Friday, March 14, 2014

Death by the Book

Death by the Book

by Julianna Deering
Christian Mystery

Paperback, 320 pages

March 4th 2014 by Bethany House Publishers

Drew Farthering wanted nothing more than to end the summer of 1932 with the announcement of his engagement. Instead, he finds himself caught up in another mysterious case when the family solicitor is found murdered, an antique hatpin with a cryptic message, Advice to Jack, piercing his chest.

Evidence of secret meetings and a young girl's tearful confession point to the victim's double life, but what does the solicitor's murder have to do with the murder of a physician on the local golf course? Nothing, it would seem--except for another puzzling note, affixed with a similar-looking bloodied hatpin.

Soon the police make an arrest in connection with the murders, but Drew isn't at all certain they have the right suspect in custody. And why does his investigation seem to be drawing him closer and closer to home?

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Several constables were holding back onlookers, and by the time Drew could see the first green, he didn’t need Birdsong to tell him anything. There was a body lying not two feet from the hole.

Drew removed his hat, grieved once again to look upon death.

The chief inspector managed a grim smile. “Ah, Detective Farthering. Good of you to come.”

“Not at all, Inspector. What’s happened?”

“Act Two, it would seem, of our little drama in Winchester last week. I thought perhaps another pair of eyes that saw the aftermath of the Montford murder might help us here.” Birdsong shrugged a little self-consciously. “Saw your car turn into the drive.”

Like the last time, there was a note on the body, secured by a hatpin through the heart. Judging by the amount of blood on the shirtfront, Drew assumed the man had first been stabbed in the same area.

He knelt to get a closer look. The victim was a placid-looking middle-aged man with a sedentary paunch in his jowls and belly. Rather well-off too, judging by his clothing. There were tobacco stains on his fingers and tiny burn holes in his coat.

Drew scanned the neatly clipped grass at his feet. It seemed pristine still. The body must have fallen where it lay. There were no marks that would have indicated it was dragged or even shifted much. It would take nerves of steel to stab a man here on the green at the first hole at three o’clock in the afternoon with dozens of potential witnesses.

Drew looked about again. The trees were a good ten or fifteen yards away. The clubhouse was in plain view. He gave a quick wave to the men sitting up there with their gin and tonic, and they were obliging enough to wave back. He hadn’t a clue who they were, but they could certainly see him.

How was it that no one seemed to have seen the murder?

“Do you have any idea what sort of weapon might have been used?” Drew asked.

“As best I can tell, something sharp and narrow-bladed,” the chief inspector offered. “Most likely the letter opener we found in the victim’s inside coat pocket. Common enough to be untraceable.”

“And the body was lying this way?”

“No. It was facedown, a bit doubled over. Impossible to see the blood or the wounds from any distance.”

Drew considered that and then the note itself.

Kentish wisdom would have him paid so.

It was the same graceful writing, the same aged parchment as was used on Montford in the hotel room, fastened by another antique hatpin. This one was larger than the first and looked to be silver with an amethyst set into it. Drew read the words again. What did the killer mean by Kentish wisdom? And what had that to do with the first murder?

“‘Kentish wisdom would have him paid so,’” Drew murmured. “‘Advice to Jack.’”

What was the connection?

“I don’t know how I can help you, Inspector,” Drew said.

“You were involved with the first murder. Your solicitor.”

“I wouldn’t exactly say ‘involved.’ I merely had an appointment with the man. He was dead well before I arrived.”

“Fair enough,” Birdsong said. “But you were some little help in that matter at Farthering Place. I thought perhaps you might have some observations on these current cases.”

Drew smiled faintly. “I see.”

Birdsong drew himself up with a sniff. “It’s part of my job to make use of any source of information as may become available in an investigation.”

“No need to be defensive, Inspector. If you want my help, all you need do is ask.”

Birdsong scowled. “No, I do not want your help, Detective Farthering. I do not want you mucking about interfering with my official duties. No, nor your friend, Nick Dennison. Nor your young lady. All I want is for you to tell me if you’ve noticed anything besides these blasted bits of writing that would connect the two murders.”

“The hatpins, of course.” Drew dropped to one knee again and peered at the body.

Julianna Derring has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, Summer 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, Spring 2014) and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, Summer 2014).

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ALL readers, who are interested, can receive an autographed bookmark.

You can see a picture of the bookmark here.
Just send a self-address STAMPED (7" long) envelope to:

Julianna Deering
P. O. Box 375
Aubrey, Texas 76227

From the author regarding the fabulous GIVEAWAY:

How could one possibly have a cozy mystery
set in an old manor house in the English countryside near a quaint little village
and not have tea?

Drew doesn't usually take lemon or milk in his. He prefers honey,
especially if it's fresh from the hive.

Mrs. Devon, his housekeeper, spoils him terribly and makes sure he has it.

Print copies of The Rules of Murder and Death by the Book and a Tea Gift Basket (US ONLY)

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  1. Hi, Natalie!

    Thanks for letting me visit your blog!

    Julianna Deering

    1. No problem! Thank you for visiting. I am glad that I have the opportunity to help share about your books.