Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering

I have been looking forward to the release of Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering ever since I finished reading Death by the Book.  Ms. Deering has a way with mystery novels that make me feel like I'm listening to a program on old-time radio.  I had some mixed feelings about this third book in the Drew Farthering series.
This book picks up just a few months after the last one left off.  Drew's lady friend, Madeline Parker, decided that she would accept his proposal at the end of Death by the Book, and Murder at the Mikado finds them planning their wedding.  Drew has hired a new man, Brent Landis, to manage his business. Drew is more than a little surprised when he meets his new employee's wife.  Her name is Fleur and she is an old flame of Drew's.  After one very uncomfortable evening, Drew promises Madeline that he will have nothing else to do with Fleur, and will only meet with Landis in private at his club.  That promise is quickly broken when Mrs. Landis comes to visit Drew and informs him she has been accused of murder.  She asks for his help in clearing her name, but he refuses.  However, when Mr. Landis asks for his help, he agrees to look into it.  This immediately begins to cause problems with Madeline.  She is very unhappy that Drew has decided to help his old lover. 
Fleur has been accused of murdering another old lover, Mr. Ravenswood, who was an actor and the owner of a small theater and acting troupe.  When another member of the troupe is murdered, Fleur is arrested.  But another murder, committed while Fleur is in jail, seemingly points to someone else as the guilty party.  Drew and Madeline's relationship will be pushed to it's limits as they try to figure out who is guilty, and just how many people are involved.
The mystery in this story was almost as good as the first.  I truly didn't know who was guilty, and even when Drew figured it out, Ms. Deering kept it concealed until he confronted the murderer.  That aspect of this story was irksome to me.  I wish that the guilty party could have been revealed without all of the back-and-forth of "you did this, and then you did that."  And, as in the Death by the Book, the murderer dies before being able to be punished for their crime.  Really?  But that little quirk didn't ruin this story for me.  I still enjoyed they mystery.
The romance aspect of Murder at the Mikado was quite disappointing.  Madeline doesn't want to rush into marriage with Drew.  Then Madeline loves Drew, and wants to marry him.  Then Madeline is afraid she'll lose Drew, and she doesn't want to marry him, even though she is very much in love.  Then Madeline realizes that she was just jealous of Drew's relationship with Fleur, and was afraid she wouldn't measure up.  Even though the wedding was off, she still wanted to be friends.  And even though she was leaving him, Drew still wanted Madeline's help in his case as a friend.  That's just crazy!  No man is going to take back an engagement ring from the woman he loves, and still be friends with her and let her live in his house!  I found the character's attitudes and actions in the romantic moments to be totally unrealistic and off-putting. 
So, for the bottom line, read Murder at the Mikado for the mystery parts, and skip the love story, such as it is.  Maybe Ms. Deering should stick to murder mysteries only in the future.  I'm hoping that there are more Drew Farthering mysteries to come.   I'll definitely read those!

Happy Reading, (and detecting!)

I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

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