"Amateur sleuthing at its finest!"
Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted October 8, 2017
Drew and Madeline Farthering are on holiday visiting Lord
and Lady Rainsby at Thorburn Hall and are excited to be
attending the British Open in Edinburgh. Drew's manager at
Farthering Place and best friend Nick Dennison is with them.
Nick is looking forward to seeing Carrie Holland again.
She's coming from America to spend a few weeks with her
best friend Madeline. Nick and Carrie have had a
long-distance relationship for three years. Will this be the
visit that changes that?
While on a horseback ride before the second day of the Open,
Lord Rainsby falls from his horse and is killed. It appears
this is the result of a broken saddle strap, but when Joan,
the Rainsby's daughter, arrives back at Thorburn Hall, she
is not convinced this isn't murder. Joan asks Drew to look
into it and find the real killer. Being somewhat of an
amateur sleuth, Drew is all too eager to dive in and
investigate. As he begins to ruffle feathers, more bodies
begin to fall. Where will this investigation end?
Travel back to mid-1930s England for another delightful
adventure with Drew and Madeline Farthering. DEATH AT
THORBURN HALL is Julianna Derring's sixth book in her Drew
Fathering Mysteries series. Ms. Derring's characters
are always an eclectic mix with surprises in store for
everyone. Drew, Madeline, and Nick have been at this amateur
sleuthing for some time now and are getting pretty good at
it, much to the dismay of the local authorities. The
storyline is filled with tension and intrigue and takes
several twists and turns on the way to a surprising
conclusion. You'll enjoy the antics and reasoning of these
three sleuths as they search for the real killer. DEATH AT
THORBURN HALL is also filled with inspirational thoughts
that are very encouraging and uplifting. Don't miss any of
this charming series!
Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935
British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing holiday,
he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his
at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be
embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before
can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious
Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues
to dig, he realizes that each might have had a motive to
Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick,
must sort through shady business dealings, international
intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always
seems to be one step ahead.
ExcerptMadeline Farthering gripped her husband’s arm a little
more tightly as they made their way through the mass of
people crowding Waverley Station, certain that if they
were separated in this chaos she’d never be able to find
him again. Drew said something to her, but she could only
shake her head and shrug.
He repeated whatever it was he had said, but the crackling
announcement of a delayed train arrival blaring through
the station made it impossible to make out.
She pressed a little closer to his side. “What did you
By then the announcement had ended, and her shouted
question drew the attention of several passersby. A blush
heated her cheeks.
Drew’s gray eyes were warm and laughing. “Having fun,
She pursed her lips. “Not yet. Is Edinburgh always like
“It’s a fairly busy place most of the time, I expect, but
people come from all over for the tournament.”
She smiled, enjoying his excitement. “I’ve always wanted
to see the British Open.”
“The Open, darling,” he corrected. “Ever and always, the
“Oh, yes, of course.” She managed to keep from rolling her
eyes. “Anyway, I’ve been to our Open, the U. S. Open, and
I’ve been to the PGA. They started a new tournament in
Georgia, too. Last year.”
“Ah, yes, at Augusta. I remember reading about that one.
Well, if they’re still having it in the next year or two,
perhaps we’ll toddle on over to the States and have a
look. How would that be?”
She beamed at him. As much as she loved her husband and
his beautiful country, she sometimes missed the sounds and
sights of her native land. “That would be–”
Madeline blinked, and she and Drew both turned toward the
heavily accented voice.
“Monstrous,” the man repeated, this time on a heavy sigh,
as an elderly porter looked anxiously at him. “And yet, it
must be borne, must it not?”
He was somewhere in his late thirties, tall and slender,
with a pencil-thin moustache and a look of pale tragedy
about him. An actor or artist, Madeline decided. His ivory
silk suit was flawless and quite expensive. He must be
extremely successful. Either that or he had a wealthy
patron. She couldn’t decide exactly what sort of accent he
had. Perhaps Russian.
“Can you believe, madame?” he said, catching her eye. It
was definitely Russian. “I come here to this great country
to escape oppression and corruption, and what do I find?”
Madeline shook her head. “I– I’m sure I don’t know.”
He opened his mouth and then stopped short, a look of pure
delight suddenly on his face. “Ahh, you are American, no?
I am certain such things never happen in your country.” He
swept the stylish hat from his pomaded head and held it
over his heart. “Not to so heavenly a creature as madame.”
There was only the slightest tension in Drew’s smile. “Is
there some way we might be of help?”
