It’s 1931. Young Drew Fartherington and his friend Nick Dennison arrive at Drew’s home in Fartherington St. John to find his mother and stepfather throwing a house party that’s in full swing. He’s incensed to find his own room occupied, and occupied, no less, by David Lincoln, the man rumored to have had an affair with his mother. The only bright spot is the arrival of his stepfather’s American niece, Madeline Parker, whom Drew finds himself immediately drawn to.
Before the weekend is out, David Lincoln is found murdered in the greenhouse, and Drew’s mother has apparently committed suicide. But something seems wrong about both deaths, and Drew begins his own investigation, with the help of Nick and Madeline.
And what Drew finds in Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering are secrets buried in the distant past, a different view of his dead father and mother, his understanding of his own life turned upside down, the financial standing of the family firm threatened – and more than a touch of romance.
Published in 2013, Rules of Murder is the first of four Drew Fartherington detective novels written by Deering (two more are scheduled for publication). Her detective in an engaging and intelligent young man, the sole offspring of a wealthy family that owns a chemical research and manufacturing company. The family is relatively new landed gentry. Drew’s grandfather helped to found the firm, convinced the local town to change its name, and built a family home specifically constructed with old building materials and in different styles to architecture purposefully to appear old and established.
The author has done her research well. The story has the air of authenticity and the feel of the Golden Age of the murder mystery – the 1920s and 1930s. The police inspector is not so much bumbling as off investigating other leads, so that Drew and his friends occupy center stage in the story.
As the bodies pile up (and they do seem to pile up), Drew gets closer and closer to the truth, despite a plethora of red herrings tossed in his (and our) way. But the story finishes well, and Deering has provided an entertaining, highly readable whodunit.
Photograph by Karen Arnold via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.