Monday, April 16, 2018

"A Death of No Importance"

Mariah Fredericks was born and raised in New York City, where she still lives today with her family. She is a graduate of Vassar College with a BA in history. She has written several novels for young adults; her novel Crunch Time was nominated for an Edgar in 2007.

Fredericks applied the Page 69 Test to A Death of No Importance, her first mystery for adults, and reported the following:
“Page 69? That’s kind of random.”

When I first heard of the Page 69 Test, I worried that just picking a page—any page—in the book was going to reveal a stretch where the story has ground to a halt. Characters are wandering around, staring off into space, muttering about the weather. Maybe you can get away with that in other, lesser genres like literary fiction. But not a mystery.

But I steeled myself and opened to page 69 of A Death of No Importance. What I found was an argument between two maids—and a turning point for my narrator.

It is the morning after the murder. The Benchley family has returned from the Newsome Ball shattered because Charlotte Benchley’s fiancĂ© has been found bludgeoned to death. Our narrator, lady’s maid Jane Prescott, is spending a dismal morning caring for distraught Benchleys and she is furious to find that Charlotte’s ball gown is missing. She vents her frustration on a younger maid, only to find that the dress did not come home for a very curious reason. One question leads to the next until Jane realizes that what seemed like negligence on the part of a inexperienced co-worker could be something altogether more sinister.

It’s the first time Jane starts to critically analyze the events of the night of the murder. “If X did Y, that could mean Z is true.” It marks the starting point of her transformation from a servant who performs any task asked of her without complaint to a woman who reserves the right to ask questions and draw conclusions. A woman who feels her analysis and conclusions matter.

In short, she has started to become a detective.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl in the Park.

--Marshal Zeringue