Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: Julianna Deering's Rules of Murder

With the release of The Great Gatsby movie this year came a new revived interest in the early 1900s. This included a historical fiction release of a book about Zelda Fitzgerald, an updated version of Bonnie and Clyde, and books like this. Some were done well and others not so well. Most books that fall into the genre that Rules of Murder do lack a lot of emotion for me. Rules of Murder lacks the romance and the mystery to be compelling throughout. The author is so focused on getting the era perfectly captured that everyone feels very stifled.

Summary: Drew Farthering arrives at his country estate to find the place a little unwelcoming. His mother is rumored to be having an affair with the man who is currently residing in his room, and his step-father is so focused on denying it that he's letting what appears to be adultery happen right under his eyes. After Drew's arrival, his step-father's niece arrives, Madeline. All the men are taken by her, but she is drawn to Drew. The night of a huge party though a murder happens, and everyone is the suspect.

Characters: The characters have potential, but for some reason they never reach it. I feel that trying to make Drew a non-believe at first, and then a devote Christian at the end was too forced. This is a series, so it could have been a work in progress. Plus, his actions just are very clean and he's not all like someone I imagine who isn't a person who doesn't have to follow a Christian lifestyle. I'm not sure if the drink is supposed to be is fatal flaw or what? Madeline tells Drew at the beginning that she avoids drinking, but seems to have a sip. Overall, her avoidance to not drinking seems to be an indication of her Christian lifestyle. What does this say to Christians like me who do drink alcohol? The mystery also seems really forced. It ping pongs from one character to the next in a forced scenario.

Writing: I'm not saying that Deering is bad at capturing the time, but she may just try too hard to do so. The language is so lavish that it's distracting. You can tell she is an American trying to write in a British tone. There are moments where the dialogue and narrative just seem to be going in a circle. By the end I felt the events of the mystery were very forced. Not that the mystery couldn't have happened, but the fact Drew was the genius that solved it was forced. I don't think anyone who isn't Sherlock would just stumble upon the discoveries they make.

Plot: As said, the plot is very strained. I didn't feel that Drew, Nick, or Madeline were ever intelligent enough individuals to just stumble upon the real facts as they did. Like seriously, they just sort of stumble onto evidence, while the investigator must just be a hoax. He must be really bad at his job, because he solved nothing. Also, it seemed like there were pages and pages whee nothing happened. The author already knows where she wants to go, but she is running the story in circles until she can hit the word limit to get there.

Rules of Murder already has an audience who will enjoy it. It stays clean for the most part, it has characters who learn from their flaws, and leave you at the end wondering how they will progress forward from the tragedies and changes in their lives. Had the author not been trying to force the romance with the mystery I feel the focus would have at least been stronger.

Rating  4 of 10.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.

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