Monday, October 17, 2011

"Murder Most Persuasive"

Tracy Kiely is a self-proclaimed Anglophile (a fact which distresses certain members of her Irish Catholic family). She grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

After spending years of trying to find a proper job that would enable her to use her skills garnered as an English major, she decided to write a book. It would, of course, have to be a mystery; it would have to be funny; and it would have to feature an average person caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Kiely applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Murder Most Persuasive, and reported the following:
From Page 69:
to me and said, “Do you think I should put out cheese and crackers or anything?”

I thought about it. “I don’t think so. A – we want this over as quickly as possible; no need to encourage the police to linger, and B – we don’t want to appear like we’re not taking this seriously.”

“Agreed,” she said. “God, I could use a drink, but I doubt that’s a good idea. I should have my wits about me for this.”

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, giving her arm a friendly squeeze, “Once the police leave, I’ll take you out and buy you all the drinks you want.”

“Deal,” she said with a faint smile.

There was a brief knock on the door before it swung open. It was Reggie. There was nary a hint of distress on her perfectly made-up face. Looking calm and cool, she was wearing the same peach dress I saw her in earlier. The only difference was that she had pulled her hair back into a smooth, tight bun. She even made that look sexy.

After a perfunctory greeting to me and Ann, Reggie said, “So, I take it Bonnie went on her silly spa retreat anyway?”

“Yes,” said Ann, “I drove her to the airport this morning. She…she didn’t seem overly concerned about any of this.”

Reggie scoffed. “She wouldn’t be overly concerned if the house fell down around her, just so long as it didn’t interfere with her five o’clock martini. Is Frances here yet?”
You would think, having heard the old adage, “third time’s the charm,” as much as the next person (which, I believe, is roughly 857,209 times) that it might have made some kind of impact on me.

Think again.

This is the third time that I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to participate in The Page 69 Test. This is also the third time that the page in question isn’t even remotely indicative of my book.

My books are humorous updates of the English cozy, featuring amateur sleuth and Jane Austen aficionado, Elizabeth Parker. For each book, I pay homage to a specific Jane Austen novel. They aren’t retellings of her stories, merely they are meant to be a wink at the reader who loves Austen and happy retreat for lovers of the classic English cozy.

The third book in the series, Murder Most Persuasive, focuses on the themes and personalities found in Persuasion. In Murder Most Persuasive, Elizabeth's great-uncle has just died and the family’s house in the picturesque Maryland town of St. Michaels is sold. When the new owners dig up the pool, they find the body of the man thought to have run off eight years earlier after embezzling over a million dollars from the family business. This grisly discovery not only unearths old questions about what really happened to the stolen money, but it brings Detective Joe Muldoon back into the family’s lives. Eight years earlier, Elizabeth’s cousin Ann reluctantly broke off her relationship with Joe due to family pressure. Ann always regretted that decision and now fears that it is too late for her and Joe–especially after she becomes the main suspect.

As with the previous two books, I eagerly opened this one only to find a page that gave absolutely no indication of any of this. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Page 89? It’s all there! Page 95 – perfection! But page 69 remains bereft of any of it. Personally, I blame this on the “new math” I was forced to learn in school.

However, I have finally learned my lesson. I am just now finishing up the fourth book in the series, and you can be sure that for this book, page 69 is going to be a brilliant example of a humorous Austenesque mystery – even if I have to renumber all the pages to make it happen.
Learn more about the book and author at Tracy Kiely's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at Longbourn.

The Page 69 Test: Murder on the Bride's Side.

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

--Marshal Zeringue