Monday, April 21, 2014

Death by the Book: Review

Death by the Book is the second in Julianna Deering's Drew Farthering series of cozy mysteries set in the 1930s. It is just a few months after the events in Rules of Murder--when Drew helps Chief Inspector Birdsong get to the bottom of a series of murders committed at his country house--and Drew wants nothing more than to spend his time convincing his lady love to accept his proposal of marriage. But his plans are interrupted by the arrival of Madeleine's disapproving aunt and another series of murders that once again strike too close to home for comfort.

First, Drew's solicitor is found murdered in a hotel room--bashed over the head with a bust of Shakepeare and with a cryptic message "Advice to Jack" affixed to his chest with an antique hatpin. Suspicion surrounds the man's family when it is discovered that the supposedly upright member of community was having an affair with a shop girl. But then a local doctor is found dead on the golf course of Drew's club and again there is a strange message pinned to him with a hatpin. Two more deaths follow, and the murder of a young woman makes the police settle on one of Drew's acquaintances as the culprit. But Drew's interpretation of the hatpin clues makes him certain that Inspector Birdsong has arrested the wrong man. But will Drew be able to find the real villain before someone even closer to him is killed?

This series is fun and breezy with definite homage being paid to Christie and Sayers as well as other literary lights. The characters are well-drawn and interesting and I thoroughly enjoy the conversations and interactions among them. The addition of Aunt Ruth is a masterstroke that kept me laughing every time she appeared. She is just sure that Drew is out to ruin Madeleine's virtue and she'll do whatever she can to put a spoke in that romantic wheel. The weakest part of the story is the mystery plot--I spotted the perpetrator quite early for reasons I can't mention without spoiling it and I'm not completely sold on the motive. But following Drew and company as they make their way through the clues and watching he and Madeleine sort out their relationship more than made up for it. 
★★★ 1/2 (rounded to 4 on Goodreads)


fredamans said...

Not sure I would enjoy such a predictable book, but maybe. Great review!

Debbie Rodgers said...

I thought Rules of Murder was very clever so I'm looking forward to this one. I'm glad to hear it sounds like fun!

Unknown said...

Glad you enjoyed this one! I really liked how the mystery played out...the random factor is always creepy. :) I loved Aunt Ruth too, and I hope she shows up in the next book!

Peggy Ann said...

I did enjoy this too Bev, I did not guess the culprit though. But thought the motive very weak too. Still a fun read.

Yvette said...

Hmmmm, never heard of this one, Bev. Thanks for the intro. This sounds like the sort of thing I would like.

It might be a dangerous thing to be a friend of this Drew Farthering character. :)