Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Murder at Longbourn"

Tracy Kiely graduated from Trinity College in 1990 with a degree in English.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Murder at Longbourn, her debut novel, and reported the following:
Tom listened calmly to Linnet’s tirade, but remained firm. He probably had had years of dealing with reluctant witnesses. “My name is Tom Cooper,” he said. “I’m a retired police officer. I understand that this is difficult, but trust me, it’s necessary.”

Tom’s reply had no effect on Linnet’s ire. “Well, Mr. Cooper, I know my rights and you simply cannot keep me here against my will!” She marched to her seat where her purse lay. Whipping out her cell phone, she yanked off her clip-on earring, saying, “I’m calling my lawyer. I know my rights. Do you have any idea who I am?”

“All I know is that you’re a potential suspect in a murder case,” Tom replied. Linnet bristled as he continued unfazed. “No one is to leave this room. We must secure the scene and wait for the police.”

Aunt Winnie returned. With a somber glance at Tom, she quietly said, “They’re on their way.”

Randy walked over to Linnet. “I realize that this is a horrible situation, Mrs. Westin,” he said soothingly. “And that what you are being asked to do is quite extraordinary, but I really think we should do as he says. It will most likely make matters easier when the police do arrive. I am sure that your gracious tolerance of the situation will be appropriately acknowledged.”

I wondered exactly how Randy thought the police were going to acknowledge Linnet’s “gracious tolerance of the situation.” I had an inkling that nothing short of a parade would assuage her monstrous ego. Linnet continued to glare at Tom, but Randy’s words seemed to mollify her. She still watched the proceedings with an icy frown, her rigid posture radiating displeasure. However, she did put her cell phone back and replaced her clip-on. Jackie glanced anxiously at her friend, but said nothing.

Aunt Winnie walked over to Lauren, sitting mutely beside Gerald, and gently took her by the shoulders, easing her away from the

My book, Murder at Longbourn, is a humorous cross between the classic Agatha Christie cozy and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I love the twisty, deviously clever plots of Christie and the sublime wit of Austen. I began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What if, after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? Skip ahead several years, and several different plot ideas, and you have Murder At Longbourn.

Except none of it is readily apparent on page 69.

When I was invited to participate on this blog, I eagerly opened my copy to the appointed page only to discover the barest hint of a Christie cozy and absolutely no references to Pride and Prejudice.

So, I’ve got that going for me.

But I promise you it is there. The main character, Elizabeth Parker, having just dumped her two-timing boyfriend, accepts her great Aunt Winnie’s invitation to spend New Year’s at her Cape Cod B&B, The Inn at Longbourn. During the Host-A-Murder dinner party, one of the guests ends up the unscripted victim. When Aunt Winnie becomes the police’s main suspect, Elizabeth must unearth old secrets and new motives to clear her Aunt and stop a killer who keeps killing. Throw in a childhood nemesis, now grown up and as handsome as ever, and you start to get the picture.

Murder at Longbourn isn’t a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. While there are resonances of Austen’s characters in my own (for instance, a spoiled white Persian named Lady Catherine), they are stand alone characters. Murder at Longbourn is meant to be a wink at the reader who loves Austen and happy retreat for lovers of the classic English cozy.

Just don’t judge it from page 69.
Read an excerpt from Murder at Longbourn, and learn more about the book and author at Tracy Kiely's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue