Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Death by the Book.

Over the past year or two, I've become a little obsessed with mysteries. Between falling in love with BBC's Sherlock, watching the series from the 80s starring Jeremy Brett, and slowly growing my collection of Agatha Christie novels, I've learned that I love a good murder mystery. (Strictly fictional ones, though. I have zero interest in those shows about grisly true crimes. I like to sleep at night, thank you very much.)

I read Julianna Deering's book Rules of Murder at the very end of last year. I enjoyed it a lot, though I didn't absolutely love it like most people seemed to. There were a few things about it that didn't quite click with me, though I can't really explain why. Still, I was excited to pick up the second book in the Drew Farthering series: Death by the Book.

(First of all, can I just mention how awesome these covers are, in their vintagey, coordinating goodness? They look so neat next to each other on the shelf. :)

I actually enjoyed Death by the Book a lot more than the first book! The beginning was a little slow (which is ironic because it opens with the first murder), but once I was drawn in, I flew through this book. I really liked the unusual mystery: several murders with apparently nothing in common but the fact that each victim has a hatpin pinned to their chest along with a mysterious message. (The messages turn out to be literary, which was a neat touch, I think.) I really had no idea how the mystery would be resolved until about fifty pages from the end, and then suddenly I had a sneaking suspicion. I rarely, if ever, guess the correct suspect, and my hunch this time seemed even more far-fetched than usual. But, amazingly, I was right! I'm still in shock. :)

As with the first book, I love the setting of 1930s England. I like Drew and Madeline's romance, though I did get a little frustrated with Madeline's inability to make a decision in this book. I loved the addition of her aunt Ruth. I've heard several people compare her with Violet (Maggie Smith) from Downton Abbey, and I think that comparison is fair...though Ruth seems to be a milder version. :) I do have to admit that I don't feel really emotionally connected to the characters, though. That's generally a big deal to me, but with mysteries I don't mind as much because I'm there mostly for the mystery. If I do happen to connect with the characters, then great. But it's not as much of a deal-breaker for me in mysteries as it is with other stories.

I also like how the author isn't preachy at all, but subtlety weaves Christianity into the plot. And considering that this is Christian fiction, but also a detective story, I'm pretty impressed that the author doesn't shy away from murders...multiple ones, in fact.

Aside from Madeline's indecisiveness and the fact that I sometimes had trouble keeping track of the many people connected to the victims, I was pleased with Death by the Book. I'm glad that this second book seemed to improve on the first one, and I can't wait to read the third book, which comes out in July! I really recommend these books to anyone who loves a good detective story, especially one reminiscent of golden age murder mysteries.

*Note: I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.*


  1. Glad to know you liked this one better than book one, Kristin. I was curious as I've read some ho-hum reviews for Death By the Book. Clearly I *need* to read it soon. ;) Thanks for sharing your great review.

    1. I hope you'll like Death By the Book when you read it! :)

  2. I adore these covers too! That was the main reason that I decided to read Rules of Murder in the first place. :) Hopefully I'll get a copy of this soon, so I can admire it for awhile before I have a chance to read it.

    1. They look so great together. I love it when covers coordinate so perfectly. :) I think if you liked Rules of Murder, you'll enjoy this one, too!


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