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Four Stars -- Compelling, Page Turner
With Farlinford Processing and the family's good name safe again following the events in Rules of Murder, Drew Farthering wants nothing more than to end the summer of 1932 with the announcement of his engagement to Madeline Parker. Instead, he finds himself involved in another mysterious case. The family lawyer has been found dead in a Winchester hotel room, skewered through the heart by an antique hat pin with a cryptic message attached: Advice to Jack.
Fans of Agatha Christie need to make room on their bookshelves for the Drew Farthering Mystery series. Even as readers are kept on their toes trying to figure out “whodunit” and may be shocked at who dies next, a message of hope weaves through the story.
Romantic Times, January 2014
“Death By The Book” is a page turner, action, suspense thriller. Drew and his friends lives are in deadly danger as they try to sort out the lies and deceptions and identify the killer before he kills them. Don’t start this book late at night because it will be very difficult to put it down.
Drew examined the body. The victim was a placid-looking middle-aged man, with a sedentary paunch in his jowls and belly. Rather well off, too, if a bit out of touch, judging by his clothing. There were tobacco stains on his fingers and tiny burn holes in his coat.
"No cigarette case," Drew mused.
He 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. It would take someone with 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 had really seen the murder?
Drew looked at the body once more. Like the last time, the pin holding the note was stabbed into the victim's heart. Kentish wisdom would have him paid so. It was the same graceful writing, the same aged parchment as was used on the body in the hotel room, fastened by another antique hatpin. This one was larger than the first, 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, Inspector. Why did you call me into this anyway?”
“I saw your car parked here, and you were involved with the first murder. Your solicitor.”
“I wouldn’t exactly say involved, Inspector. I merely had an appointment with the man. He was dead well before I arrived.”
“Fair enough,” Birdsong allowed. “But you were some little help on that matter at Farthering Place. I thought perhaps you might have some observations on the current cases.”
Drew rather badly concealed a smirk. “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.”
“Look here, 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, young 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. “Both men middle-aged. Both seem to be professional men.”
“You didn’t know the man?”
“No. Should I?”
“It’s your club, isn’t it?”
“Well, yes, of course. But that doesn’t assume intimate acquaintance with each and every accredited member, does it?”
“Suppose not. He was a doctor, I believe. Name of Corneau. Ever hear the name?”
Drew shook his head. “Do you know anything else about him? Where he lived? Where he had his surgery?”
“He lived in Chilcomb and practiced in Winchester.”
“And no one here saw anything.”
“What they saw was Dr. Corneau playing the hole with his caddy. Next thing they knew, Corneau was on the ground and the caddy was running for the clubhouse calling for a doctor. Claimed it was the man’s heart.”
“Have you talked to the caddy?”
“The man’s not to be found. Corneau’s regular boy was called away on some family urgency, and evidently this one took his place. No one at the clubhouse seems to know anything about him, and the manager claims all of his regulars are accounted for. None of them, of course, was out here with the doctor.”
“So this unknown boy comes out to the clubhouse, waits until Corneau needs a caddy, gets himself hired on and, before the doctor can sink his first putt, stabs him through the heart and disappears. Why?” Birdsong shook his head.
“And I suppose no one thought to detain the caddy.” Drew looked up at the clubhouse again, squinting against the afternoon sun. “The sun would have been behind anyone who was looking this way, so they’d have had a clear look. Did you get a description?”
“Not anything specific. Evidently no one really looks at a caddy. Thin, tallish chap is all anyone’s said.”
“They didn’t see him when he came running into the clubhouse?”
“Seems all the attention was on Corneau. This fellow ran in shouting and ran out again. Perfectly natural to think he was going after some help. By the time they all realized the doctor had been stabbed, the caddy was well away.”
“So no one could tell you what he looked like? What he was wearing? What he sounded like?”
“Not really anything helpful. He had a hat on, of course. Dressed like any of the other fellows who caddy here. Seems he had darkish hair, but no one’s overly certain about that. One of the men who saw him leave said he had rather a low voice. Husky, he said it was. As if he’d had a sore throat or congestion.”
“Or didn’t want to be recognized.”
DEATH BY THE BOOK is followed by MURDER AT THE MIKADO, DRESSED FOR DEATH and MURDER ON THE MOOR from Bethany House. Drop me a line to let me know what you think of Drew's adventures. Happy sleuthing!
FOR MORE EXCERPTS:
GO TO BOOK ONE: RULES OF MURDER
GO TO BOOK THREE: MURDER AT THE MIKADO
GO TO BOOK FOUR: DRESSED FOR DEATH
GO TO BOOK FIVE: MURDER ON THE MOOR