Arlen is the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman and the newly released Death Sits Down to Dinner.
She applied the Page 69 Test to Death Sits Down to Dinner and reported the following:
On Page 69 a conversation takes place between our amateur sleuth, Clementine Talbot, Countess of Montfort, and the Scotland Yard detective investigating the murder of a guest at a dinner party at which Winston Churchill, who holds a very senior position in government, was also present. The police investigation is being conducted on a very hush-hush basis.Visit Tessa Arlen's website.
What did Clementine witness about the murder? During the evening one of the gentleman did not leave the dining table to join the ladies upstairs in the salon after port – but remained at the table, head meekly down among the walnut shells littering the cloth with a knife between his ribs. While Clementine works hard to give the Inspector Hillary clear answers to his questions, she is also taking the opportunity to carefully pump him for information for her own use. She is piqued by events, curious as to why this particular man – a very dull individual and the pinnacle of propriety - has been murdered. She is an adept at the art of the innocuously phrased question that hopefully prompts a useful answer, and she is being careful not to alert the inspector in her interest, as she fully intends to conduct her own clandestine investigation into the murder with the help of her redoubtable housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson. There is one moment when her enthusiasm leads her to be a little too outright and she worries that the inspector might guess what she is up to.
This page neatly represents the clearly defined rules in society in 1913. An aristocrat’s wife did not collude with her housekeeper in covert murder inquiries; her friends and family would consider this sort of behavior as certainly “letting down the side.” Clementine and Mrs. Jackson’s inquiries are always conducted with tremendous tact and the most scrupulous discretion: Clementine moves among the close knit circles of high society to find out what is ‘known’ and her housekeeper familiarizes herself with the servants’ hall and all the gossip that is available there.
Coffee with a Canine: Tessa Arlen & Daphne.
The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.
My Book, The Movie: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.