Rules of murder

Title: Rules of Murder (Drew Farthering #1)

Author: Julianna Deering

Read by: Simon Vance

Category: Mystery

Published: August 1, 2013 by Bethany House

Audio published: August 1, 2013 by Brilliance Audio

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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Introducing 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. 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. With the help of beautiful and whip-smart Madeline Parker, a guest from America, Drew proposes to use the lessons he’s learned reading his mysteries to solve the crime. Before long, he realizes this is no lark, and no one at Farthering Place is who he or she appears to be, not the butler nor blackmailer, the chauffeur nor embezzler. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer and trying harder to impress Madeline, Drew must decide how far to take this dangerous game.

Bethany House publishes Christian fiction and non-fiction. This is one of those cases where you need to be a bit familiar with the publisher, because the Christian bent is not mentioned in the blurb. It’s not preachy though, it’s done with a light touch.

The book had so much potential. First off, I loved the cover. It’s set in England in the 1930s, which is a great time period, and I like country estate mysteries. Actually the mystery was pretty good, even if the motive was a bit iffy. There were plenty of clues and red herrings and mistaken identities. The police want Drew and his friends to stay out of the case, leave it to the police, but he can’t. After all, it happened at his home, and all the suspects are people he cares about or has known for years.  Throughout the book, Drew’s friend, Nick, who helps with the investigation, brings up the “rules” laid out by a famous mystery author, which was a bit clever, I though. Of course, the case goes against all the fiction rules. The author in question would not have approved of hidden passages or mysterious Chinese men.

Simon Vance is the narrator, which also made me have high hopes. He does as good a job as always, really bringing Drew to life, although something about some of his women’s voices was a little jolting to me. It’s not surprising that he captures the accents well, both the English and American. I’m also surprised by how flat Americans sound in British novels. Do we really sound like that?

If Deering had just stuck mostly with the mystery, I would have been happy, but Drew and Madeline have to fall in love. At first, while I was thinking about this review, I wondered if I just have a problem with romance in a mystery, but I don’t think so. I love Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence, Marsh’s Alleyn and Troy, and I’m sure there are more, but those are the two that sprang into my mind. I like romances that add to the mystery, that enhance it. Here is just takes away from it.

Drew and Madeline’s romance is just too cheesy, It’s so sweet and full of longing, flirting, and leaning into protective arms, it’ll make you roll your eyes. It was almost bad enough to make me quit listening. And to think they had known each other for only a couple of days – it seemed like forever. And even in the 30s, I’m not sure a young woman’s guardian would allow her to remain at a house where two and then 3 people were murdered, alone, discounting the servants of course, with the young, single master of the house, when her friends have continued on with their tour.

As a mystery, there was too much romance. As a romance, it was not to my taste (which sounds nicer than “not very good,” doesn’t it?).

Drew Fathering Mysteries

  1. Rules of Murder
  2. Death by the Book
  3. Murder at the Mikado