“You are too kind, sir, but I fear there is no help to be
had.” Again the foreigner heaved a tragic sigh. “One can
only grieve and carry on.”
“I’m very sorry, sir,” the porter said, a Scottish burr in
his voice and his rheumy eyes anxious. “We have looked
everywhere. Once the train has emptied, we’ll make another
search and send it along to you the minute it’s found.”
The Russian pursed his lips. “And what until then? I
present myself for dinner this evening looking as if I
have just come from the jungle? From being three weeks
lost at sea? It cannot and must not be done.”
“Misha! Misha!” A portly little woman in her mid-fifties
waved from a few feet away and then bustled up to them,
puffing with exertion but still triumphant. “Look what I
have,” she singsonged, and she presented the foreign man
with a small leather toiletry case.
The porter heaved a sigh of relief as the Russian clasped
the case to his breast with one elegant white hand and
used the other to bring the woman’s heavily ringed fingers
to his lips.
“Oh, Madame. Madame, once again you have saved me from
“Will there be anything else, sir?” the porter asked as
the woman stood simpering.
“That will be all, my good man.” The Russian gave him what
could only be described as a regal nod of dismissal, and
then he faltered when the old man stood looking
expectantly at him. “Ah, er . . . ” He patted his breast
pocket and then looked with some distress at the woman. “I
hesitate to trouble you, Madame, but it seems . . . uh . .
She looked at him for a moment, obviously puzzled, and
then realization dawned in her eyes. “Oh. Oh, yes. Yes, of
She popped open her beaded handbag and rummaged through
it, finally coming up with an assortment of small coins
which she pressed into the porter’s gnarled hand. “There
you are. We’re so sorry to have caused you any bother. My
husband had accidentally put it with our things. Such a
silly mistake, isn’t it, though it does look rather like
his. But no harm done in the least. You’ve been a great
The little man touched his fingers to the brim of his blue
cap and then wove his way into the crowd.
Drew gave the woman a polite smile. “If there’s nothing
else . . . ?”
“Oughtn’t you to introduce me to your friends, Misha,” she
said, turning appealingly to the Russian.
“Merely passersby, ma’am,” Drew said with a tip of his
hat. “If you have everything sorted here . . . ”
“Oh, yes. Certainly. It’s too good of you to try to help.
Poor Misha, he can’t be troubled with practical matters,
you know. The brain of the artist is simply too profound
for the trivialities you and I must deal with. I’m sure
The man was standing now with his hand spread across his
shirtfront, his brow furrowed as if his recent near-
tragedy had quite overcome him.
“I’m certain he bears it as bravely as he is able,” Drew
told the woman, somehow managing to look earnestly
“I am never one to complain,” the Russian said dolefully.
“No, of course not,” the woman soothed.
“The past is gone,” he sighed, “and we must carry on.”
“Good man,” Drew said with hearty finality. “Stiff upper
lip and that, eh? Well, I’m afraid we have a car waiting
for us, so we’d best be off. Good luck to you both.”
“Oh, dear,” the woman said, standing tiptoe as she
attempted to see over the crowd. “Where is Alfred now? I
don’t want them waiting dinner for us.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” Madeline hissed, tugging her husband’s
He followed her toward the station exit, looking baffled.
“You were going to go back and help her. Don’t bother
“Nonsense. I was merely trying to see where Nick had got
to.” He lifted his head, looking back toward the train. “I
thought I saw him just over there.”
She pressed her lips together. “And what would he be doing
over there? The way he bolted off the train, you’d have
thought it was on fire.”
It was too loud in the station to hear her husband’s low
laughter, but she could feel the soft rumble of it in his
chest. “He was rather worried about not being on the
platform when Carrie’s train comes in. I don’t think he
much cared for her coming all this way alone, and I can’t
“Judging by the telegram she sent from the dock, she got
along just fine. And she wasn’t exactly alone.”
But she was alone. Carrie Holland had been her best friend
for just ages. Carrie’s father had walked Madeline down
the aisle at her wedding, taking her own late father’s
place in the ceremony in giving her to Drew. She had
teased and scolded Carrie’s little brother as if he were
her own. But now both father and brother were gone. Her
mother had passed on years ago. Carrie had no one left.
Drew squeezed her hand. “I know you’re worried about her,
darling, but I’m hoping this visit is just what she needs
to put things right.”
“I’m hoping it won’t be just a visit.”
He gave her a wink. “That, my love, is where Nick steps
Madeline nodded. Poor Nick. He had fallen hard for Carrie
three years ago, when she and Madeline had come to Drew’s
Hampshire estate, Farthering Place, as part of their
European tour. Madeline had stayed and married Drew, but
Carrie had gone on with her tour and then returned home.
