Book Review: Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

Murder on the Moor
by Julianna Deering

Moor – 1. a tract of open, peaty, wasteland, often overgrown with heath, common in high latitudes and altitudes where drainage is poor. 2. mysterious setting which is often the setting for novels about murders and dangerous dogs whose paws are bigger than the average bears; like Bronte novels, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Invisible Man. 3. word in the title of this book which was sent to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

English gentry man, Andrew Farthering and Madeline, his American wife of two years, are visited by an old school chum with an urgent request that they come out to his ancestral home in Yorkshire to solve a murder and find out what is going on behind some odd happenings in the area. Andrew, who goes by Drew, fancies himself to be an amateur sleuth, and he and his wife travel to Bloodworth Park Lodge. The lodge and its grounds abut the moor.

Beaky, so nicknamed for his rather large and noticeable proboscis, Bloodworth is the last of the line in this family. He has married a beautiful girl named Sabrina. Drew is immediately suspicious of her. Why would a beautiful London girl marry a not-so-handsome man and move to the tiny town of Bunting’s Nest on a windy moor? Unless of course, Beaky has money, which he does. Sabrina seems indifferent and even short-tempered with Beaky, making Drew think the woman is on the money trail.

The vicar was murdered before the Fartherings arrive, but shortly thereafter, an old woman, who used to be Sabrina’s nanny, is murdered. The old woman lives on a tiny pittance in a small cottage that belongs to Beaky’s family. Furthermore, huge animal footprints have been found in the condemned wing of the Bloodworth home. This is no ordinary dog. How did it get into the house and where is it living?

Two sheep are found on the moor with their throats apparently torn out. Why and how? Someone has made a little love nest in an old kiln on the moor. Who and why? Is someone following Sabrina as she walks her dog, Raphael, on the moor? Bunting’s Nest is a tiny village and Drew can’t imagine anyone in this village being a suspect in these gruesome events.

Drew and his wife are baffled. There seems to be no solution. Even using a friend as a spy to find things out is not shedding light on the mysterious occurrences. Are the happenings all tied together? Is the mean, law-breaking poacher, Midgely, who lives on the moor the culprit in all of this? It is said he will do anything to earn a crown or two. What sort of beast makes footprints as large as a bear’s? No spoilers from me, mind you. You will just have to read the novel to find out.

I’ll admit that I thought Mr. and Mrs. Farthering were very similar to Dorothy Sayer’s characters, Lord Peter Wimsey and his wife. Both wealthy, both amateur sleuths, both with unusually charming and beautiful wives, etc. Whether this is so or not, I cannot say. What I can say is that I enjoyed this cozy written by an American author and set in England. There were many strands to the plot and it was easy to follow false leads to the erroneous conclusions. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to anyone with an appetite for mysteries, mayhem, and murder…

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