Drew Fathering has returned home to the family estate in Hampshire, England, and finds his mother and stepfather are hosting a house party, and the ‘odious David Lincoln’ has been given his room. But other guests are more pleasant, particularly Miss Madeline Parker, his stepfather’s attractive American niece. Drew finds he and Madeline share a common interest in reading detective stories: Drew’s current favourite author is Ronald Knox, a Roman Catholic priest who postulated Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction (hence the book's title, Rules of Murder).
So, this is a murder mystery, and the party gives Deering a good opportunity to introduce the reader to the house guests, and to the victim. Someone dies (that’s not a spoiler. It’s a murder mystery. Someone has to die – see the above commandments), and Drew attempts to solve the murder with the help of Madeline, and his good friend, Nick Dennison (son of the Fathering Place butler).
The writing was solid, and I particularly liked the occasional injection of dry humour, as in this conversation between the Fathering Place gardener and the police detective, discussing what the gardener might have seen while pruning the roses:
“And did you see anything during that time?”
“I seen some of them has aphids.”
“I mean anything unusual,” Birdsong pressed.
“That is unusual for my roses.”
It’s been years since I read a Miss Marple novel or even one of Georgette Heyer’s contemporary detective stories (contemporary in that they were set in the 1930’s, when they were written). Rules of Murder is Christian fiction, so part of the story is Drew’s faith journey as well as his desire to solve the mystery.
The author has a strong voice and makes good use of vocabulary and word order to indicate the working class accent, and has a good grip on the vocabulary of the time (although I still noticed a couple of Americanisms, like a quarter after eight and inviting most everyone). But Julianna Deering has captured the essence of the genre, and I’ll look forward to reading more of the Drew Fathering Mysteries.
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. Julianna Deering is the pen name of multi-published author DeAnna Julie Dodson. You can find out more about Julianna Deering at her website.