Death At Thorburn Hall, by Julianna Deering
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is a novel that has a lot to do with family, and faith. It was a well-crafted novel, full of genuine mysteries and family secrets, and yet even though the mystery was certainly revealed at the end of the story, it is the sort of novel that sits a bit uneasily with me, because it was about more than just the mystery itself. Having read the first two novels of the series myself , I was familiar with a few of the characters in the novel at least. Yet this novel pushes divine providence to a somewhat uncomfortable level and ends with some loose ends tied up that are a bit too convenient. At any rate, it is well crafted story that ought to satisfy those who are fans of the series so far, and certainly encourage the reader in knowing that there are likely to be a great many mysteries in the future of this series, although they will likely have to travel in the future as well, since there is no doubt that any police constable of any area is likely to see the presence of Drew Farthering is a bad sign, definitely in the bottom ten list of people one would want to see in one’s jurisdiction.
In terms of the story, there is not much that can be done without a spoiler alert, and this is the sort of novel that deserves a fair hearing and not to have all of the mysteries spoiled at the start. Drew and his wife and friends are invited to attend the British Open at the home of one of his relatives, where the master of the house asks him to discreetly investigate the goings on of a friend and business partner whose activities have seemed a bit shady of late. In the midst of that investigation the pater familias winds up dead, and the person brought in as a chief suspect is none other than a sponger and hanger on of another couple present, a man with a mysterious identity that is too preposterous to be believed unless you read it for yourself, although I had an inkling of it about halfway through the novel and still couldn’t believe it when I finally read it. The novel deals with family on multiple levels–the family involved with the series of murders in Scotland, Drew’s own family background, with his mysterious French mother who he has been unable to find out more about, and the marriage plans of Nick and his American beloved Carrie, who does not seem to be the brave sort given the dangers that Drew and Nick are always finding themselves in.
This is a novel that combines a love of mystery with a deep concern for divine providence and questions of forgiveness and redemption. In at least one case, this novel presents a case for redemption that appears, on the face of it, ridiculous and overly convenient, and which will likely require a bit more consistent evidence of improvement in order to believe, although as the character is an entertaining one it is likely that there will be more heard from him in the future. In another case, the author paints a rather chilling picture of entitled youth that feels rather discomfiting, especially given contemporary concerns about the spoiled youth of the current generation. Besides the murder plot in the story, there is considerable concern about the rise of Hitler and the patriotism of Brits, and all of that adds a considerable weight to the novel itself. Even though the novel is set several years before the start of World War II, it is filled with the foreboding of that conflict and unpleasant echoes of World War I. What may have been intended to be a light and pleasant mystery novel from an author of a deep interest in divine providence ends up dwelling uncomfortably close to deep and serious evils of contemporary as well as historical relevance, and that gives this novel a bit of seemingly unintended weight.
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