Dressed for Death, Book Four of the Drew Farthering Mystery series, Julianna Deering continues to delight us with complex mysteries, multiple murders, romantic threads, and a confrontation with faith, and what may or may not constitute a “calling.”
In this outing, Drew has been married to his wonderful Madeline for about six months. They’ve been invited to a “Regency” party at an old Oxford classmate’s family estate. Drew’s sidekick Nick, has an upward turn of fortune when the American girl he’s falling in love with, returns to England with her younger brother in tow as a chaperone. That romance develops nicely.
For those not up on “Regency” parties, you check your car at the gate and arrive at the manor house in a carriage. You’ve dressed for the occasion by wearing clothes from the Regency period, day and night. The climax is a formal ball held on the last night of the Regency week. Because it’s not just a day, or even a weekend, it’s a full week of living and dressing as they did during England’s Regency period, in the late 1800s.
Talbot “Tal” Cummins is Drew’s classmate from Oxford who is hosting the affair, along with his parents, to celebrate his engagement to the Alice Henley. Tal and Drew are old friends, and their friendship is tested to the limits. Alice has been acting a bit strange. She has something important to tell Tal, but never seems to get the chance to say it, even when they’re alone.
The cast of characters also includes a lecherous French yachtsman who’s an old friend of the Cummins family, his mysterious valet, three local belligerent fishermen, a vicar, and a rotund cook who is quite protective of her pantry.
Poor Alice is the first to die, and a cocaine smuggling operation is revealed. Drew’s world is shaken when those he’s held great respect for turn out to be the culprits.
What I really like about Julianna’s plots are that generally speaking, the least likely suspect, or someone who isn’t a suspect at all, is usually the guilty party behind it all, and it’s true for this story as well.
All in all, a delightful outing. It caused me to re-read my favorite of the series, Death by the Book, plus Murder at the Mikado. I hope that Julianna brings a solution to an unsolved mystery in the third book, that of Marie, the shop girl in a future book.
I received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest book review from the publisher.