Monday, March 31, 2014

Death By the Book - a review

Drew Farthering wanted nothing more than to end the summer of 1932 with the announcement of his engagement. Instead, he finds himself caught up in another mysterious case when the family solicitor is found murdered, an antique hatpin with a cryptic message, Advice to Jack, piercing his chest.

Evidence of secret meetings and a young girl's tearful confession point to the victim's double life, but what does the solicitor's murder have to do with the murder of a physician on the local golf course? Nothing, it would seem--except for another puzzling note, affixed with a similar-looking bloodied hatpin.

Soon the police make an arrest in connection with the murders, but Drew isn't at all certain they have the right suspect in custody. And why does his investigation seem to be drawing him closer and closer to home?

I really enjoyed the first Drew Fathering book, Rules of Murder, but I have mixed feelings about this one. It felt less tight and put-together. It felt less like a stand-alone story and more like a sequel, which, I suppose, it is. But still...
I'll give it to Julianna Deering that I didn't guess who did it until the end. As a matter of fact, it shocked me. It was plausible, but it didn't seem thematically right. But then, I don't suppose people have any consideration for themes when they choose to be murderers... Actually, I take that one back. This murderer was very interested in themes and such. The quotations from Shakespeare pinned to the body was a nice touch, even if rather morbid.
What irritated me, though (and it's in most Christian fiction, so it's not fair to blame it all on Julianna Deering) is Madeline's (Drew's girlfriend) silly hesitation about whether she loved Drew and wanted to get married or not. In the last book it was clear they loved each other.  In this book, they spend most of their time kissing and trying to keep it from going too far. One (at least someone portrayed as the perfect Christian girl like Madeline was) does not simply go around kissing someone like that and wonder whether one actually loves him or not! The hesitation-about-marriage theme can be done well, but it takes a lot of characterization. This simply felt like a plot device to add some tension to the romantic angle.
But there were some beautiful passages in Death by the Book. I guess it's that when you see ability in an author you hold her up to a higher standard which then she doesn't always measure up to.
But Death by the Book was an enjoyable read, for all that. And it's still head-and-shoulders above many Christian fiction novels.
My rating: 7.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: 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.