Photo courtesy of Julianna Deering
I’ve mentioned before that I love a good mystery novel. I love any well-crafted story, but if you give me a well-crafted murder mystery? Well, you just found the way to my heart!
Over the next week I will be posting reviews of Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mysteries. So far there are three books, beginning with Rules of Murder.
Set in 1930s England, Deering has created a world where Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie. Lovers of good mystery novels, Drew Farthering and his friend Nick team up to solve a string of murders. Drew, however, is distracted by his new friend from America, Madeline. Can they solve the mystery before the murderer gets away?
I must admit that I felt that Rules of Murder was a bit of a knock-off, pulling elements and inspiration from multiple sources, but not coming across as a coherent whole.
My greatest concern was that the theology presented in the book was a bit shaky. While referencing the Westminster Shorter Catechism and Scripture, which I appreciated, Rules of Murder also seemed to infer that we must come to Jesus of our own volition, and that Jesus simply waits for us, which is not what Scripture teaches (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13).
I was also disappointed in the way that Deering handled the romantic interaction between Drew and Madeline in Rules of Murder. It felt forced, consuming too much of the story. Why couldn’t Drew and Madeline just be friends? At times I felt like I was reading a romance novel, rather than a mystery. I also found Madeline to be a weak female character, especially as she is the primary female character throughout the book, as well as the main character’s love interest.
Overall, I found Rules of Murder to be both disappointing and enjoyable. With a tighter focus, I believe Deering could quite possibly become a great mystery writer, something that the Christian market desperately needs. I would give Rules of Murder a “C”.