Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Murder with All the Trimmings"

The Anthony and Agatha Award-winning Elaine Viets is the author of the bestselling Dead-End Job series and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series.

She applied the Page 69 Test to the latest novel in the latter series, Murder with All the Trimmings, and reported the following:
The Page 69 test lit up like a Christmas tree for my new mystery, Murder with All the Trimmings. This is the fourth book in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series. Josie feels like Scrooge after slogging through the malls as a professional shopper. But her friend, Alyce, loves the holidays. Here’s how page 69 starts:

Every year, Alyce waited for Christmas with a child’s delight. She decked the halls, the walls, and the lawn. She unpacked her mother’s antique ornaments and brought out her own Christmas china. Mistletoe hung in the doorway. Artfully arranged holly, pinecones, and poinsettias brightened tables. Swags of evergreen draped the chair railings.

Alyce had every kind of ornament – except Doreen’s pornaments.

There really are pornaments – pornographic Christmas ornaments. If I say one is called “snow job,” you’ll get the idea.

Doreen is the former lover of Mike, the man Josie hopes to marry. Mike had his beer goggles on the night he fell into bed with Doreen. Josie has to mystery-shop Doreen’s wretched Christmas store or lose her job.

Worse, Josie’s own ex turns up on her doorstep. Josie thought Nate was safely stashed in a foreign prison. But here he is – drunk and bringing gifts of drug money for his darling daughter, Amelia.

Josie wanted to tell Amelia that she never married her child’s father, but she never found the right time in nine years. Now Daddy is literally on the doorstep. Josie fears Nate will grab their child and disappear into Canada. He’s no respecter of the law, and Amelia loves her rich, generous Daddy. He never makes her clean up her room.

Instead of shopping, Alyce uses her homemaking skills to celebrate the season on page 69:

Alyce’s house smelled like cinnamon for the entire month of December. She made cookies, fruitcakes, and pomander balls out of cloves, oranges, and green velvet ribbons. Christmas morning was a feast, with cranberry bread, spicy gingerbread logs, fruit stollen, shirred eggs with red and green peppers, and a spiral-sliced ham. Dinner included a crown roast and a flaming plum pudding. Just hearing about Alyce’s holiday plans made Josie feel like she’d walked into a Gourmet magazine spread.

Josie isn’t in a holiday mood: she’s short on cash and tangled in three murders. Why should she have it any easier than the rest of us? Thanks to fiction, I can give her story a (mostly) happy ending.
Read an excerpt from Murder with All the Trimmings, and learn more about the book and author at Elaine Viets' website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue