Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery
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. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.
Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.
Deering's historical mystery, set in 1930s England, has all the elements of a good story, but they don't sum up to a fresh whole. Andrew "Drew" Farthering and his friend Nick son of Farthering Place's intrepid butler, Dennison team up in Hardy Boys esque intrigue with their era-appropriate Nancy Drew, Madeline, to uncover the perpetrator of a series of heinous crimes. Blatant clues are showered on the reader like annoying confetti as the rather predictable plot meanders to its obvious conclusion. Lovingly detailed period couture description and cultural references provide some relief from stilted, repetitive dialogue and unlikable characters. When not coming off as utterly patronizing and as a caricature of British gentility, Drew wears his affected mannerisms like a badge of honor. While Madeline has the makings of a sympathetic female lead, she appears simpering and weak. Matters of faith are given lip service before being relegated to the literary cupboard in favor of imagined mysteries, gratuitous murders, and flirting. This is Downton Abbey meets Saturday Night Live.
Rules of Murder, A Drew Fathering mystery
I never figured out who the perpetrator was until the end. Especially I liked the English setting and the time period, with social mores, so uplifting. And ah, the romance. Tied together very well with interesting characters, good plot, and the deserved justice.