August 14, 2013 Rissi JC 22 Comments

‘RULES OF MURDER,’ BY JULIANNA DEERING. Review of the 2013 historical fiction novel, book one in the Drew Farthering mysteries series. Text © Rissi JC

STORY: Life for Andrew Farthering is an easy one. As the only son of a wealthy entrepreneur, Drew lives a comfortable country life. But since the passing of his father, he’s left with his mother, a woman who never emotionally connected with her son. As a child, Drew became enamored with mystery novels, which instills in him a love of solving a jolly good puzzle. His stepfather wishes Drew would join him in the business, however Drew never feels totally at ease with the man.

Coinciding with his mother scandalizing the Farthering name, trouble comes a-calling on his own estate grounds, and Drew has more mystery than he could ever wish for. With the help of his best friend, Nick and a sassy American guest, Madeline Parker, Drew and the gang search for the clues that elude the police only to find out murder is not just the stuff Agatha Christie novels are made of.  

Rules of Murder, by Julianna Deering | Book Review

Some books are decent at passing time, and others make it onto reader’s inevitable “best of” lists. Rules of Murder has the distinction of the latter. Julianna Deering’s first in a trilogy series is such a charming novel and I feel quite at a loss as to how best to say this. There’s elements of classic British mysteries (think Agatha Christie’s Marple) and Downton Abbey sophistication. One of its best assets is a strong male presence. Not many books have a prominent male “voice” and readers are rewarded with a good one. He’s prominently male (readers who long for male to BE a male understand) yet there is a cheeky side to him (he’s still a gentleman and 100% BRITISH!). There is a price to pay for the strong perspective of Drew, which could be the underdeveloped romantics. I don’t find fault with this, and this is for two reasons.


Unlike most series, Drew and Madeline will be primary for all three books. This gives Deering more freedom to keep the romance in play without “showing” too much, too early. What she begins with these two leaves us wanting more, and that is an excellent place to be. I adore these two quintessential love birds together; from his rebuffed marriage proposals to Madeline’s zany sass, there isn’t a better duo. The second reason I’m unaffected by the whirlwind relationship is the era. Everything fits neatly into its genre box, and I say this with only the highest regard. None of the prose seems out of place or awkward leaving a reader nothing if not impressed by the time the final page is turned; and eager to read Death by the Book!

Before wrapping this up, I cannot exclude a mention of the excellent mystery. The surprise isn’t so much who the man behind the mayhem is, as the body count. Great Gatsby! That is something quite unexpected. Fortunately, Julianna does everything for a purpose, making nothing about this book “useless” in any form. And if there is one thing that is a sure thing here, it’s a sparkling good time; like the secondary characters including Nick whom I also love, there’s never tedious moment. Like a fellow reviewer boasts, anyone who enjoys this is going to be beyond eager for more adventures from Drew & Company; if its impending sequel is anything like this novel, count me in!


(This post does contain affiliate links; read the disclosure page for details.)

Author: Julianna Deering
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2013
Shop the Book: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Find the Review Elsewhere:  Amazon | Goodreads | WordPress
Series: A Drew Farthering Mystery – book 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★★

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Ruth A. August 14, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Glad you loved this one too!

    • Rissi August 14, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      Me, too, Ruth! Loved that it was so "different" from usual Christian fiction. :)

  • Jamie Lapeyrolerie August 14, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Great review!!! I'm working on mine, but my thoughts exactly! I can't wait for the next one :)

    • Rissi August 14, 2013 at 5:42 PM

      Neither can I, Jamie! Yippee – now you'll have me on the lookout for your review, girl. Excited. :)

  • Rebeka B. August 14, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    When I saw the cover I was like hmmm, not too interested–but your review combined elements of things I love–the 30s! Agatha Christie! Britain!–so I'm definitely going to give this story a try!

    • Rissi August 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      The cover *is* uniquely odd but I liked it – something quite different from the usual. Glad you think 'Rules' sounds like it may be worth a read, Rebeka. I LOVED it. Plus, oh, my, yes! There are a lot of similarities to Marple and of course, Drew is British. ;-)

      Happy reading!

