Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rules of Murder: Review

Julianna Deering (aka Deanna Julie Dodson) tells us in the afterword to Rules of Murder that once she decided to write a mystery in the Golden Age tradition she thought it would be great fun to break every rule listed by Ronald A. Knox in his ten commandments for mystery writers.  What a clever idea--and how delightfully clever the result! The only possible improvement I could suggest would have been to allow the reader to try and spot all the transgressions rather than have one of the characters announce each one as they came along.  It would have been fun to see if I could have listed them all.

Rules of Murder is set in 1930s Britain. Most of the action takes place at a country house, complete with country house party and a corpse in the greenhouse.  The corpse is one David Lincoln--a slimy, blackmailing cad who probably deserved what he got, but hopefully not from Drew Farthering's mother or step-father. Before long the country house grounds are littered with bodies.  Drew, his life-long chum Nick Dennison (boon companion and son of the butler), and the lovely Madeleine Parker (niece to Drew's step-father) are soon on the case--trying to prove that Drew's mother didn't commit suicide and his step-father didn't commit murder...among other crimes.  

This is a fabulous first entry into a new series that brings back all the fun and feel of the Golden Age of mystery.  Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers would definitely approve of the obvious homage paid to the classic tales of detection.  The characters are just right for the period and Drew Farthering is an absolute charmer. There is romance and humor and plenty of amateur detection.  Farthington and friends make all sorts of mistakes on the way to the solution--and the police are good, solid investigators (not the bumblers that often appear in vintage novels).  I look forward to future installments and am interested to see what Deering does by way of an encore in Death by the Book (due out in 2014) after this four-star beginning.

[Disclaimer: My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate...I won this review copy through a GoodReads First Reads Give-Away and it was sent to me by Bethany House, the publisher.  The book was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]


Becky said...

Sounds fun! I love Golden Age mysteries :)

Kimberlee said...

This sounds like an absolute intriguing read. Just added it to my wish list. Great review!


nigel.holmes said...

Josef Sckvorecky wrote a series of detective short stories that each break one of Knox's rules, called "Sins for Father Knox".

Bev Hankins said...

@nigel.holmes: Yes, he did. I read those back before my blogging days, so I don't have a real review--just a star rating. I'm afraid I didn't care for them much. I gave the collection two stars.

Ryan said...

This sounds like a lot of fun.... I have to be on the lookout for it.