Wednesday, July 30

Murder at the Mikado by Junlianna Deering

Life for a private investigator can be quite demanding, and Drew Farthering is no stranger to stress and business. Finally though, everything seems to be going smoothly. He’s engaged to the woman of his dreams and doesn’t have any cases demanding his attention. He soon finds out a storm is brewing behind the calm after a former girlfriend, Fleur, and her husband come in need of help. Fleur is the primary suspect in the murder of an actor she used to work with at The Mikado.

Despite not wanting to get drawn into Fleur’s life, Drew finds her husband extremely likeable and relents to their plea to help clear Fleur’s name (much to the chagrin of Drew’s fiancĂ©). However, as he begins to investigate it seems that this might be far more complicated than he though. It seems that everyone in the theatre troop had motive and few of them have any sort of alibi. All the while, the wedding draws nearer while the murder case becomes more and more muddled. Will Drew be able to get to the bottom of this case? And what sort of toll will this place on his relationship?

Murder at the Mikado is the third book in Julianna Deering’s The Drew Farthering Mysteries series, which I did not realize when I ordered the book. When I flipped to the first page I braced myself for a lot of confusion. Thankfully, Deering did a fine job in writing a story that was accessible to new readers. Sure, there was character development I had missed, but Drew’s story was actually pretty well filled in. It ended up being his fiancĂ©, Madeline, who I felt I understood the least, though I’m sure at least one of the other novels sets up their relationship much better.

Starting with the cover, and continuing through the rest of the book, there is a noir-ish feeling to the story. It’s not as dark and cynical as some of the most popular noir series, but during many of the scenes I could just imagine rooms with harsh shadows cast by light filtered through cigarette smoke and venetian blinds.

The story moves at a brisk pace and generally reveals enough information to guess at without being too obvious with it. A few parts at the end were a little bit predictable, but the ultimate reveal still had some surprises. Having the story revolve around a theatre definitely made me more interested, as I was involved in community theatre throughout high school and still love seeing live performances.

There were some portions of the book that seemed a little too melodramatic.  I also found Drew to be a bit of a dry character. I thought many of the supporting characters were far more interesting than him. Even the tension between him and Madeline seemed forced. In the end I felt that it was the story that kept me reading until the end and not the characters.  Given that, I don’t feel inclined to pick up other books in this series.

Still, if you’re a fan of the series and the characters, you’ll likely find this book quite enjoyable. In the end I found it to be a pleasant enough read but there wasn’t anything that made me want to stick around for other installments.

3/5 Stars

I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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