Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Manna from Hades"

Carola Dunn's fifty novels include the long-running Daisy Dalrymple mystery series.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, Manna from Hades, which is the first in a new series, and reported the following:
From page 69:

"...Have the police been pestering you with questions about last night?"

"How do you expect me to answer that when it was your niece who pestered me?"

"I'm sure Megan was polite," said Jocelyn, taking the kettle from Eleanor on her way into the kitchen. "Unlike That Man."

"I haven't yet had the pleasure of That Man's acquaintance," said Nick with a grin, "but you have me shaking in my shoes, Mrs Stearns."

"Then you'd better sit down. I suppose you're posing as a starving artist?"

"Yes, of course. I were brought up proper, I were. I know it's your Christian duty to feed the hungry, so I'm sure it must be my duty to present the opportunity."

Jocelyn gave him a withering look as she turned on the gas under the kettle, but she reached down a cake tin.

Nick remained unwithered. "That looks promising," he said. "Ah, gingerbread. Excellent! I'm glad you didn't waste it on the rude inspector."

"Mr Scumble wasn't really rude," Eleanor protested. "It's his manner that's at fault, rather than his manners. For the most part. Did Megan ask you about what times we did what last night, Nick? I'm afraid I wasn't much help at all."

"Nor was I," he said cheerfully, "but they can easily check our movements. Don't worry about it. When will you be able to reopen the shop? Give me notice, won't you. I want first shot at those detective stories."

"We don't know yet. We were just talking about it." Eleanor frowned. "And I remembered... Nick, you can't imagine Major Cartwright slipping a collection of jewelry in to my car when he loaded the boxes of books, can you? After all, he's a widower. He might think that as his wife can no longer wear them—"

"Eleanor!" Jocelyn snapped, setting the teapot on the table with a bit of a thump. "You really mustn't tell anyone about that."

"Not anyone, dear, just Nick...."

Manna from Hades is my 50th book and the first in my new series of Cornish mysteries.

P69 includes practically all the major characters of Manna from Hades and displays their respective characters. Present are Eleanor Trewynn, kindhearted but occasionally vague, her irreverent neighbour Nick, and Jocelyn, the vicar's wife, efficient but bossy. They're discussing Eleanor's niece, Detective Sergeant Megan Pencarrow, her bad-tempered boss, DI Scumble, and the murder investigation, with its unexpected complication of the discovery of a collection of jewelry.

Tea and gingerbread suggest the English setting (though a Cornish cream tea would have placed it specifically in Cornwall).

Eleanor, a widow, spent her life travelling the world for an international charity. When she retired to Cornwall, she bought a cottage in a fishing village and turned the ground floor into a charity shop. Jocelyn runs the shop, as Eleanor has only to look at the cash register for it to malfunction. She drives about the countryside collecting donations...including the mysterious jewelry which turned up the day before she finds in the shop's stockroom the body of a scruffy, unknown youth, who looks somehow familiar...
Learn more about Manna from Hades at the publisher's website.

Visit Carola Dunn's website and Facebook page, and her group blog, The Lady Killers.

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

--Marshal Zeringue