Book Review: Dressed for Death

6 Jul

This Traditional British Cozy Mystery Gets a Regency Twist

Drew and Madeline Farthering celebrate their six-month anniversary by attending a fancy Regency era costume party. Drew is glad to see Talbot Cummins, an Oxford classmate, and his fiancée, Alice Henley, though many present seem worried about the couple. Everyone’s concerns are realized when, at the concluding grand ball, Alice dies of an overdose of cocaine. Tal refuses to believe she took the stuff intentionally, and Drew is determined to find out if her death was an accident or murder.

Drew is shocked and disillusioned when the police arrest Tal’s father and reveal that the man has been smuggling drugs into the country for the past twenty years. Reeling from the death of his fiancée and the revelation about his father, Tal begs Drew to find out what’s going on. Drew, now questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, does so reluctantly, not ready for the secrets he’s about to uncover — or the danger he’ll bring down on everyone he holds dear.


Julianna Deering (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, 2014). Dressed for Death (Bethany House, 2016), and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (Bethany House, 2017).


My Impressions:

The fourth book in the Drew Farthering Mystery series by Julianna Deering, Dressed for Death, finds Drew and Madeline attending a week-long party at the Cummins family country home. The theme is Regency England, and all the guests are required to dress and act the part. Yachting trips, picnics, and a ball are on the agenda, but so is murder. While the bodies continue to pile up, the crimes hit a little too close to home for Drew. Faced with his own inadequacies, Drew perseveres to find out just whodunit.

Deering’s mystery series takes place in 1930s England, and she does a wonderful job of bringing the era to life. Dressed for Death adds another layer with the Regency party. Both Drew’s time with its cultural references and the Regency era are wonderfully integrated — kudos on the meticulous historical research! Jane Austen fans will love the numerous references to the author’s works. The mystery itself is puzzling up to the end. I had my suspicions, but was surprised as Drew solved the case. Drew is an interesting character. Part of the wealthy class of England, he certainly doesn’t have to work for a living, but his calling as an amateur detective presents challenges. In Dressed for Death, Drew grapples with discouragement and doubt as he examines what it really means to be called by God. The local vicar advises: “Don’t let anyone despise the gifts you’ve been given, and don’t you do so, either. They may not fit anyone else’s idea of a calling, but the world has all sorts of needs, and God has provided for each of them to be filled, if we all do our part. It would be a shame if your part were left undone.” (p. 303) A great message no matter the task God provides.

Dressed for Death comes in the middle of the series, with book 5 now available and book 6 due out in November 2017. It can be read as a standalone, but I think the series is too good to miss any of the fun. If you haven’t read any of the books, start now with Rules of Murder and then progress through the rest. You’ll be all caught up just in time for Drew’s latest adventure!


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: Dressed for Death”

  1. Carrie July 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

    this is one i still need to read from the series – Drew in Regency garb? Swoon. 😉

    • rbclibrary July 7, 2017 at 8:14 pm #

      Oh yeah! Madeline really liked that. I have one more to read before #6 comes out in the fall.

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