body count).
Juliana Deering’s Drew Farthering mysteries take place in the Hampshire village of Farthering St. John, a small village in which everybody knows everybody else (and their business), and the class system is alive and well. Death by the Book is the second in the series, following Rules of Murder, but can easily be read as a stand-alone—like all good mysteries, we do find out whodunit (and why) at the end, but there is also the ongoing thread of Drew’s relationship with Madeline.
We get straight into the mystery when Drew visits his lawyer in nearby Winchester, only to find he has been murdered and left with a cryptic note stuck to him with an antique hatpin. There’s no apparent motive, and no suspect. Chief Inspector Birdsong is again in charge of the case—and he doesn’t want any help from Drew. However, the lawyer’s widow asks Drew to look into the case, and he soon unearths
The story then moves back to the Farthering estate, where Drew finds Madeline’s aunt, Ruth Jansen, has arrived to take Madeline back home to the States. I have to say I found this abrupt change of pace jarring and I wasn’t convinced by Miss Jansen, as she seemed to detract from the plot rather than add to it.
However, the murder mystery was excellent. As usual, I didn’t guess the identity of the culprit, but in hindsight, the clues all make perfect sense. Recommended for mystery fans.
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free book for review.