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com August 14, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Sounds like I better reserve a copy.

    • Rissi August 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Absolutely! It's worth that, Juju. Hope you like the book. :)

  • Rosie Wilson August 14, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Almost half-way through with this one. I love the dialog! Makes me want to rewatch The Great Gatsby with Leo DiCaprio, at least it'll be out soon… lol

    • Rissi August 14, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      Me, too, Rosie – I adore the whip-smart dialogue and the "fun" in every scene. CANNOT wait for your review, girl. :)

      Ooo! Did you like The Great Gatsby? I'll rent it for its pretty costumes and the cast, but that's about all I plan on liking. ;-)

    • Rosie Wilson August 16, 2013 at 12:46 AM

      I just finished it! Ohmyword, yes! If nothing else, the dialog is the best part of the whole book. :)

      I did! They followed the book very well, as I recall. Aside from one scene, I felt the movie was well done and MUCH better than it's predecessors. There's so much more to the movie than the pretty costumes. :p lol I hope you like it!

    • Rissi August 16, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      Yay! Happy you enjoyed it until the end. Bring on book two! Going to be by later to read your review. :)

      Knowing that there is more to 'Gatsby' and that it follows the book is nice to hear. I am such a… hmm… what to call it!? A girl who finds miserable endings distasteful so that is why I am digging my feet in and dreading the movie – well, expect for these costumes. ;) LOL.

      Thanks for sharing – I hope I'll like it, too. :)

  • Hayden August 14, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    I JUST got on blogger to post my review of this book! And you're right- the real surprise was *how many* murders there were! I can't wait for the next books in this series! I quite like the cover, too- it just really showcases the whole feel of the book.

    • Rissi August 15, 2013 at 2:53 AM

      Alright – so cool, Hayden! Because of all those murders, this put me in mind of the ITV series Marple and it was a fun bit of puzzle to unscramble. I was completely won over by Drew and Madeline and for sure, cannot wait for the sequel. Should be a good 'un. :)

      Off to read your review!

  • Kellie August 16, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Yay! I finished my copy yesterday and it's definitely a favorite! I wouldn't have thought Deering could pull it off – I mean, a 1930's British Christian Murder Mystery?? But wow, she really nailed it on all counts. The murder had a few small clichés and the Christian theme was a little abrupt, but other than that, it's a keeper! I'm glad to have read your intro for the next book; hadn't seen that yet!

    • Rissi August 16, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      Hooray! So pleased you enjoyed the book, Kellie. I must admit seeing your status on Goodreads for this one made me curious to know if you were liking the book. Some of the Christianity wasn't fleshed out like it should have been (I agree), however I am hoping that since the three-book series is going to be about Drew and Madeline that Deering will further develop this.

      Doesn't book two sound terrific!? Cannot wait to get my hands on that one – and 'Rules' is certainly going on my "best of" list! :)

      Cannot wait to read your review. :)

  • Bluerose August 16, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    I'm glad you liked this one! I'm so excited about it, I'm thinking about buying it! *gasp* ;)

    • Rissi August 16, 2013 at 6:12 PM

      Thanks, Tammy – this was a charming read! Do you like Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie's Marple? There were reflections of those in this novel and the result was the start of an excellent series! :)

      Hope you enjoy 'Rules'!

      Now that I review so many Christian novels, my buying nowadays is more about YA/secular fiction. It's been fun to discover some new authors. ;-)

  • Kerry August 30, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    {This is my other comment to enter the Blackmoore book giveaway. :)}
    Rules of Murder sounds interesting. Sherlock Holmes was my main book to read during middle and early high school. :) Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey? Sweet! :)

    • Rissi August 31, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      My thoughts exactly, Kerry – when I saw that Agatha Christie, 'Downton' tagline, I *knew* this book would be a keeper. :)

      Hope you enjoy it.


  • […] do I have a good answer for this one. The Drew Farthering Mysteries by Julianna Deering. I dare you not to fall for […]

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