After a year of letters between her and Nick, she had come
back to England to visit. Absence had certainly made their
hearts grow fonder, but then the loss of her brother made
it necessary for her to return home once more to care for
her grieving father. Now there was nothing in America to
hold her, but were letters enough? After two more years
apart, would things be the same between her and Nick?
“He should have asked her to marry him long before now,”
Drew shrugged. “It was a bit awkward when she left the
last time, you know. She had her father to deal with along
with everything else, and he didn’t want to make it any
more difficult for her, trying to keep her in Hampshire
when she needed to see to things at home. And you wouldn’t
want him to pop the question via telegram, would you? That
would be shockingly vulgar.”
She giggled at the look of melodramatic horror on his
face. “I suppose there are more romantic methods.”
“Mine, for example.”
She stopped short, one hand on her hip. “Yours? Your
method was to nearly get yourself killed so I was forced
to stay and keep you out of trouble.”
He looked positively smug. “It worked, didn’t it?”
She lifted one eyebrow and then started them walking once
more. Feeling him laugh again, she prodded him with her
elbow and nodded toward the platform they were
“You’d better go rescue Nick before he topples off.”
Hat in hand and tawny hair ruffled by the wind, Nick was
leaning out over the track, obviously looking for any sign
of the train.
Drew hurried up beside him and pulled him back a little.
“Best look out there, old man. It’d be a bit of a letdown
for your Miss Holland if she finds you under the train
rather than waiting beside it.”
Nick’s smile was more nervous than convincing. “Just
wondering why the deuced thing isn’t here yet. You don’t
think there was a breakdown or anything, do you?”
“Of course not.” Madeline took his arm and gave her
husband a look that discouraged a flippant response. “It’s
not even due yet.”
“Isn’t it?” Nick looked up at the station clock and then
gave Madeline a rather sheepish grin. “I suppose it
isn’t.” Then his expression became urgent. “She is coming,
“You have her telegram, don’t you?” Drew asked.
Nick beamed and patted his breast pocket, eliciting the
crackle of paper. “Shall I quote it for you?”
Drew turned to Madeline, shaking one accusing finger at
her. “I hold you responsible for every bit of this, wife.
Here I thought I had a fine estate manager and stout
fellow for any emergency, and you arrange for him to be
turned into some helpless form of jelly.”
She looked at him with disdain. “Carrie and I came to
Hampshire on vacation. Any jellification on the part of
either of you is entirely your own fault.”
“I see,” Drew said gravely. “When we go home to Hampshire,
I will see that inquiries are made.”
Knowing her reply would never be heard over the sudden
clatter of the approaching train, Madeline merely wrinkled
her nose at him. As soon as the train began to slow, Nick
loped alongside, looking into the first-class compartments
for any sign of a diminutive American girl with a sweet
face and strawberry-blonde curls.
Madeline tugged Drew along behind him, pausing from time
to time to stand tiptoe to peer into the soot-grimed
windows. With a squeal of brakes and a hiss of steam, the
engine came to a stop, and Drew nodded toward the open
door of the compartment they had just passed.
“Carrie!” Madeline slipped her arm out of Drew’s and
hurried over to her friend. “You’re here. You’re really
“I’m so glad to see you.” Carrie hugged Madeline tightly.
“I thought the train would never get in.” Still with one
arm around Madeline, she reached for Drew’s hand. “How are
“Pleased you could join us.” Drew gave her slim hand a
squeeze, his gray eyes holding just a hint of humor as he
glanced toward the front of the train. “Though I daresay
not as pleased as someone I could name.”
Nick was coming back down the platform, his hat wadded in
both hands and an uncertain smile on his pale lips.
A tinge of eager pink came into Carrie’s cheeks. “Hello.”
Hiding a smile, Madeline moved back to her husband’s side,
leaving a clear path between Carrie and Nick.
“Shall I–” Nick cleared his throat. “Shall I see to your
Madeline glared at him. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t just
leave her standing there. Don’t–
An instant later, she knew she needn’t have worried.
With a whisper of her name, Nick took Carrie into his
arms, and she melted against him, twin tears slipping from
under her closed eyelids.
“Come along, darling,” Drew murmured, tucking Madeline’s
arm into his own. “I’m sure they’ll join us in a moment.
Plumfield will see to the bags.”
They walked out into the damp and blustery June afternoon,
leaving the long-parted couple still clasped together,
oblivious to anyone and anything outside their embrace.
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